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“No Interest in Governance”

March 1, 2012

As the Republican Party has veered ever rightward, conservative thinkers have increasingly joined the GOP’s critics.  I’ve twice had occasion to quote some of those critics.  I quoted conservative author Craig Shirley’s observation that “much of the intellectualism inside the G.O.P has been drained out over the past ten years.”  And I quoted conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, formerly of the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, who said that the Republican Party is “insane.”

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has become fairly critical of mainstream Republicanism in recent years.  This week he wrote that members of today’s Republican right “have no interest in governance.  They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed.”

This of course is not news to liberals.  But it’s gratifying when respected conservatives start saying it out loud.  (And it’s great fun to read Mr. Brooks call the Republican right “wingers.”)

Brooks calls the sequence of not-Romney front-runners “embarrassing and unelectable.”  He dishonorably mentions Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, the Arizona “papers please” law, and the House Republicans’ rejection of “even the possibility of budget compromise.”  Brooks goes on to say that “professional” conservatives complain privately about the “insular” and “rigid” orthodoxy of the party.  He calls those conservatives out for going into “an involuntary coma every time they’re challenged aggressively from the right.”  He faults the Republican establishment for abrogating its duty to “educate the party, to police against its worst indulgences, to guard against insular information loops.”

Clearly, Brooks regards his public stance against the “wingers” as good and noble, doing what he says the party leadership has failed to do.  But my question for Mr. Brooks – and for other conservatives who recognize the intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party – my question for them is this:

How long do you wait?  How long do you stay loyal to a political party that is not concerned with governance?

When, Mr. Brooks, does a moral, patriotic conservative leave that party?

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