Guest Columnist Ray Mosby 10-13-2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 13, 2015

(Ray Mosby is publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.)

Mosby: Republicans having trouble in paradise

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”—Abraham Lincoln

ROLLING FORK—Then fledgling Republican Party candidate Abraham Lincoln said that now famous line in a speech two years before the outbreak of the American Civil War, but is equally applicable today to the little less than internecine one taking place within the party he largely forged.

Last week’s throw-up-of-hands resignation of House Speaker John Boehner not only from his post, but from Congress, itself at the end of the month, is but the latest indication that the (call them what you will) ultra right wing, Tea Party, “crazies,” or “kooks” are gaining ground in the battle for the soul of a major American political party.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

To paraphrase former GOP Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Boehner, who had effectively lost control of his House caucus sometime back and had come to signify what the wild bunch viewed as the futility of the party establishment, finally grew tired to trying to herd feral cats and walked away while  he could still do so on his terms.

The fact that Boehner’s announcement drew cheers and scornfully snide comments at a GOP “values conference” hosted by the American Family Association speaks volumes. This was, after all, the highest elected Republican in the country, second in line for ascension to the presidency.

It is no coincidence that the three Republican candidates most consistently atop the polls for its presidential nomination are all “outsiders,” railing against the machine—Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, none of whom has ever held the first political office.

That could certainly change, of course, more than a year out from an election, but to this point there has been no anticipated emergence and embrace of rationality within a party in which all of the energy—fueled by anger and frustration—lies with its rebels.

And this is a group that wants to cede not the first inch nor take the first prisoner in what is beginning to look more and more like their domestic crusade.

What it comes to the hot button issues, immigration, abortion, anything and everything Muslim, gun laws, gay marriage, their perceived “war on Christianity,” there can be no compromise.
More than just weakness, compromise is seen as little less than treason. At least for the last half-century or so, Republicans have been viewed as the party of conservatism in America. But this is not the conservatism so eloquently advanced by the likes of William F. Buckley and other thinkers.

This is so far removed as to have made the word “conservative,” lose its traditional meaning, devolving it instead into a bevy of less noble and far more politically dangerous words beginning with the letter “r”—words like reactionary and revolt and revolution.

In 2015 America, the calling of one “liberal” is virtually the equivalent of the calling of one “communist” in 1955 America. Ted Cruz, meet Joseph McCarthy.

What we are witnessing is literally the progressive rise of a very ugly strand of political extremism that is not without precedent in this country, but this one is different from some before it, heavily flavored as it as with the almost always toxic dose of religious fundamentalism.These people are not only sure that they are cloaked in secular righteousness and faux patriotism, but they claim divine right, as well.

Claim that you are acting in the names of God and country, and you can justify anything and everything.The Republican Party is very much in need of a history lesson—from its own history. The party went through the same convulsions, the same internal civil war among its factions in 1964.

 That resulted in the nomination of a candidate, Barry Goldwater, from its then rogue wing, a candidate that proudly said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” His subsequent presidential election against Lyndon Johnson resulted in one of the greatest landslide defeats in American history—Goldwater won only 39 percent of the vote—but also marked the end of Democratic domination in the South and forced the Republican Party to rearrange itself, the beginning of a transformation that has evolved into first great success, but then into what it is today. What remains of the Republican establishment may yet put down this insurrection and reclaim control of their party. But were I among them, I would be very nervous for the barbarians are at the gates.

(Ray Mosby is publisher of The Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.)