According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, immediately after the election, a prominent Republican U.S. Senator “denounced the ‘radical right’ for kidnapping the Republican Party and assailed the ‘kooks, zanies, nuts, and hecklers, the absolute lunatic fringe.”
It’s hard to believe that a Republican would tell the truth about his party, but it did happen. The article appeared in the Inquirer on November 8, 1964 and the senator was Pennsylvania’s Hugh Scott. The election was the trouncing of Barry Goldwater.
Such candor from the party today is virtually non-existent. Message discipline is executed to a tee, and any so-called “moderate Republican” is ostracized and purged.
The press portrays Chris Christie as a “moderate.” Probably because he occasionally does things that tweak the rank-and-file like work out a deal with Senator Sweeney to retain the state’s chief justice. But as the Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association and as an all-but-declared presidential candidate, Christie has embraced the radical right-wing agenda and puts himself and his wealthy cronies ahead of the needs of the people he has sworn to serve.
Given the outcome of this week’s election, perhaps that’s a wise move for him. Or maybe not. With the Republican takeover of the Senate, look for a backslide in the economy, more income inequality, and an institutionalization of right-wing extremism. With a few more years to go as New Jersey’s governor, look for Christie’ economic right-wing policies to cause further problems for him and for us.
Hugh Scott is dead. So is moderate Republicanism. It’s up to the Democrats to effectively call out the GOP for what it is.