Which Elephant in the Room?
September 12, 2012
Here is a link to a column by Ross Douthat entitled “The Elephant in the Room,” which both enunciates and illustrates the problems the Republicans are having in beating Obama. To put it most succinctly, Douthat’s column says that the Republicans have little to offer the American people, especially after the debacle of the Shrub presidency. To wit:
“A presidential nominee could have filled this breach [caused by the Bush administration] with fresh rhetoric and creative policy, but Romney, compromised and uncourageous, hasn’t been the right man for that job. On economics, he’s shifted awkwardly between a message that focuses (sensibly) on the struggles of the middle and working classes and a much more conventional right-wing celebration of entrepreneurs and “job creators.” On national security, he’s campaigned as a by-the-numbers hawk, with barely a hint that hawkishness might have delivered America into difficulties during the last Republican administration.”
True enough. But what Douthat illustrates is that this is all the Republicans – or the Democrats for that matter – have as he does not say what this “fresh rhetoric and creative policy” would be. And there is a reason for this emptiness, viz., Douthat’s failure, again illustrated by both Republicans and Democrats, to see that the need is not for “fresh rhetoric” or “creative policy” but for republican rhetoric and republican policy. But because they are not actually a genuinely “republican” party, all the Republicans – or the Democrats – could offer was faux republican sentiments like those of Ann Romney, who tried to make it seem that young students attending college and living like college students were real republicans. This is the equivalent of Sarah Palin’s claim that she understood the Russians because she could see Russia from her house.
But this game is up. This race has been run already, as Douthat points out, and it led, through the Clinton administration, to the Bush administration which led to debacles both abroad and at home. Most people are sensing that our political class is all smoke and mirrors, e.g., that Paul Ryan is not in actuality a deficit hawk and certainly not genuinely interested in republican values and, therefore, not much different than Shrub or even Ronald Reagan. But as Douthat himself illustrates, the Republicans have nothing to offer because they are not interested in a genuinely republican politics, that is, a politics that seeks to preserve or attain some decent level of social, political, and economic equality, that seeks to create or return to a society that aspires to be, at bottom, basically but pervasively egalitarian even if this means a society that is not as wealthy at home or as powerful abroad as that which both the Republican and Democratic parties now aspire to.