There has been a lot of talk since the election about the possible emergence of a new faction within the Republican party... These new Republicans, we’re told, are willing to be more open-minded on cultural issues, more understanding of immigrants, and more skeptical that trickle-down economics is enough; they’ll favor direct measures to help working families.
So what should we call these new Republicans? I have a suggestion: why not call them “Democrats”?
There are three things you need to understand here.
First, on economic issues the modern Democratic party is what we would once have considered “centrist”, or even center-right. ...
Second, today’s Republican party is an alliance between the plutocrats and the preachers, plus some opportunists along for the ride — full stop. The whole party is about low taxes at the top (and low benefits for the rest), plus conservative social values and putting religion in the schools; it has no other reason for being. Someday there may emerge another party with the same name standing for a quite different agenda... But that will take a long time, and it won’t really be the same party.
Finally, it’s true that there are some Republican intellectuals and pundits who seem to be truly open-minded about both economic and social issues. But I worded that carefully: they “seem to be” open-minded; indeed, they’re professional seemers. When it matters, they can always be counted on — after making a big show of stroking their chins and agonizing — to follow the party line, and reject anything that doesn’t go along with the preacher-plutocrat agenda. If they don’t deliver when it counts, they are excommunicated; see Frum, David.
Anyone who imagines that there is any real soul-searching going on is deluding himself or herself.
... Practically every ambitious politician in the party is making soothing noises about being nicer to Hispanics, lightening up on social issues, and compromising on the fiscal cliff, but the thing is, it's all just talk. With only a couple of exceptions from some of the few actual moderates still left in the party, the Jindals and Walkers and Rubios are pretty transparently unwilling to change any actual policies. They're as hardnosed as ever on abortion and taxes and amnesty. They just think the party should sound a little less hardnosed. ...
We have "plutocrats and the preachers" -- what happened to the libertarians?