Saturday, November 16, 2013

Republicans Who Aren't Crazy, Part 2

Conservative columnist David Frum on the need for sensible Republicans to make their voices heard in The Daily Beast.

There has always been a pool of Republicans who have doubted the party's radical turn. Until now, however, these Republicans have been quiet and passive. They came out to vote in 2010, but they did not join Tea Party rallies. They supported Mitt Romney in the primaries because he looked like a potential president, but they did not object when Romney fastened his campaign to the deadweight anchor of the Ryan plan. They look to Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell to fend off the crazies in the caucus, but they did not understand that those leaders' strategy for "fending off" the crazies consisted of abject appeasement of the crazies. Some of these more responsible Republicans are waking up at last. More must do so, many more, before the party can again become a positive force in American politics.

It's not enough to condemn the crazies in the company of friends. Responsible Republicans have to act. They have to organize and mobilize. This latest debt crisis exemplifies the problem: to threaten default on the obligations of the United States is simply not an acceptable tool of politics. Instead of making excuses—or rummaging through the record books looking for incidents that can be misrepresented as proof that "everybody does it"—responsible Republicans need to challenge their own party. The party leaders know the right thing to do. They are afraid to do it. Blame the leaders for their faint-heartedness, if you like. But remember, faint-hearted politicians are the norm. In the past, faint-hearted politicians behaved in mostly sensible ways because they were afraid to act recklessly. Today they are afraid not to act recklessly, and the failure of their non-reckless constituents to make themselves heard is a big part of the story of that new fear.

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