Letter from a (former) Republican

August 27, 2004

In a linking mood today.

From this morning's Inkwire we have an op-ed from Steven Poppell, a lifelong Republican, explaining that the party of 2004 is no longer the party of 1960 and suggesting that the best defenders of conservative values - fiscal prudence, state sovereignty, individual rights - are now in the Democratic party.

He argues that neoconservatives have remade the party into a travesty of its former self. I would blame the Texas Republican Party. In any case, this reminds me of some earlier discussions about political realignment.

Some political scientists break the past down into periods of "party systems" - relatively stable eras in which coherent groups opposed one another over linked sets of issues - and then focus their studies on the changes between party systems, such as the collapse of the Whig party and the birth of the Republican party in the 1850s.

I have seen some suggestions that we are in the middle of a change in the party structure, but most of those suggestions have seemed very presentist - if Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan, and Dubya all engaged in the same sudden change, then how sudden was it?

Still, it is worth noting that there is some ideological consistency between Goldwater, and Reagan. (Nixon is best thought of as a Cold War Liberal, closer to Truman than to Reagan, despite his campaigning techniques) And, I agree with Poppell's point that Dubya's Republican party is radical with reactionary tendencies, not conservative.

Is this a transformation or an evolution? I suspect it comes down to an argument about semantics and definitions. It does appear to be a change (but remember that Reagan both praised budget discipline and ran budget deficits.)

That was a remarkably unfocused and unfinished thought. But it was a good solid Op-Ed.

Posted by Red Ted at August 27, 2004 11:49 AM | TrackBack

Republicans have not been pro-abortion or pro-right-to-die in my lifetime, so, uhm, what is he surprised about?

And no one in the government is fiscally conservative.

Posted by: DFH at August 27, 2004 01:25 PM
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