The Republican Race for Non-Compassionate Conservatism

Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

Will the Republican Party’s 2012 national rout have an impact? Will it become more a moderate (excuse the “dirty” word) conservative party that tries to inch back to George W. Bush’s stated goal of a more “compassionate conservatism” that would appeal to growing, Democratic-inclined demographics? As Tony Soprano said: “Fuhgeddaboudit!”

Amid signs of looming Republican political civil war between purity-demanding conservative activists and a political establishment that seeks to enlarge the party’s current perceived “MEMBERS ONLY” tent, there seems to be a race among Republicans to prove who has the least empathy and who will be tougher, no matter what the consequences (to groups that don’t vote overwhelming Republican).

Ronald Reagan’s smiling “Shining City On the Hill” has been replaced by a scowling “You Give Us What We Want or We’ll Level that Hill.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham blasts President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as an “in your face nomination,” but the reality is this: to millions of Americans, today’s Republican Party has become the 24/7 “in-your-face” political party.

Many American independents, centrists, moderates and 20th century style conservatives are now in a state of near political grief. They sadly watch as a party that offered substantive alternatives to govern is morphing into a political party seemingly in a state of perpetual filibuster, seeking ways to provoke political brinksmanship, looking for ways to confront — while appearing to kowtow to its most ideologically intolerant rightward faction and polarizing conservative talk show hosts.

A government shutdown? Give us what we want, or it’s about time we had another one (forget abut the chaos it’d mean to not just the government but government services, funding and to millions of Americans). Default on the debt limit? Slash spending the way we want or those bills won’t be paid — and it won’t be as bad as you “libruls” think and might event help the country (forget about the wide variety of experts, including conservative economists, who predict it’d be catastrophic to the American and world economies).

The problem for the GOP is that its courage-challenged politicians won’t stand up to the Tea Party, so the soggy tea bag is waving the elephant. According to Rasmussen, only 8 percent of voters now say they are members of the Tea Party, down from a high of 24 percent in April 2010. The Tea Party now has a limp 30 percent favorable rating and an unhealthy 45 percent unfavorable rating.

Some traditional conservatives are increasingly alarmed by the nihilistic tone of their party and they’re speaking out. For instance, conservative blogger Doug Mataconis writes that his party now offers two choices: “Either the nation moves in the direction that those who advocate it want it to, or it burns. There’s no room for compromise, no room for debate other than on the terms already set. This is not the philosophy of a party that wants to govern, and it’s not the philosophy of a party that is going to last for an extended period of time in its present form. It is, in the end, a philosophy of anarchism in which one really doesn’t care what happens.”

Hint to the GOP: If politics ain’t bean ball, the debt ceiling ain’t the fiscal cliff. It’s the fiscal Grand Canyon. The debt ceiling is where craven political gamesmanship and blatant partisan power-plays can shove the United States and the world into a major financial setback.

If that happens, then in future national elections all of Rush Limbaugh’s listeners and all of the Tea Party’s activists won’t be able put the tea-guzzling Elephant Dumpty back together again.

Copyright 2013 Joe Gandelman. This weekly syndicated column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate

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4 Comments

  1. Well of course the president will not allow the country to falter. Too many things at stake, so the libertarians ( I stopped thinking of them as Tea Party since the name they picked for themselves has NOTHING to do with what the true Tea Party stood for) will probably score some major victories.
    They are done “compromising”…they already did that once and that’s all we get. Now it’s business (blackmail) as usual.

  2. This Ezra Klein column explains what happens if the debt ceiling is not raised by Feb 15.

    Imagine we hit the debt ceiling Feb. 15. The BPC’s analysis suggests that federal spending over the next month will be about $450 billion. Federal revenues will be nearer to $277 billion. That means that the government will have to default on about 40 percent of its obligations.

    The choices it will face quickly become stark. It can cover interest on the debt, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, defense spending, education, food stamps and other low-income transfers, and a handful of other programs, but doing all that will mean defaulting on everything — really, everything — else. The FBI will shut down. The people responsible for tracking down loose nukes will lose their jobs. The prisons won’t operate. The biomedical researchers won’t be funded. The court system will close its doors. The tax refunds won’t go out. The Federal Aviation Administration will go offline. The parks will close. Food safety inspections will cease.

    All of this, amazingly, is something of a best-case scenario. It’s what happens if we breach the debt ceiling in an orderly way. But the federal government needs to make more than 100 million individual payments between Feb. 15 and March 15. Those payments are all computerized and those computer systems aren’t build to stop making half of them, or to prioritize some above others. There’s a real question as to whether the federal government could reprogram its software to seamlessly begin picking and choosing which bills to pay and which to ignore. If there’s a glitch, then it’s possible that after assuring bondholders that they’ll never miss a payment, the government will accidentally fail to pay them, causing widespread confusion about whether the guarantee remains valid, and throwing financial markets into a panic.

    The consequences, meanwhile, will be lasting. We will have done something we told the markets we would never, ever do. The United States will have proven itself a riskier borrower with a more broken political system than anybody thought. The BPC estimates that the last debt-ceiling fight cost us $19 billion in higher borrowing costs over the next decade, and in that case, we didn’t even breach the debt ceiling. If we go further this time, the costs will be much higher, and much longer lasting.

    Ironically for those who want to use the debt ceiling as leverage to reduce the deficit, busting through the debt ceiling would make our future deficits far worse. The damage to the economy now would increase the deficit, as spending goes up and tax revenues go down when the economy flags, and the higher borrowing costs later would increase the deficit, as we’d be paying more to service our debt than the Congressional Budget Office expects.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....t-ceiling/

  3. As I have been saying for a while…

    We are dealing with people that want a conservative America…or NO America. The Republican party needed these folks for votes and now they are taking over the asylum.

  4. Personally I think a majority of the Tea Party people simply do not understand what they are doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they think the debt ceiling is actually about controlling deficit spending. We are talking about a group of people so deeply embedded in their own echo chamber they want to launch investigations into Congress looking for Communists and Muslim fundies trying to get us. That still think when Obama said “You didn’t build that” he was talking about the businesses the owners built and not the infrastructure that supports it. Who take any data that conflicts with their opinions and labels it “Liberal” and therefore not valid. Add to that their basic political cravenness and you have a potent cocktail for terrible governance.

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