Friedman: GOP Denial Is Destroying The Party And The Nation

The political obsessions of the Republican base — from denying global warming to defending assault weapons to opposing any tax increases under any conditions, to resisting any immigration reform — are making it impossible to be a Republican moderate, said Carville. And without more Republican moderates, there is no way to strike the kind of centrist bargains that have been at the heart of American progress — that got us where we are and are essential for where we need to go.

That’s NY Times columnist Tom Friedman in his latest column, “Send in the Clowns.” He notes:

… if Republicans continue to be led around by, and live in fear of, a base that denies global warming after Hurricane Sandy and refuses to ban assault weapons after Sandy Hook — a base that would rather see every American’s taxes rise rather than increase taxes on millionaires — the party has no future. It can’t win with a base that is at war with math, physics, human biology, economics and common-sense gun laws all at the same time.

Nor can we stop catastrophic climate change without a Congress that will support strong action. The fossil-fuel-funded Tea Party is apparently content destroy the GOP, the nation’s future, and the climate — though not necessarily in that order.

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36 Responses to Friedman: GOP Denial Is Destroying The Party And The Nation

  1. Ozonator says:

    The extreme GOP’s destruction of everything they touch may be another canary in their coal mine. It has been little more than a generation since US homes have gotten out of burning cigarettes and wood/coal. The more affluent have now lived in gated communities with energy efficient homes. Into their world, household use of exempted, toxic chemicals has increased and their birthrates have fallen. Increased toxic exposure has turned them into belligerent “drunks” with linear thinking, guns, power, and money. And we 47% are they abused significant others.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    The Republicans deserve to be disgraced and run out of town, but if that were to happen the oil companies would just purchase the Democrats that they don’t already own.

    The power of this money became evident a few years ago, when Lindsey Graham and John McCain said they were OK with a carbon tax. After Mitch McConnell read them the riot act- which probably included “no money from RNC if you keep this up”- they meekly mouthed denier talking points, and their body language was that of men who had just been castrated behind the barn.

    We are seeing an inner failure, including in those of us who elect these weak excuses for men. That’s one reason I’m glad McKibben and Hansen are out front here, since people sense their integrity.

    A first step would be to call out those who always vote for the oil companies no matter what. The Dems won’t do it, because they are cowards too, and won’t risk losing any Blue Dogs. We will have to clean up Washington and the press if we are to have any chance to clean up our atmosphere. As always, this effort will have to come from the people.

  3. caerbannog says:

    If you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check out John Cook’s really good Christmas-themed AGW cartoon:

  4. Mike, I basically agree with you except for one thing. The Republican Party has become so extreme that is easy for Democrats to use them as the bogeyman. Americans practice the politics of fear; afraid of what the Republicans will do on climate, reproductive rights, immigration… afraid of the Democrats leaving us in fiscal bondage to China or, gasp, turning us into a socialist society. That fear is even the strength of the NRA.

    The politics of fear is also what makes it difficult for any political opposition to develop and without that opposition, why would Democrats change?

    Besides, having the message come from Friedman makes it so easy for Republicans to be dismissive ad just another… fill in the words.

  5. Timothy Hughbanks says:

    I keep seeing this “destroying the GOP” meme, but it is sadly overblown. If it were true, it would be cause for celebration, but it really isn’t. All the post-election hype notwithstanding, their losses were moderate. They lost a few Senate seats – and that has to be seen as their worst hit, since the number of Democratic seats in play far exceeded the number of GOP seats. They lost the presidency by a 3% margin in the popular vote after having conducted a clownish campaign with a slate of the worst primary candidates I can ever remember. Their losses in the House were very modest. (Yes, I know, gerrymandering figured in significantly there. Historically though, gerrymandering by Democrats kept them in the majority in the eighties and nineties even as their base was being eroded in the total vote count.) If we had seen a landslide like Johnson-Goldwater, Nixon-McGovern, or Reagan-Mondale, then we could be talking about “destruction of the GOP”. I would love to believe that Friedman is right about the GOP having “no future”, but the electoral evidence for that assertion is weak.

    Sadly, the American media is now so thoroughly skewed by corporate influence that most of the American populace is pretty much clueless as to the facts of almost any issue where corporate interests are served by their ignorance. The American people, overwhelmingly, still buy into the false balance approach to the issues. They don’t know the real scale of the climate threat, and many (most?) of them still don’t understand there is no credible ‘opposing view’. They don’t understand that their economic futures are now almost entirely controlled by a small oligarchy that now controls most of the wealth of the nation. They don’t understand that their sources of information are controlled by that same oligarchy. As long as that is the case, the GOP is, sadly, still very much alive … and it continues to pull the Democratic pary rightward as well.

