The first was written by David Klinghoffer, long affiliated with the National Review, and published by the Los Angeles Times. His piece is a philosophical look at his party and it is very clear that the changes he notes have provided him with more than a little spiritual angst:
...more characteristic of conservative leadership are figures on TV, radio and the Internet who make their money by stirring fears and resentments. With its descent to baiting blacks, Mexicans and Muslims, its accommodation of conspiracy theories and an increasing nastiness and vulgarity, the conservative movement has undergone a shift toward demagoguery and hucksterism. Once the talk was of "neocons" versus "paleocons." Now we observe the rule of the crazy-cons. ...
When I became a conservative, that is what I signed up for: a profound vision granting transcendent significance to public life and hope in private life. The goal wasn't to defeat Democratic officeholders or humiliate left-wing activists. It was, and still is, with those who remember, to save civilization.
The second is by David Stockman, who was a director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, and was published by the New York Times. Mr. Stockman takes a more concrete look at the behavior of the GOP over the past few decades, particularly the last one, with respect to the issue of fiscal responsibility:
IF there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product, and fairly screams out for austerity and sacrifice. It is therefore unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.
More fundamentally, Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.
This approach has not simply made a mockery of traditional party ideals. It has also led to the serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy. ...
Both men make no excuses for their party. Their condemnation is harsh and unequivocal. Both men hearken back to the most fundamental principles of the Republican Party and find the current version sadly lacking in even the most basic understanding of those principles. Even if one disputes the underlying assumptions of the two opinion pieces, those pieces are accurate in their critiques and written elegantly. Both are well worth reading.
Here, however, is what puzzles me. Neither man said anything that many of us haven't been saying for years, yet in an election year in which Democrats are, according to the mainstream media, in grave danger of losing control of the Senate and of losing ground in the House, no Democrats are pointing out the madness of the Republican Party. None that I have heard or read are putting out the message that Republican policies are what have gotten us into the deep problems we face, from the illegal, foolish, and very expensive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, through the disastrous consequences of the economic policies which allowed Wall Street and their banking friends to carpet-bomb the economy, to the obstructionism which prevents any meaningful legislation to ameliorate the damage done.
Is it because it doesn't matter? Are the differences between the two parties so shallow and trivial that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter? Are the oligarchs the real center of power and our elected officials from the White House to Congress to state capitals merely puppets whose strings are manipulated by those oligarchs?
If that is so, and I fear it is, then our democracy isn't doomed. It already no longer exists.