What Have Moderate Republicans Ever Achieved?

David Frum

David Frum

Quite a bit, according to David Frum, when compared to their far-right contemporaries. First of all, they were actually winning elections with votes, not rigging the game:

In the six presidential elections of 1968 through 1988, the GOP averaged 52.5% of the vote. In the six presidential elections of 1992 through 2012, the GOP crossed the 50% mark only once.

The grand Republican win of 2010 was the product of unusual circumstances: more than one third of all votes cast were cast by voters over 60, the oldest electorate in any election since 1982. That circumstance was unlikely to repeat itself in 2012, and it didn’t.

In 2012, the GOP ran on the most conservative platform since 1964. It lost the presidency by almost 5 million votes, just under 4% of the popular vote. It lost the Senate. It held a diminished majority in the House only grace to gerrymandering: Democratic House candidates won more total votes than Republican candidates.

Second, they were able to enact sensible conservative reforms to the excesses of the New Deal:

But here’s an ironic truth: the Republicans of the rejected moderate era succeeded much better at undoing the excesses of the New Deal and Great Society than the immoderate Republicans of today. Between 1969 and 1983, they repealed New Deal regulation of civil aviation, trucking, shipping and railways; New Deal regulation of consumer banking and finance; and a vast swathe of controls of energy production and pricing. They stopped the construction of public housing, replacing it with Section 8 vouchers. They closed Great Society programs like the Office of Economic Opportunity and Model Cities.

What have the immoderate Republicans of the Tea Party era accomplished? Bupkus.

What went wrong? Many things, but start with this: Tea Party Republicans terrified the country. In 2011, they came within inches of forcing an entirely unnecessary government default. In 2012, they campaigned on a platform of ending the Medicare guarantee for younger people (while preserving every nickel of it for the Republican-voting constituencies over age 55) in order to finance a big tax cut for the richest Americans. Through the whole period 2009-2012, senior Republicans engaged in strident rhetoric of a kind simply not used by major party figures since the demise of Burton K. Wheeler and Alben Barkley. “Death panels” and “Ground Zero mosques”; Michele Bachman, Herman Cain and Donald Trump taking turns as the Republican front-runner; speakers of state legislatures praying for the death of the president and a former speaker of the House denouncing the president as a Kenyan anti-colonial alien to the American experience—we could fill this page with examples of important Republicans currying favor with their voting base by behaving in ways that the non-base would regard as reckless, racist, or just plain repellent.

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12 Responses to What Have Moderate Republicans Ever Achieved?

  1. btg5885 says:

    Great post. David Frum is one of the better guests to grace “Real Time with Bill Maher.” He is so good, people of opposing views tend to listen to him. I wish his more strident GOP friends would as they took the party in such a bad direction Gov, Bobby Jindal was correct when he said “we’ve become the stupid party.” They need to change more than tactics and talk to people who left the party or are about to. The demographics are forcing their hand on immigration, yet they need to join the rest of the world on climate change and stop thinking with testosterone about guns and start thinking like parents and grandparents. The US leads the civilized world in gun deaths by far – it is not even close and that is a problem. You cannot be taken seriously when you care more about guns than healthcare. Well done, BTG

  2. fatherkane says:

    But from the perspective of the ‘new’ Republicans, they have achieved the greratest sucess – they have stopped the ‘socialism’.
    True at the cost of bringing all of us to our knees but that is not a concern to ‘true believers’.
    Nor are there any signs of this course changing. Boehner, Cantor, McConnell all are emberacing (for various reasons) the ‘new’ Republicans.
    We have two years of obstructionism to look forward to.
    David Brooks wrote a good piece yesterday about the Republicans having to split into two different parties.
    Doubtful unless a very, very strong leader can actually lead the moderates away from the extreme right.
    For that, look to see how big Christie wins in November. If it’s huge, 70% – 30% or bigger, then he will be that leader.
    Because right now, the moderate Republicans are afraid of the extreme right.
    Christie would have a huge popular backing that provides the cover of saying ‘we don’t need you’.

  3. hughcurtler says:

    No question: the Republican Party is in tatters. It needs to jettison the far right and retool its image to appeal to the young and to women. It will be interesting to see if the Big Money in the Republican war chests can win a major election against these odds.

  4. Barneysday says:

    Reblogged this on Views from the Hill and commented:
    And yet, even after two multi-day meetings to review what went wrong in the last election, and to review how to improve the party for the future, the Republicans continue shooting themselves in the foot. Can they ever learn?

  5. Reblogged this on Outspoken and commented:
    Great post. Very much worth a read.

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