Paul Begala: Dick Lugar's Fate Shows When Right Is Wrong
May 14, 2012 1:00 AM EDT
The GOP puts party before country every time.
As the poet predicted, the center cannot hold. But it’s not because both the right and left are tearing at it equally. In an age in which journalism and punditry are terrorized by the demands of false equivalency, it is time to speak a simple truth: conservatives are to blame.
It was not liberals who ended the career of Richard Lugar. The longest-serving Republican in the Senate was unceremoniously dumped last week by the Tea Party fringe. He was not, as the saying goes, caught with a dead girl or a live boy. He was just too doggone moderate, too ready to compromise with the Democrats. Thanks for that, Senator Lugar. Oh, and you’re fired.
Today’s Republicans are different. They truly have put partisanship ahead of patriotism, as the political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann document in their book, Even Worse Than it Looks. “The GOP,” they write, “has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
How do we get our balance back? Don’t blame the politicians. Blame ourselves. As long as we continue to vote for politicians who see no legitimacy in common goals, who demonize every public enterprise—from public schools to Social Security—we should not be shocked that one political party sees compromise as evil. Without the oil of compromise, the gears of progress will continue to lock.