How the GOP became the party of willful ignorance

If it weren’t for the fringes of the Republican Party, they would be almost likable. But because of these vocal (and “vocal” is an understatement) minorities, it seems that they won’t be able to form any semblance of unity or moderation any time soon.
The GOP is in chaos right now-possibly the most disarray the party has ever seen. Extremist loudmouths like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump dominate national discourse, while moderate, experienced candidates are overlooked. It’s come to the point where people are calling Senator Rubio the “moderate” pick. This is absurd, and speaks to the larger problem that Republicans will encounter. As much as Mr. Rubio tries to bill himself as a moderate choice, a quick glance at his voting record, public statements, and fundraising disclosures quickly disabuses one of that notion.
I would love to vote for a moderate Republican in my first ever national election, because I believe in a smaller, more libertarian government in general. I’d be happy to cut spending, lower taxes, adopt a more aggressive foreign policy, and foster better business environments in our country. But because of the outlandish circus that the Republicans have offered up as primary selections, it seems that any hope for unity is out of the question.
There’s Ted Cruz, who, apart from being the most self-sanctified, uncompassionate candidate out there, also holds policy positions that are closer to a fundamentalist Christian theocracy than the democracy he professes to love so dearly. Just because I’d prefer to cut a significant amount of government spending doesn’t mean I want to repeal Roe v. Wade, roll the gay rights movement decades backwards, and “carpet bomb [ISIS] until the sand glows.” These aren’t policy positions; they’re the ramblings of a man whipped in a frenzy of his own self-righteous, misguided, religious Cruzade-aided by the (vocal) minority Evangelical, religious-right Republican wing.
Unfortunately, extremist picks like Mr. Cruz are more the norm than the exception now. Marco Rubio might be the pick that the establishment seems to be rallying behind (although the far more reasonable John Kasich may have complicated things in New Hampshire last week). The problem is that Mr. Rubio is not, by any stretch of the imagination, moderate. Mr. Rubio would ban abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. He would immediately repeal any executive action taken on behalf of the EPA, and while he hasn’t flat-out denied human involvement in climate change, he does not support any actions that would “hurt American jobs,” even at the expense of the environment. Even Regan cared about the environment!
These candidates and the groups that they represent have shifted the party from temperance to willful ignorance. Front-runners like Trump and Cruz engage in pissing matches to determine who would “bring back” the most torture. Never mind that torture has been proven ineffective time and time again, including by a CIA report just last year. Not a single Republican candidate accepts that climate change is largely man-made and that serious action needs to be taken in order to address it. Never mind that 98% of scientists have made statements to the contrary. Candidates holler about building an 8-billion dollar border wall near Mexico—never mind that there has been no net increase of illegal immigrants in America since 2012 and that 40% of illegal immigrants don’t sneak over the border, but simply overstay their legal visas. They scream that they will get rid of abortion, ignoring the fact that Roe v. Wade is binding constitutional precedent and, barring a constitutional amendment, is here to stay. And everyone wants to bomb the hell out of ISIS, regardless of the fact that ISIS strongholds shift, comprise a vast amount of territory, and are rife with civilians, making such a proposal both morally and logistically bankrupt.
These are not the policy stances of conservatives. These are the stances of willfully misinformed extremists who happen to also believe in fiscal conservatism. These are the stances of obnoxious talking heads who will say anything inflammatory, in order to fire up their misinformed electorates. These Republican minority fractions—Evangelicals, the Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party, and plenty others—all have one common denominator: stupidity. And these groups have dragged the GOP down to this new intellectual low. I guess we’re lucky that the candidates are even coherent at this point.

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