Things I Cannot Support

July 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. I have worked on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, at Forbes magazine, at the Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, as a speechwriter in the George W. Bush administration. I believe in free markets, low taxes, reasonable regulation, and limited government. I voted for John ­McCain in 2008, and I have strongly criticized the major policy decisions of the Obama administration. But as I contemplate my party and my movement in 2011, I see things I simply cannot support.

  • David Frum, Bush speechwriter, November 20, 2011.
  • Source: When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality? (by David Frum for New York Magazine)
  • Context: David Frum was a Bush speech writer who coined the term “Axis of Evil” for the Presidents State of the Union address in 2002. Since the end of the Bush administration, Frum has been frustrated by the state of the Republican Party and its policies. He was forced out of the American Enterprise Institute think tank in 2010 after he came out against the Republican Party’s blanket opposition to “ObamaCare”, saying that it was poor politics and that improving America’s healthcare system was a goal noble enough to warrant some compromise. His article for New York Magazine is a scathing criticism of what the Republican Party and conservative ideology have become today.
  • He specifically criticizes the party’s uncompromising stance on political issues, conservative talk radio and Fox News, the Tea Party, and its economic as well as social policies. Here are two excerpts from the article:

America desperately needs a responsible and compassionate alternative to the Obama administration’s path of bigger government at higher cost. And yet: This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners. When I entered Republican politics, during an earlier period of malaise, in the late seventies and early eighties, the movement got most of the big questions—crime, inflation, the Cold War—right. This time, the party is getting the big questions disastrously wrong.

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But the thought leaders on talk radio and Fox do more than shape opinion. Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy ­errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action ­phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”

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