This is Not Your Father’s Republican Party…Oh Wait, It Is.

Dennis Sanders

Dennis is the pastor of a small Protestant congregation outside St. Paul, MN and also a part-time communications consultant. A native of Michigan, you can check out his writings over on Medium and subscribe to his Substack newsletter on religion and politics called Polite Company.  Dennis lives in Minneapolis with his husband Daniel.

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30 Responses

  1. NewDealer says:

    The problem (as a non-Republican observer) is that Reagan seems to have been elevated to a level of unquestionable patron saint among the Republican Party. And as a non-Republican, I really do not understand the level of Reagan worship that seems to be in the GOP bloodstream.

    Even among Republicans who were really too young to know Reagan go back to him as a patron saint for some reason.

    I don’t think a comparable thing exists among the Democratic Party. We live FDR, LBJ, the Kennedys, the Clintons, and Obama but are aware of their faults. There are plenty of things I am willing to criticize any of those people for. Paul Wellstone is now forgotten. Elizabeth Warren holds the current liberal mantle but also has her critics in the party and on the left.

    Even the relative young guns in the Republican Party like Ryan and Cantor still seem to live in awe of the Reagan mythology. Chait had a good column about this several years ago. Key passage is at the end of the first link:

  2. NewDealer says:

    Even heretic conservatives like David Frum and Andrew Sullivan go through moments of Reagan and/or Thatcher nostalgia that is odd to me.

    I basically see Andrew Sullivan as a former conservative who has become a libertatian-leaning/economically free market Democrat. There is no place for him in the Republican Party and he knows it. Yet every now and then he does two things which are absolutely baffling to me and I think psychological validation that he is still a conservative. These are:

    1. Sentimental nostalgia posts for Reagan and Thatcher.

    2. Make a swipe at liberals for a point he considers condescending and elitists. These are posts that match Sarah Palin’s resentment with pride. A recent example was how he felt the need to attack Timothy Noah for critiquing management for emotional labor practices for low-wage laborers. Or how he calls Tony Kushner pretentious for writing long plays.

    I grew up in the NYC area and now live in San Francisco. I am from the professional/liberal class. My dad was a lawyer, my mom was an education administrator. My parents took me to events like Young People and the Orchestra when I was young. I like coffee places like blue bottle, local restaurants, and other typical NPR-city liberal stuff. As far as I can tell this makes me a bete noir among conservatives and a target for resentment.

    Why is the conservative movement so threatened by the existence of upper-middle class liberals who like these things? Why is someone an elitist if they went to a Seven Sister or other Liberal Arts college and is trying to be an artist of some sort while the Koch brothers are not?

    I think once the Republican Party answers these questions. They will do better in elections.Report

  3. BlaiseP says:

    As an ex-Republican, here’s the GOP’s problem in a nutshell: though it opposes many things in principle, it stands for nothing in fact. And hasn’t since the era of Eisenhower.Report

  4. James Hanley says:

    I was talking about this at another blog today. One of the persistent conservative attacks against Obama is that he’s an “Alinskyite.” Alinsky? Who the fish is Alinsky?

    Seriously, Alinsky died in 1972. He was born in 1909! He was prominent in the 1960s–I’m 47 fishing years old and even I don’t remember the ’60s! Do any of these geriatrics (and geriatrics-in-training, by all appearances) really think any voters under 35–the demographic that’s effectively handing them their asses in presidential elections–is going to be scared off by mentions of Saul Fishing Alinsky?Report

  5. DRS says:

    Think of it this way: the Republican Party today is high school where the majority of students are really insecure geeks. They’ve heard their older siblings and parents talk about this really cool kid named Reagan that they hung out with, and they’re painfully aware that there are no equivalent cool kids in their team colours right now they can hang with. They’re bitterly jealous of the current coolest kid who wears the Other Side’s team jersey. They’re convinced all the other kids are laughing at them so they get in their snide insults and put-downs first to show that they’re above it all and just don’t care. They have no plans for after high school and in fact are frantic about making it through this year’s prom. All the teachers despise them – they’re convinced of that – and so they spend a lot of time in class monitoring comments and physical actions carefully so they can report the teachers to the authorities for bias or propaganda. Then they go home at the end of the day and retreat to the basement to play War of the Worlds on their computers and devise new invasion plans that will allow them to dominate other countries.

    Only to go upstairs and find out mom made liver and onions for dinner – again.Report