Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Progressivism of the Republican Party (What?)

Ted Cruz: not a member of the Party of Lincoln? You got that right...

Here's a fascinating view of the three principal progressives of the Republican Party:
How did the progressive Republican Party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Eisenhower become the reactionary party of Ronald Reagan, the tea party and Paul Ryan?
There is nothing random about these ideological shifts. They reflect the party’s — and the nation’s — central unresolved problem: the tension between equality of opportunity and protection of private property.
This tension has driven American politics since the nation’s earliest days. The Declaration of Independence promised citizens equal access to economic opportunity. This was the powerful principle for which men were willing to fight the American Revolution, but it was never codified in law. When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they assumed that the country’s vast resources would ensure equality of opportunity. Worried instead about stability, they enshrined in the Constitution another principle: that property rights must be protected.
Do read this lengthy yet pithy piece. It's brilliant in its conception and accurate in explication. An important thing that it accomplishes is explaining how the Republican Party of today is disconnected from the progressivism of the iconic Republicans of the past. Republicans are fond of declaring themselves "the Party of Lincoln," forgetting the part of the cycle where they abandoned Lincoln's views. So it was with Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. The party has abandoned Roosevelt's trust-busting and turning of federal lands into national treasures, just as it's currently so resistant to Eisenhower-sized infrastructure projects like our national highway system. He did build that.

Why? Progressivism is expensive, especially for the rich. And, since Reagan, Republicans are increasingly the party of entrenched power and wealth.

Progressivism, it must be noted, is only expensive at the front end. At the back end, it's wealth shared by all. Highways, bridges, ports, and airports contribute to everyone's well-being, mostly especially the wealthy who literally profit by them.

How is this not clearly understood by the whole world of policy makers, let alone the electorate? Maybe it actually is, with the classic Upton Sinclair frame clarifying things:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Yep. Only I'd paraphrase it:
It is difficult to get a Republican to remember something, when his current ideology depends on his not remembering it.
That's about right.

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