  6. john atcheson says:

    There seems to be a growing awareness on the part of the press and punditocracy that the Republican Party has jumped the shark … they are no longer about conservative values, they are becoming a collection of ignorant nihilists.

    Ornstein and Mann’s piece this Spring kicked it off. It’s now officially OK to call the crazy people, crazy.

    I guess that’s a Christmas present of sorts.

  7. Paul Klinkman says:

    Many of the Christian (including the Evangelical) party supporters believe in stewardship of the earth. The GOP leadership can continue to lose these Christians outright, but if they so choose, soon the GOP will have no actual political power forever and ever.

    They’ll have a lump of coal, though.

  8. wial says:

    The debate should be between the dems (people first) and the greens (environment first). The GOP (me first) has no place in America’s future, any more than monarchy does.

  9. Wial commented “The debate should be between the dems (people first) and the greens (environment first).”
    This is a false distinction. People are part of and depend on the environment. When we damage the environment, we are hurting ourselves.

  10. Paul Magnus says:

    Bunch of spoilt kids, dragging everyone into oblivion.

  11. DallasNE says:

    Excuse me but I thought it was Mitt Romney who has been described as a pioneer in outsourcing to China so that means it is Romney and Republicans are who we should fear on outsourcing to China rather than the democrats so that statement is a big misfire.

  12. Paul says:

    Well stated.

  13. DallasNE says:

    I hear what you are saying but disagree on some main points. This election was Republicans to lose with the state of the economy and they lost so that took some doing. And the doing was in the demographics — there just were not enough angry white men to win the election this time around and the demographics is a big enemy of the GOP going forward. I will give you high marks regarding the media and how ill-informed Americans are as a result of the media’s corporate tilt. If that ever self-corrects it is still another burden for the GOP to overcome making this election loss even more significant for the GOP. Lastly, the electoral map is where the GOP gets clobbered and that only looks to get worse. It really requires voter suppression in order for the GOP to become competetive and I’m not sure how much the American public will put up with this — or the courts for that matter.

  14. pat holman says:

    by the time the GOP realizes their problem we will all be dead. if you haven’t noticed the latest research shows that life as we know it may be unsustainable by 2035..that’s a little close to wait for the ‘brat pack’ to wake up….if Americans can’t get behind this after what they have seen with their own eyes ( record setting weather year after year )then NOTHING will wake them up!

  15. Superman1 says:

    The political leaders of either party will take no actions without the consent of their constituents. And, if you think the American public is ready to make the sacrifices in fossil fuel use required to save this planet, think again. What you are seeing now is Jonestown 1979 writ large.

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Bought Climate Change Denier Heads Science Committee?!?

  17. Tom Friedman of the NY Times was spot on. To be so assured that your way is the ONLY defies a sense of a collective nation, which they supposedly are trying to protect.

  18. Corporations and the stock market are structured expressly to favor short-term thinking. No senior executive in a Fortune 500 company secures his or her tenure by worrying about posterity. They worry about one thing: keeping their company financially competitive for the next few quarters.

    Why? Because that’s the legal construct. They have a fiduciary responsibility to do exactly that. If they don’t, they’re out, or even subject to lawsuits.

    This lines up exquisitely with GOP mentality, which equates (I would say conflates) economic freedom with political freedom. The Citizens United decision is the capstone that cements the two together. Money is speech, and government action to the contrary is “intrusion.”

    We lack a carbon price. We allow corporations to give unlimited money to political causes. Those are realities executives must observe as they discharge their fiduciary responsibility.

    By all means, let’s discredit the GOP for every pig-headed, retrograde, anti-science and anti-social position they take–especially the ones that impose risks and costs on the rest of us. But until we have a carbon price, and pass laws that corporations are not people and money is not speech, that effort will be secondary.

    We have to give executives another framework–one that requires them to explicitly consider a carbon price and the inability to make political donations. They will act accordingly.

    I recognize the bootstrap problem–such laws aren’t likely to be passed as long as the GOP has any influence. But passing these laws does provide a tangible goal, which simply vilifying the GOP doesn’t, as gratifying as it might be.

    Pointing out unfair and extreme positions will raise consciousness among the persuadable. But we need solid goals. A carbon price and de-personifying corporations are pivotal.

    That, and save the ice cap. That’s another solid, tangible and, I hope, still achievable goal.

