Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cracking up

Craig Shirley, a right-wing activist and lobbyist, has an op-ed in today's WaPo arguing that the GOP is breaking down. He sees the immigration debate as splitting the "business elite" with the Reaganite Populists.
The two camps are deeply divided. The business elites are interested in a large supply of cheap labor and support unfettered immigration and open borders. The populist base supports legal immigration but is concerned about lawlessness on our border, national sovereignty and the real security threat posed by porous borders.
It would be nice to think that Republicans are finally feeling the frailty of a glued-together political coalition like Democrats have for so long with labor, environmentalists, minorities, etc. However, I think Shirley's argument is a bit self-serving, considering he is squarely in the corner of the culturally conservative, populist Republican wing.
It was the populists under Reagan, and later under Newt Gingrich, who energized the party, gave voice to a maturing conservative ideology and swept Republicans into power. We would be imprudent and forgetful to disregard this. But it may be too late, because conservatives don't want to be part of the looming train wreck. They know that this is no longer Ronald Reagan's party.
Though Shirley is obviously arguing for the supremacy of his own version of conservatism rather than doing truly objective analysis, he has a fairly cogent thesis. Case in point: Frist and Hastert call on Bush to probe oil company profits to make sure there is no price gouging. When the Republican Congress, who have constituents/voters to please, is taking on a lame-duck President who will never again face the voters over a populist issue like gasoline prices, you can bet that there is a divergence of ideology and reality within Republican circles.

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