Bruce Bartlett has written a rather sad article in the American Conservative , detailing his estrangement from the conservative movement–or at least, the folks who have current ownership of that title. He begins by listing his past service to the Republican party and conservative causes, service that should have earned him the right to dissent from orthodoxy without being shunned.
Of course, it didn’t. When your economic and political beliefs take on the character of religious dogma–when they become matters of faith rather than opinions grounded in experience and evidence–dissent becomes blasphemy.
As Bartlett describes his journey into the “reality-based world” (his own description), he makes some discoveries that startle him.
For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades.
The final line for me to cross in complete alienation from the right was my recognition that Obama is not a leftist. In fact, he’s barely a liberal—and only because the political spectrum has moved so far to the right that moderate Republicans from the past are now considered hardcore leftists by right-wing standards today. Viewed in historical context, I see Obama as actually being on the center-right.
Of course, Bartlett is correct about Obama’s centrism. It drives the left wing of the Democratic party nuts.
When I read “The Audacity of Hope,” I remarked that Obama’s philosophy as described in that volume was virtually identical to that of a moderate Republican–at least, as moderate Republicans defined ourselves in the 1980s. His positions were pretty much the positions I’d espoused in my run for Congress back then, when I was actually considered part of the conservative wing of the party.
When I left the GOP in 2000, the party had already left me. It had shifted dramatically to the Right, and it has continued its radical transformation. That so many thoughtful people fail to recognize how different today’s GOP is from the party of Goldwater and even Reagan is something of a statement on our very human tendency to resist recognition of change.
It’s like looking in the mirror every morning for years without noticing that your formerly black hair has been slowly turning grey, that your once-rosy complexion is becoming a bit more wrinkled each day…and then somehow, suddenly and without warning, actually seeing that you’ve aged thirty years. When did that happen?
Bartlett looked in the mirror. It’s a sad article, but well worth the read.