  19. Stan Brody says:

    Suggest that everyone read the entire “Send in The Clowns” article… One of his best… An absolute majority of one party is equally bad… The nation requires a viable, realistic opposition… For the good of the country, the GOP must heal itself… The extremes of both parties are equally dangerous…

  20. Jack Johnson says:

    Regarding the Executive Branch, the GOP is in serious trouble. Upon accepting the nomination in 2016 the Democratic candidate will look out upon a nation where states accounting for 245 electoral votes have voted for the Democrat for six consecutive presidential elections.

    Local elections and especial local elections in off-presidential elections are another matter and until Democrats can get their supporters to the polls the GOP is far from dead and very possibly as dangerous and radical as they are today.

  21. Roy says:

    Government spending is out of control. Too much waste and no accountablilty! All members of Congress and the President is to blame for this mess…not any one party!

  22. Joris Heise says:

    the Roman Republic fell because the Senators could not get along and it had been escalating slowly but surely into a civil war between factions. Julius Caesar came along and politically maneuvered his popularity with the common folk into a dictatorship that led to a mono-cracy. That is what will happen if the Extremist Conservatives keep holding the Republican Party hostage.

  23. Dave Scottt says:

    Timothy, I’d agree more if you didnt overstate your case. Longterm problems loom for the GOP, not only the Hispanic-Latino vote but consistent whopping losses among under 30s. And a President who by all rights should have been vulnerable won an electoral landslide by winning virtually all of of the states where the candidates campaigned. “Slate of the worst primary candidates ever?” That’s what their party process produced in a year that was supposed to be one where the GOP nomination was well worth fighting for. GOP primaries now push candidates to the nutcase right extreme. They will continue to do that, and this is not a party capable of governing — as this month’s events are showing. You also vastly overstate the effects of gerrymandering helping Democrats in the 1990s — it’s flatly not the case and if it were 1994 would not have happened. What you ARE correct about is that Republicans are likely to control at least one house of Congress through this decade.

  24. Artful Dodger says:

    Current GOP (read Koch Industries) strategy is to cripple the Federal Government, and take over the State Houses. Watch what ALEC is doing for that.

    And remember, they still control the Supreme Court, and with Roberts in his 50s that will continue for 30+ years.

    Climate will be FUBAR by then: Mission Accomplished.

  25. Artful Dodger says:

    Hi, ACW

    Do you really think we can get that done by 2016, +/- 3 years? After that, the Arctic sea ice is toast.

    The time to act was 1998. That ship, like the Titanic, has sailed. We hit the iceberg in 2007. Now we’re on that short, damp cruise from the surface to the bottom of the North Atlantic.

  26. Artful Dodger says:

    Stan, curious, in what particular way are the Dems ‘extreme’? If you answer, please also compare them to extremes on the other side. Unless this is false balance. Then feel free to prattle on.

  27. D-train says:

    Sure! Many have predicted the demise of the Republican Party in the past, but now that Thomas Friedman has done it, it’s practically a forgone conclusion. I expect the GOP to collapse sometime within the next six months.

  28. June Walker says:

    Another issue is this system no longer works. I’m an independant voter who votes democratic because the other alternatives are dangerous to me and my family’s health and welfare. My daughter and I am moving to Sedona because there are no nuclear plants and oil industry fracking but there are guns in AZ and a move to succeed. What has this world come to! When the GOP goes…there’s nothing to replace it to make the system a so called democracy. Global greed mongers then just buy up more of America. Would be interesting to see how much of the real estate in this country has been acquired by global “investors”. There is so much more than even the core issues stated in this superb article. This nation no longer belongs to the American people! YES I am very concerned.

  29. These ideas are all Hail Marys. It’s fourth and forever from deep inside our own territory. I’m just trying to call the play most likely to succeed against the defense.

    So, yeah, we’re probably talking the difference between single-digit percentages for success. One vs. five. But go down fighting. No other choice. As long as we’re still in the game, something unexpected and good could happen. It’s pretty much all upside to try.

  30. Ken Barrows says:

    Tis true. And “centrist bargain” isn’t going to do it, notwithstanding Thomas Friedman.

  31. kermit says:

    The GOP have the psychology of abusive parents, and the Democrats are co-enablers. A compromise between the two are rarely effective, nor rational.

  32. Timeslayer says:

    I completely agree Timothy.

    Consistent with what you said, our first priority should be to absolutely decimate the Republican Party and marginalize them in electoral politics. If we can’t accomplish that, as a start, we have no chance of averting the worst that could happen to our planet. They are utterly beyond redemption and need to be taken out of power, permanently.


  33. Timeslayer says:

    Well said AD.

    A lot of people don’t want to face the fact that when one party is 100% wrong, it should get 0% of the votes. They have this weird desire to want to defend that party and keep them around, for some reason (i.e., for no valid reason).