Posts Tagged ‘Howard Fineman’
December 8th, 2009 at 12:26 am
Creating a Party of Freedom
Posted by Print

A new Rasmussen Reports poll out today shows that if the Tea Party movement was an organized political party it would poll second nationally (at 23%, 13 points behind the Democrats).  Many reports on the numbers play up the growing influence of this grassroots force on the right, but that may miss the bigger point: Republicans came in third in the poll, with only 18% supporting the GOP.

Read those numbers closely; with Republicans and Tea Partiers divided, Democrats win (a lesson learned in the congressional race in the New York 23rd).  Thus, if the right hopes to regain political traction it’s going to have to create a fusionist project between the mainstream GOP and the “mad as hell and not going to take it any more” Tea Party movement.

A possible prescription for this kind of Republican renaissance improbably shows up this week’s edition of Newsweek, courtesy of Howard Fineman, whose columns usually tend toward EZ-Bake liberalism.  However, in a piece entitled “Is There a Doctor in the House?”, Fineman perceptively notes that the GOP could do a lot worse than straightening its spine through Ron Paul’s example:

… The GOP needs to study Ron Paul, and learn. No one has better captured the sense of Main Street outrage over secret insider deals and Wall Street bonuses. No one has been more consistent about sticking to core conservative values—including the one that says the government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in. If the GOP is going to appeal to independent voters, it has to confront its own corporate allies. “Republicans need to find a populist edge again,” says Craig Shirley, the author of Rendezvous With Destiny, a new account of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. “Reagan spoke to the guy who thought he was being screwed by big business, by big government, by the big media.” The good doctor, of all people, is showing Republicans the way. What they need is a candidate who embodies the spirit of Ron Paul. Just so long as it isn’t Ron Paul.

There’s a lot of sense in Fineman’s diagnostic (along with this, a sign of the apocalypse).  On foreign policy, Paul is still peddling ideas long ago discredited by Charles Lindbergh and Bob Taft.  But on the domestic side, his compass is truer than most of the GOP.  When the Republican Party isn’t rooted in notions of small government and individual liberty, it tends towards existential drift.  And we all know where that leads.