Sorry, But The Republican Party Isn't 'Extremist'
By David Harsanyi, The Federalist --
In Slate, Jamelle Bouie asserts that the “Republican Party in 2017 isn’t an ordinary political party. It is an ideological outlier, the most extreme party coalition since the Civil War.”
If this depiction sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve been hearing iterations of it from the moment you started following politics — and it doesn’t matter how long ago you started. This Congress, this president, this Republican, is always the most extreme America has ever seen. If this were always true, we’d be living in the America of Meryl Streep’s fertile imagination.
It’s probably safe to assume that most contemporary liberals view conservatives in similar terms (although weren’t Republicans the good guys during the Civil War?). Then again, for liberals, extremism resides mere millimeters to the right of their own position, which has rapidly shifted left over the past 15 years.
An extremist “is a person who holds extreme or fanatical political or religious views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.” An outlier is a thing “situated away or detached from the main body or system.” Though they may be hopelessly burrowed on the wrong side of history, these definitions do not fit contemporary Republicans.
For one thing, the GOP has fundamentally offered the same ideas for the past six congresses, at least. So, by definition, this one isn’t an outlier. Although some of the specifics might change, the ideological consensus of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Congress — on both economic and social issues — are comparable with John Boehner’s Congress, and for that matter with Newt Gingrich’s Congress.
On the other hand, Barack Obama is arguably the most ideologically left-wing president in history. Who knows what the agenda would have looked like if he’d had benefitted from a Democratic Party majority for eight years. His major legislative achievement, a massive, federally run health-care law, was only tempered by the presence of Blue Dog Democrats – now an extinct tribe.
Republicans have been wildly successful winning elections recently — more than 1,000-plus seats in state and national races since Obama took office — arguing exactly what Bouie claims is fanaticism. These policies might not be popular at the Golden Globes Awards, but they are by definition mainstream.