During the Clinton administration, Republicans had a core set of beliefs–reduce the size, power and influence of the federal government, reduce government spending, and have a limited foreign policy that doesn’t include “nation building” (in fact, they railed against the idea that America should be the “policeman of the world“). Distrust of the federal government and government officials ran high among the GOP.
Then came George W. Bush and, suddenly, everything changed. Republicans cheered when Bush grew the federal government to the largest it’s been in 40 years. They applauded the government’s widespread surveillance powers, including the power to spy on American citizens. They turned a blind eye when Bush turned a record surplus into a record deficit and grew that deficit year after after year. And Republicans celebrated when the Bush administration launched an unnecessary war in a foreign country for no other purpose than nation-building.
Progressives were appalled. How could a group of people be so intellectually bankrupt that they could change their entire ideology 180 degrees in just a few years?
Well, as the probability of an Obama presidency grows, prepared to be appalled again. Because as soon as Barack Obama takes the oath of office, expect Republicans to change their ideology 180 degrees–again–to the philosophy they held during the Clinton years.
Why? Well, the simplest explanation is that Republican leadership is intellectually bankrupt. They have one core belief–obtaining and keeping power.
So when conservatives control the federal government they applaud every expansion of governmental power, hoping that they can use that power to stay in office. And when Democrats control the federal government, conservatives attack every single use of government power, hoping to hamstring the Democrats and keep them from making any progress or improving people’s lives.
In the past few years, Republicans have become soulless ideological chameleons, taking up whichever stances will get them the most power in the long run. When they lose this election and President Obama is inaugurated, expect the chameleon party to change their color once again, this time back to the anti-government positions they held the last time a Democrat was in the White House. And let’s not be afraid to call them exactly what they are–shameless hypocrites willing to change their ideology to whatever suits them best politically. What America needs are leaders with ideas, not political hacks who change their positions depending on how the wind blows.