Why We're Ungovernable, Part 10: The Republicans' Civil War
Back when the republican party was actually the party of small government it was possible for country club moderates (white guys and their trophy wives who love the status quo and want to preserve the tax breaks that make it possible), Christian conservatives (who want the bible to be the template for the US legal system) and libertarians (who want a limited government that exists almost solely to protect property rights and individual freedoms) to coexist. While disagreeing on some major issues like abortion and foreign affairs, they could unite on taxes, regulation, school choice and enough else to hold the party together.
But gradually, the easy money flowing from the fiat currency/money center bank nexus has corrupted the country club republicans by coaxing them into a "governing coalition" with moderate democrats. This "political class" is all about perpetuating its own power, and the meaningless elections it oversees are just about the opposite of what Ronald Reagan (the last national leader to unite the party's three main branches) had in mind when he promised to "never speak ill of another republican."
Now the GOP is splintering, as libertarians and some fundamentalists give up on working within the current structure -- and as a result stop self-censoring in the interest of party unity. Michigan libertarian congressman Justin Amash is a case in point. After being targeted by country club republicans in the party's recent primary -- and after winning easily -- he was anything but magnanimous.
This alone -- a politician honestly expressing his feelings for his opponents -- is interesting enough. But what's really fascinating is the reaction from the various parts of the political spectrum. The Washington Post, for instance, seems bemused:
Politicians who win campaigns, no matter how dirty, will almost always kiss and make up with their political opponents in their election-night speeches.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), of course, is not your average politician.
After defeating a Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate in his primary by 14 percentage points on Tuesday, the Ron Paul ally set about settling a few scores.
Former congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who backed challenger Brian Ellis? "You are a disgrace. And I'm glad we could hand you one more loss before you fade into total obscurity and irrelevance." (Hoekstra lost the state's 2012 Senate race -- and in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.)
Ellis? "You owe my family and this community an apology for your disgusting, despicable smear campaign. You had the audacity to try and call me today after running a campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. I ran for office to stop people like you."
Ellis in one ad referred to a quote from Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who labeled Amash "Al Qaeda's best friend in Congress."
In a later TV interview, Amash said: "I'm an Arab-American, and he has the audacity to say I'm al-Qaeda's best friend in Congress? That's pretty disgusting."
Here's the video of Amash's speech, courtesy of WXMI-TV. The operative part starts about halfway in.
Lightweight left-wing website Salon, meanwhile, posted pretty much the same neutral article but with a very different headline:
At the other end of the spectrum, the libertarian news organization Liberty Crier's headline had an "it's about time" call for more such honesty:
What to make of all this?
The republican party as it existed in Reagan's day is over. Libertarians like Amash can't abide "RINO" (republican in name only) leadership any longer and have decided to go their own way in terms of both policy and rhetoric. So they're finally calling the hacks and careerists by name. For libertarians and their fans this will be, well, liberating.
But the near-term beneficiaries are obviously the democrats, who don't have the same internal divisions: Pretty much all democrats are in favor of social freedom and government control of the economy, so it's easy for them to unite behind flawed-but-generally-liberal candidates. They will as a result win a lot of national elections, and when republicans do win it will be because democrats in power have screwed up in some obvious and unforgivable way.
In those relatively rare shots at national power, the republicans will have to form European-style coalition governments including the same three groups that used to comprise the party. Because each faction will be able to demand tangible policy concessions as the price of joining, they might feel better respected than they do now.
This, however, is not a fix. Only when the fiat currency stops flowing will the political class lose its current power to buy elections. But at least the discourse from here on out will be a lot more fun.