Huston: GOP Childishness

July 22, 2016

In 1996, another Texas Senator sought the Republican presidential nomination unsuccessfully. This was his explanation for entering the race:

“I am running for president because I want to finish the Reagan revolution. I am also running for president because I believe, if we don’t change the policy of our government, if we don’t change it soon, and if we don’t change it dramatically, in 20 years, we’re not going to be living in the same country that we grew up in. I think, whether you look at crime, or illegitimacy, or the deficit, or the tax burden, or the break-down of the traditional values that made America great to begin with, and have sustained it for over 200 years, you’ve got to reach the frightening conclusion that we’re either going to change the way our government does our business, or we’re going to lose the American dream.”

After eight years of George W. Bush and the failed candidacies of George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney that led to the Clinton and Obama presidencies, the prophecy of Phil Gramm rings true. We are not living in the same country that most of us grew up in, and no small share of the responsibility rests with those Republicans and “Conscience” Conservatives who have for two decades embraced the conventional wisdom of the coastal elites and ignored the concerns of those whom we in the Nixon White House referred to as the “Middle Americans’ and which Donald Trump (following FDR) identifies as the “Forgotten Americans.”

In my view, the post-Reagan conservative leadership has failed the American people and deserves to be repudiated. The conservative commentariat has isolated itself from the concerns of real people and has prospered while operating in an echo chamber. I find it reassuring that most of the old Goldwater people with whom I worked closely half a century ago are standing by the Trump-Pence ticket as the only line of defense against the realization of Hillary’s America.

Neo-conservatives were nowhere to be found in the Goldwater campaign, and it is no surprise to me that they have jumped ship in this one. There are a lot of bruised egos on the Republican Right who have yet to reconcile themselves with the reality of the political landscape, and they are being played by people more interested in their personal agendas than in the national interest. Echoing Barry Goldwater at the 1960 GOP convention that nominated Richard Nixon, it is once again time for conservatives to grow up.

— Tom Charles Huston


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