Tags: Barone | Slen | Republican | Democrat

Journalist Barone on What Happened to the GOP

By    |   Monday, 29 Sep 2014 07:51 AM

Veteran political scholar Michael Barone, co-author of the legendary Almanac of American Politics, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal recently to discuss his recent column as senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner titled "How the GOP Got This Way."

He was interviewed by host Peter Slen, who got right to the point by daring to ask, "What does the Republican Party stand for today?"

Barone responded that the Republicans stand more for markets than for big government, compared with Democrats, and the Republicans stand for "traditional values." He explained the ambiguity of the stances of both parties as a result of their need, unlike parties in parliamentary democracies, which is to get 50 percent of the votes, and he called this task "harder than it looks" in view of the "cultural diversity" that he finds has been a feature of American society for a long time, not just recently.

He analogized the chore to Sisyphus rolling the stone up the mountain, with the stone destined to roll back down again. (This writer sees the mountain as steeper and more treacherous for Republicans than for Democrats, who can mobilize federal infrastructure programs to grade and pave the mountain.)

Slen recalled that President Reagan used to refer to the Republicans as a "big tent," and Slen asked whether this is still the case today for the parties. (This writer imagines an encampment where some of the campers are trying to kick over the poles of other tents or set those tents on fire.)

Barone explained he has identified a phenomenon in both parties that he calls "the wingers' second-term revolt," which he sees as the source of angry rebellions against the Leadership, as is now occurring in the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party.

For Barone this is reminiscent of the peace movement within the Democratic Party 40 years ago. Just as the Democrats were discontented with the policies of LBJ, Barone listed the Medicare prescription drug program and "No Child Left Behind" as grievances of Tea Party Republicans with George W. Bush's presidency. At the same time, Barone credited the Tea Party with helping the GOP win House majorities. He sees similar discontent among Democrats with President Obama's foreign policy and his failure to provide amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Slen posted a quote from Barone's article that the advent of the Tea Party had brought hundreds of thousands of new people into politics, some of whom are "wackos, weirdos and witches," while others turned out to be "serious citizens with exceptional political skills."

Barone responded that the press made similar judgments about the peace movement 40 years ago. Both movements addressed serious issues of war and peace and the size and scope of government. He asserted that the Republican establishment has internalized many of the views of the Tea Party, and he credited both movements with reshaping their respective parties.

This writer anticipates battles within both parties by progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans over who will bear their respective standards, and that dissident Republicans in particular are likely to withhold their support from the party's nominee.

Asked by a viewer why the dissidents in both parties get so much attention, Barone cited the Vietnam War and the 2008 financial crisis as instances where the views of the center could benefit from correction by the critics.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Veteran political scholar Michael Barone, co-author of the legendary Almanac of American Politics, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal recently to discuss his recent column as senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner titled "How the GOP Got This Way."
Barone, Slen, Republican, Democrat
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2014-51-29
Monday, 29 Sep 2014 07:51 AM
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