Thursday, October 15, 2015

Quotes of the day: An indictment of the "jaw-dropping incompetence" of Republican politicians - by David Brooks!

Here's the first one on the modern Republican party - the one that is not the party of your (OK, my) parents. The one that is not the party of Eisenhower. The one composed of slobbering, teeth-gnashing GOPlins eating each other in a race to the bottom.

"This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence. Running a government is a craft, like carpentry. But the new Republican officials did not believe in government and so did not respect its traditions, its disciplines and its craftsmanship. They do not accept the hierarchical structures of authority inherent in political activity." - David Brooks writing in the NY Times.

By traditional definitions, conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible. Conservatives of this disposition can be dull, but they know how to nurture and run institutions. They also see the nation as one organic whole. Citizens may fall into different classes and political factions, but they are still joined by chains of affection that command ultimate loyalty and love.

All of this has been overturned in dangerous parts of the Republican Party. Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple.

"People who don’t accept democracy will be bad at conversation. They won’t respect tradition, institutions or precedent. These figures are masters at destruction but incompetent at construction."

"These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around."

Back in the years of the Dubya administration, I was party to a political discussion over dinner - a friendly conversation among academics all of a common, Democratic persuasion. One of my colleagues opined on how the administration was so conservative. My response was that conservatism was a legitimate political philosophy (albeit one I disagreed with) - and the Bush gang was not truly "conservative." Since then, the Republicans have become even worse. Here David Brooks has supported my case.

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