Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Are there three kinds of Republicans?

Jon Henke at the QandO blog seems to think so. He also has a look at some big discrepancies between the way some conservatives judge John McCain, as compared to recent conservative presidents. He also offers some explanations as to why this is so, in defiance of the facts. Here are some excerpts:

Republicans and McCain
[...] My fundamental problem with McCain comes down to his philosophical approach to government. While I, like Arnold Kling, am anxious for "someone with humility about what government can do in general and what a President can do in particular", John McCain is a Progressive Republican, from the Teddy Roosevelt branch of the Republican Party.

It seems to me that there are three main branches of the Republican Party...

  • Teddy Roosevelt Republicans (Progressive Republicans) - "The object of government is the welfare of the people," (Teddy Roosevelt) so Great Men must sometimes do Big Things.

  • Goldwater Republicans - Limited government, Individual liberty, Strong defense; "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom." (Goldwater]

  • Bush Republicans - Big Government is fine, so long as the government does social conservative things. "Prayers can help, and so can the government." - President Bush, February 6, 2008

A Progressive Republican like John McCain is better than a Bush Republican, but it is not the Goldwater Republican for which I hope. Still, with very few Goldwater Republicans around and with the potential for Democrats to consolidate control of the government, it's better than the available alternatives.


McCain is perceived as an almost wholly unacceptable Republican (primarily) for his positions on immigration and campaign finance reform, with additional anger directed at him over a few other issues. Yet, President Bush presided over/supported, e.g., No Child Left Behind, the immigration reform bill, McCain-Feingold, the Medicare Drug Bill, a massive expansion of federal spending, egregious agriculture and energy bills, a badly conceived and conducted war in Iraq, and myriad other anti-limited government positions. And he did most of that with a Republican Congress.

Bush is worse in almost every respect - having actively introduced and supported outrageous violations of the putative ideals of the Right - but he is not regarded with the same anger. Why?

What's more, Reagan raised taxes 6 out of his 8 years as President; Reagan maintained diplomatic relations with even our worst enemies, including negotiation and compromise when it was useful; Reagan voted for immigration amnesty; Reagan failed to restrain the growth of government, etc. But today, the Right lionizes Reagan and revolts over McCain.

I have a theory for why this is so. [...]

Indeed he does! It's enough to make you want to scream "Gosh people, WAKE UP and smell the coffee! Look at the facts, they are a matter of public record, not imagination. And as to the why... well I'd love to say more, but I can't excerpt the whole thing here, so do follow the link over there and read the entire article, it's real food for thought. It addresses some thoughts I know that I've been having about some Republican's objections to McCain. These things need to be looked at and examined thoroughly, if we are to ultimately unite our party and WIN.

Related Link:

A riff on "redefining conservatism"

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