TN Commentary on GOP’s Lean to the Extreme

The apparent suicide of a mentally-troubled Florida man distraught over the re-election of President Obama is cited by Lenard Pitts in a column critical of right-wing commentators.
Sometimes, they act — the Hannitys, the O’Reillys, the Trumps, the Limbaughs, the whole conservative political infotainment complex — as if this were all a game, as if their nonstop litany of half truths, untruths and fear mongering, their echo chamber of studied outrage, practiced panic, intellectual incoherence and unadulterated equine feculence, had no human consequences. Sometimes, they behave as if it were morally permissible — indeed, morally required — to say whatever asinine, indefensible, coarse or outrageous thing comes to mind in the name of defeating or diminishing the dreaded left. And never mind that vulnerable people might hear this and shape their beliefs accordingly.
Did the conservative political infotainment complex kill Henry Hamilton? No.
But were they the water in which he swam, a Greek chorus echoing and magnifying the outsized panic that troubled his unwell mind? It seems quite likely.
One hopes, without any real expectation, that Hamilton’s death will give pause to the flame throwers on the right. One hopes, without any real expectation, that somebody will feel a twinge of conscience. Or shame.
But that will not happen.

Frank Cagle, who is pretty darn conservative in many matters, says in a column that elections show the Republican party needs to distance itself from the “crackpot caucus.”
The Republican brand has come to be associated with bigotry and hate speech. It is the tone and the rhetoric that turns off people who might otherwise agree more with conservative principles than liberal ones.
In the 1950s, the John Birch Society began to make inroads into the Republican Party. Their extremist views and paranoia about government plots threatened to marginalize the party. William F. Buckley, editor of The National Review, and other conservative opinion leaders worked to throw these people out of the party.
What can Republican leaders today do to change the perception of minority groups and demographic changes?
They can start by condemning people who claim, all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is not an American citizen. They can call out conservative talk-radio hosts for hateful tirades and name-calling. They can condemn Limbaugh when he does things like refer to a young woman testifying before Congress as a slut.
They can also call out a handful of state legislators who make national news with stupid bills.
It’s time to start taking responsibility. Call down and excise the Crackpot Caucus.

And this from Robert Houk up in Northeast Tennessee:
Party leaders who have studied the polling data say it is obvious the Southern strategy alone is no longer a winning formula for the GOP. To succeed, the Republican party must go beyond its traditional base (white male voters) and cast a wider net.
“We need to do some soul-searching as a party,” Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe told me last week.
Wolfe, who serves on the executive committee of the Tennessee Republican party, said Republicans must “expand our coalition” by reaching out to Hispanics and other minorities. Failure to do so, he fears, could marginalize his party for years to come.
To avoid that, Wolfe said he would like to see GOP leaders implement an electoral Manhattan Project of sorts to diversify and grow the GOP’s base. “When you stop making friends, that’s when you start losing elections,” he said.

On the other hand, conservative crusader Sen. Stacey Campfield, linking to the Cagle commentary above, criticizes such thinking in a blog post.
I always laugh after an election when you hear moderates call out the base of the party. “Throw out the Pauliacks!, The Rush listeners!, The pro lifers!, The church crowd!,The pro family supporters!” Yes, because they were the real problem. Those were the ones that crossed over to vote for the other side. That was all the news leading up to election day. