By David Beilstein
STEVE MCCANN at American Thinker asked an interesting question in a recent column – can the Republican Party remain relevant if it does not replace House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)?
I don’t think the Republican Party, with some individual exceptions, is relevant, now. We can throw around protests day and night, but Tuesday, Nov. 6, proved otherwise. If GOP party leadership chooses to remove John Boehner – as it should – it will only assume proper behavioural norms reminiscent of a man who pays his car payment on time.
Isn’t that somewhat expected?
This reminded me, I had the opportunity to listen to Rush Limbaugh yesterday around noontime. A replay of an early broadcast. Since film school started, I have not been able to listen to Limbaugh all that much. Limbaugh said a couple things I have to disagree with. One, he made the case that the Republican Party isn’t being “Republican” – that conservatism is not losing, but Limbaugh seemed to intimate there used to a GOP which in monolithic style, expressed classical liberalism stridently.
But history indicates this is not true. I can go along with a ‘true conservatism is not losing’ because the GOP never tries it nationally, but what I cannot go along with is the notion the Republican Party has been a monolithic party standing for classical liberal principals.
In the early 20th century, the Republican Party became a progressive force nationwide all across the country. Republicans were moralistic jerks ushering in a number of progressive and anti-liberty legislation. The temperance movement, the Mann act – America as a collective, not diverse individualities, etc.
It’s one reason why many Americans who wanted to conserve the localism of Jeffersonian principals and conserve and animate a government respecting Madisonian “factions”, desirous of strong mediating associations – attached to community, voted against the Republican Party for generations.
This only stopped when the Democratic Party through Woodrow Wilson and FDR helped usher in a DNC of equal and more populist progressivism than Republicans, much of this stemming from Republicans running out of issues with emancipation in the late 19th century. It seems, historically, Republican progressivism did not have the racism that Democratic Party progressivism had. Still, I have an issue trying to make the case the Republican Party has consistently stood for limited government and classical liberal principals.
The GOP, then, has stood for different things during its history. As Hillsdale College visiting professor Dr D.G. Hart lamented, the GOP has too often usurped localism and state’s rights for cultural uniformity on numerous issues the U.S. Constitution is indifferent to.
Sure, Boehner has to go. Quickly. But he probably won’t. The long and the short of it, then, is that the current GOP answer to President Obama is within its historical genetic code. The GOP is classically liberal when it’s leadership is robustly classical liberal – or, at the very least has nationally recognised strident voices in its midst (Goldwater comes to mind in the 1960s, Reagan 1960s-1980s). But the Republican House and Senate is not brimming with classical liberals. It is filled with authoritarian moralists, ala Rick Santorum, or moderate Republicans who have no real angst at an increasing, growing, micturating Federal Beast, so long as Republicans hold its leadership positions.
So, Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s inability to oppose President Obama’s statist progressivism on classically liberal ideological grounds, cannot be said, historically, as being non-Republican. It may go against Coolidge, Goldwater, Reagan, and various other “classical liberal interpretations of Republicanism”, but it is not opposed to large political winds throughout the GOP history, especially its progressive tilt in the early 20th century.
It all depends what generation we look at.
Obviously, the inability for the Republican Party to offer a stiff rebuke to Obama’s statist creep is unserious, revealing large sympathies with the president’s agenda. Boehner and company desire increasing Federal Power. Their sadness, the look on their faces as if they had accidents in their drawers, is because they are not a party in power, but in decline. But that decline is systematic of their bloodless non-ideological approach. It is non-ideological, because these folks do not have a classical liberal ideology to begin with.
But Republican aims should be about dismantling an increasing post-Constitutional, statist, government. No way does Boehner and company offer the limited government propositions such proponents desire in approaching political winds.
It’s really, truly, just that simple.