Thursday, October 27, 2005

Courageous statement from Danforth

John Danforth, a conservative stalwart with impeccable credentials (Senator, Ambassador, minister...) has stated the obvious: the hold of the religious right on the Republican party is a bad thing, for the country, for the party, for all of us.

The Republicans, who once stood for fiscal discipline, a cosmopolitan world view, global engagement, and progress, have mutated into something ugly and unrecognizable. If there are any left of the old school, it is past time for them to redeem themselves. The party may suffer in the short term if losing the votes of some religious fanatics costs it a few elections; but in the long run the party and the country would be far better off.

The truth is that the cultural conservatism of the "base" is deeply at odds with the principles of free trade, free enterprise and individual responsibility that were once the mantra of the GOP. It once appeared that the challenge to the Republican leadership would be keeping the religious right in line while pursuing a traditionally pro-growth strategy. After all, no one is more at risk, from globalism and technological progress, than people who reject the modern world. Unfortunately, the religious right has become the tail that wags the GOP.

Though it was certainly not intended thus, Danforth's courageous honesty calls into question the entire rubric of the current two-party axis. If the Republican party has been so thoroughly infiltrated by the cancer of fundamentalism, that it cannot recognize itself, then the remaining secular moderates would do well to make common cause with the moderates of the Democratic party. In the ideal world, the wackos on both sides of the political spectrum would be left where they belong: outside the tent. Well, at least we can dream...

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