Have conservatives always been this crazy?

Senator is in the process of ebookification, so expect some political blogging, alas.

Senator is about a conservative Republican senator from Massachusetts in the middle of a difficult reelection campaign.  Things don’t get any simpler for him when he discovers the body of his mistress, who has been brutally murdered in her Back Bay apartment.  Many interesting complications ensue! And I look forward to recalling what they are when I reread the novel to discover what interesting typos the scanning process introduced into the text.

One of my goals in writing the novel was to make the senator (Jim O’Connor) as sympathetic as possible (so it’s written in the first person, for example).  Who wants to read a novel whose protagonist is a creep?  One of the challenges of meeting that goal is that, as a knee-jerk liberal, I needed to find a way to sympathize with a conservative.  I have to say that I found that easier in the early 90s, when I wrote the novel, than I would find it today.  Because to be a Republican in 2012 is to sign on to the crazy.

I’ll just assert the craziness here; listing the many examples would be too depressing.  But a question of some interest is: what happened to the Republican party?  Is the craziness a recent phenomenon?  Or was it always there?  Rick Perlstein, the author of the infinitely depressing Nixonlandargues that it has always been there.  The standard response to this (which you can see in the comments to his article) is: hey, some liberals believe crazy things too!  Well, sure.  But the crazy liberals are not running the Democratic party.  George Romney could stand up to the crazies in the 60s; Mitt Romney saw what happened to his father, and apparently decided that the only way to become president was to embrace the craziness.

I don’t have sufficient imaginative powers to sympathize with someone like that.

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5 thoughts on “Have conservatives always been this crazy?

  1. I think they’ve gotten a lot crazier in the last couple of decades. In my own mind, I tend to date it back to Congressman Newt Gingrich and his Contract on America. And on the rise of the hyperconservative religious right, which drew millions of followers in its riptide. (An interesting read on this subject is Crazy for God, by Frank Schaeffer, who helped create the Religious Right, and later left it in disillusionment. http://www.frankschaeffer.com/crazyforgod.html)

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  2. Definitely, they’ve gotten crazier since Newt and such. Think of Republicans from long ago (when — cough! — some of us were much younger) — John Lindsay, Nelson Rockefeller, Edward Brooke. Hell: Ike! I remember my mother telling us she had voted for Eisenhower because of all our little cousins back home (Texas), the idea being that Ike was not, at least, a Dixiecrat and was believed to be (possibly) willing to stand up for integration (maybe).

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  3. Describing your political opponents as crazy is a convenient way of avoiding dealing with the issues. But let me ask you this. Which Republican presidents in the past half-century were crazy? Eisenhower? Reagan? George H.W.? And, apart from the fact that you despise him, George W.? (I pass over Nixon. He certainly had issues.).

    As to the current crop of candidates, I will readily concede that it is weak. But crazy? What, for example, is Santorum’s worst offense? Apparently that he is a Catholic and actually believes in Church doctrine relating to abortion and birth control. So does the Pope. So does Cardinal Dolan. Are they all crazy? You used to be a Catholic too. Now that you are a Unitarian can you really dismiss all of this as insanity? I can tell you that some of my more extreme atheist friends dismiss all of organized religion as more or less insane.

    As to Romney, he is not my cup of tea. You knee-jerk liberals elected him governor of Massachusetts so you doubtless know more about him than I do.

    As to Gingrich let me say that — . Nah, he’s just nuts.

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