Sunday, May 26, 2013

Republicans Flee the Center

Something quite strange has happened lately in American politics. Ezra Klein:
Over the last few years, the Republican Party has been retreating from policy ground they once held and salting the earth after them. This has coincided with, and perhaps even been driven by, the Democratic Party pushing into policy positions they once rejected as overly conservative. The result is that the range of policies you can hold and still be a Republican is much narrower than it was in, say, 2005. That’s left a lot of once-Republican wonks without an obvious political home.

Health care is the most obvious example. The basic architecture of the Affordable Care Act is, as has been pointed out ad nauseum, a Republican idea. It was first proposed in a 1993 plan that had 20 Senate Republicans as co-sponsors. It was passed and implemented by Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. It was supported by Newt Gingrich. . . .

There was a time when Republicans were leading the way on ideas to fight climate change. The first cap-and-trade bill to reduce carbon emissions was introduced into the Senate by Sen. John McCain. . . .

Back in 2008, President George W. Bush pushed for and signed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. In 2009, there were a variety of Republican stimulus plans. Back then, Republicans could believe in deficit-financed stimulus during an economic downturn. Today, that would get you driven out of the party as a Keynesian spy.
The result of this has been that former Republican writers and policy wonks have been driven to the edge of the party, or right out of it: Andrew Sullivan, David Frum, Josh Barro, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, Ramesh Ponnuru, and so on. I have to think that eventually voters will wise up and force Republicans away from their extremism, but there is not sign that this is happening yet.

No comments: