GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 28, 2013

Letter: Senate scramble shows state of GOP


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor;

Could it be that Massachusetts Republicans will be unable to field a viable candidate in the special election to fill the Senate seat long held by John Kerry?

It certainly looks that way.

These can’t be easy days to be a Republican in Massachusetts. In fact, these can’t be easy days to be a Republican anywhere.

In some ways, what has happened to the GOP in recent years is reminiscent of what happened to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s when it moved too far to the left and alienated millions of moderate and independent American voters.

The Republican Party over the last decade has moved so far to the right and allowed itself to be taken over at its base by a minority of peope so extreme in their views that the party is in danger of becoming irrelevant, especially at the national level.

There is a real irony in the fact Ronald Reagan would likely not be conservative enough for the overwhelmingly white, far right, Tea Party extremists who now dominate the GOP base. After all, the Gipper raised taxes close to a dozen times during his tenure as president and compromised with Democratic leaders on numerous ocassions. Heck, he even liked some of them!

Compromise and cooperation are dirty words to the most extreme, right wing, Tea Party elements of today’s GOP.

Republican and Democratic politicians have always disagreed on many things but they also had the capacity, when the greater good called for it, to find ways to ameliorate their differences and act in the best interests of the nation. There are countless examples of that reality throughout our nation’s history.

Politics in a democratic republic cannot function if there is no room for compromise or a willingness on the part of both parties to give up a little of this to get some of that.

We have been witnessing the fallout of that dysfunction for a decade now as the GOP has moved increasingly to the extreme right, and that trend accelerated dramatically in the wake of Barack Obama’s election in 2008.

Anyone who doubts that assertion needs to recall Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement shortly after President Obama’s first inaugural. With the economy still on its knees in early 2009, and the risk of another Great Depression still very real, McConnell made clear the GOP’s top priority was not to work with the president to prevent a national calamity. No, sir. McConnell made clear the GOP’s top priority was to make sure Barack Obama was a one-term president.

That is not a “loyal opposition.” That is unpatriotic obstructionism, pure and simple. An argument could even be made that, given the economic peril the country was still facing in early 2009, McConnell’s public declaration of his intent to undermine the president to assure he was a one termer bordered on the treasonous.

With March, 1 and the sequestration cuts in the works, Republican/Tea Party right is, for the third time in less than two years, playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship that threatens to send the economy into a recessionary tail spin if the draconian cuts the sequester mandates go into effect.

That’s why these cannot be easy times for adult and responsible Republicans like our own Bruce Tarr and Charlie Baker, and others like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Maine Senator Susan Collins.

If the sequester is not avoided and the economy slides back into recession, all Republicans will likely be held accountable by voters. That will not be fair. I say that because it really is the minority, far right, Tea Party faction that dominates and intimidates the House GOP caucus and GOP senators with threats of primary challenges in 2014 if they compromise with the White House and Democrats.

The Tea Party has all but destroyed the “Reagan coalition” and it is working overtime to destroy the once great and rational party of Abraham Lincoln as well.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester and Vieques, Puerto Rico