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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Far less polite is former GOP congressional staffer Michael S. Lofgren, who delivers himself of a veritable jeremiad in the Huffington Post. “As with many religions,” Lofgren writes, “political parties have a tendency to start as a movement, transform into a business, and finally degenerate into a racket designed to fleece the yokels. One organization which has gone out of its way to illustrate this evolution is the Republican Party.”

If that doesn’t clear your sinuses, Lofgren’s title might do it: “Scientology for Rednecks: What the GOP Has Become.” Now, as a matter of principle, I dislike the term “redneck,” an offensive ethnic insult like any other. A writer is on shaky ground objecting to racially coded attacks upon President Obama while using a term like it to characterize Republican voters.

Lofgren’s larger point, however, is well-taken. “Compared to the current crop of congressional GOP freshmen and sophomores, even George W. Bush looks like Henry Cabot Lodge.” Republicans have allowed themselves to become the anti-science party, indebted to tycoon-funded “think tanks” and in thrall to paranoid talk-radio ravers who encourage its dwindling voter base to see themselves as a “martyr-like… persecuted remnant of Real Americans.”

In consequence, GOP True Believers have rendered themselves incapable of noticing “the complete failure during the last 30 years of tax cuts for the wealthy to increase revenue, kick-start economic growth, or help the middle class.” They’re getting screwed, and blaming the wrong people.

Writing in The New Republic, Sam Tanenhaus launches an even more fundamental critique. “Conservatism Is Dead,” he writes, replaced by “inverse Marxists” preaching backward-looking utopianism that promises a return to an America that never existed.

In a companion piece entitled “Original Sin,” he laments that “the party of Lincoln—of the Gettysburg Address, with its reiteration of the Declaration’s assertion of equality and its vision of a ‘new birth of freedom’—has found sustenance in Lincoln’s principal intellectual and moral antagonist. It has become the party of [John C.]Calhoun.”

That is to say, of “nullification” and the Confederate States of America.

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