Malaise of the GOP — Is There a Cure?

by Patrick J. Buchanan – February 2, 1999

Not since the Roaring Twenties, when the Republican Party was still “America’s Party,” has the GOP controlled so many seats in the House and Senate and in governors’ chairs.

Yet, to many Republicans, this seems the very winter of their discontent. Inside the party, observers detect a near despair, which is reinforced by the polls, that the GOP has run out of great issues and indefinitely forfeited the vital center of politics to Bill Clinton.

There is a malaise within the GOP. Among governors, it is seen in exasperation with a Congress focused on impeachment; among GOP senators, it is manifest in a desperate desire to be rid of the trial. House Republicans are openly nostalgic for the days of Reagan, when America was united behind their agenda, and it was the Democratic Party that seemed off-balance and out of touch.

It is time to grow up. Ronald Reagan was a good man and a great president, but the Gipper is gone forever, and his time, like JFK’s time, and FDR’s, is gone forever. We cannot relive the past.

The unacknowledged reason the GOP Establishment has failed to meet the challenge of Clinton is that, deep in its heart, it does not disagree with him on the issues that deeply roil Middle America.

On trade, the GOP leadership is as pro-NAFTA, GATT and fast track as Al Gore. At last week’s gathering of globalists at Davos, Switzerland, Republicans had a full complement. “Responsible Globality” was the theme at Davos, which is like posting a sign calling for “Safe Sex” on the door of a San Francisco bath house.

On foreign policy, the GOP leadership is as enthusiastic as Clinton about expanding NATO from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Republicans provided the political cover for Clinton to move troops into Bosnia and Macedonia and are urging him to order air strikes on Serbia and put 5,000 U.S. troops into Kosovo.

Most Americans oppose military intervention where vital U.S. interests are not at stake. But the GOP leadership cadres stand with Clinton. On foreign aid, the least popular of federal programs, Congress readily agreed to Clinton’s request for expansion in 1998.

Republicans believe in free markets, so they opposed a bailout of Orange County when it faced bankruptcy from failed investments. Yet Republican leaders backed the $41 billion bailout of a Jakarta regime that had robbed its own of billions and slaughtered 250,000 in East Timor, and supported the $41 billion bailout of a Brazilian government that is still running a deficit of 8 percent of gross domestic product.

On both occasions, the GOP threw out free-market principles to stand beside Clinton and did so again when Clinton asked for $18 billion to continue the socialist bailouts ad infinitum.

On NAFTA, GATT, fast track, surrender of sovereignty to the World Trade Organization, NATO expansion, intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, foreign aid and International Monetary Fund bailouts, the Republican elite is, with a few exceptions, remarkably close to Clinton-Gore.

Eighty percent of Americans want reform of immigration laws under which 1.3 million legal and illegal aliens enter each year. Yet, terrified of being called xenophobes, Republicans are paralyzed. So, Clinton celebrates a coming century where immigration will turn America’s white majority into a minority.

In Tibet, massive immigration by Han Chinese is denounced as “cultural genocide.” In the United States, an immigration invasion that will alter the ethnic character and Western culture of America forever, risking a breakup of the nation, is not even open for debate.

Racial preferences are defeated everywhere they are put to a vote. Yet national Republicans recoil from the battle. The life issue and the right of citizens to keep and bear arms to protect their lives and families have powerful constituencies, but many in the GOP — trained in the local obedience school run by the national press — reflexively reject such issues as “divisive.”

There is no dearth of issues on which a party with a glint in its eye, fire in its belly and steel in its spine could confront this capital city. But taking them up means taking on a cultural-media elite that has no compunction about branding as sick, bigoted or extremist any who dare resist the fate that elite has in store for our republic.

There is another factor inhibiting Republicans from risking an all-out confrontation with Clinton: dread of the loss of power.

The GOP knows its hold on Congress is tenuous and narrow. Why risk it for causes in which they do not truly believe?

Thus, the next great rebellion in U.S. politics is likely to come from without and not to distinguish between the Beltway parties.