Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ghost of Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan
The Republican Party hasn't had a new idea in 30 years and the last one, Reaganomics, was spectacularly wrong-headed. What we have seen from Republicans for the last three decades are calls for ever more extreme and raw application of trickle-down economics. When it inevitably fails conservatives simply say we need to double-down (Bush II), then double-down yet again (current candidates for the Republican nomination) on their aberrant economic theory. History has proven supply-side economics, with its twin requirements for cutting taxes on the rich and dangerously irresponsible deregulation, is an unmitigated disaster, but it's the only story Republicans have and they're sticking with it.

This leaves Republicans in a quandary over an acceptable presidential nominee, because the price of admission is checking history, facts, logic, and reason at the door. Panderbear wonders what's left to campaign on when not even the slightest deviation from received doctrine is permitted and every candidate is a zombie clone of an idealized cartoon of Saint Reagan? The GOP is not going to find a conservative savior by requiring ever more strict adherence to, or at least pandering to, a radical ideology divorced from reason and best science.

Mitt Romney has a reputation as a pandering flip-flopper. His problem is, every once in a while he gets off-script and says something, well, sensible. Then he has to walk it back when the inevitable tsunami of right-wing extremist criticism rolls in. Rick Santorum plays all the correct right-wing political notes, but appears to be running afoul of separation of church and state, which even many of the devout consider sacrosanct, not to mention his 17th century social mores. Ron Paul is a fuzzy-logic wielding anarchist in Libertarian garb. Newt Gingrich would be perfect, but for his record of marital and ethical malfeasance, stormy and intransigent tenure as Speaker of the House, and narcissistic personality.

The sad truth for Republicans is that they have a breathtakingly dreadful field of candidates. No wonder they can't settle on any one of them. The worst part is, ultimate culpability for this impossible situation lies not with the fatally flawed candidates themselves, but with an entire political party whose dogma has succumbed to ideological rigor mortis, increasingly rigid adherence to radical political and social dogma, and refusal to discard a discredited economic theory that has led to a $15 trillion national debt, Gilded Age income divergence, a permanent aristocracy of the wealthy, a diminished middle class, and the death of the American Dream.

The GOP is haunted by the ghost of President Ronald Reagan. They don't just need better candidates; they need an exorcism.

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