Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Coming GOP Restructuring: Toward Liberty or Religious Authoritarianism?

In August, Albert R. Hunt raised the specter of a radical restructuring of the Republican Party, noting that Romney May Signal the End of Establishment Republicans' Rule.

At that point in the presidential campaign, the Romney team appeared to be headed for defeat. Unsurprisingly, that has now become a reality. Hunt wrote:

The grass-roots, ideologically driven base typified by the Tea Party movement ... is maturing into full control.
The establishment Republicans generally hold more moderate views, some having grown up in the party, others coming from business, and with a general appreciation of an “activist, limited government.”
Movement conservatives are motivated by ideology, sometimes small-government economics, other times the religious social agenda. They range from Paul Ryan, the small-government, economic policy-savvy vice-presidential candidate, to Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate contender who last week suggested that it is rare for women to become pregnant as a result of rape, saying “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
From Washington to the state capitals to the local level, the movement conservatives are in the ascendancy. For years, the Republican base was divided; it’s now dominated by the movement types.

From the end of the Reagan Administration through the second Bush Administration, Hunt notes, the GOP was dominated by liberal or "moderate" ("Establishment") Republicans. But the Establishment Republicans' reign culminated in the surging statism of the last 12 years, and the loss of an election that should have brought them a sweeping victory. Clearly, if the Republican Party is to become relevant, it needs to radically restructure.

But the movement conservatives and the Tea Party movement are afflicted by their own great divide--between (a general appreciation of) economic liberty and social authoritarianism. Free market capitalism simply cannot coexist with the Religious Right, or religion generally. On the dark side are the likes of Akin and Richard Mourdock and their cruel comments on rape. On the bright side are the likes of Margaret Hoover, who has called on the Republican Party to repudiate the anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-same-sex marriage Religious Right and social conservative elements of its agenda and unite the party platform under the principle of "American Individualism."  (See my Objective Standard review of her book of that title.)

To become relevant, the New Republican Party will have to choose one direction or the other. To learn how to help push the GOP in the right direction--the direction of individualism and individual rights--I urge you to read Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas can End Big Government.

Related Reading:

My Challenge to the GOP; a Philosophical Contract with America

Understanding Obama: It's Not the Economy, Stupid!

Will the 58% Save America?

Politics 2012: Can "American Individualism" Save the GOP--and America?

Election 2010: Is it 1966, or a Real Turning of the Statist Tide?

Ayn Rand Foresaw Conservatism's Second Obituary

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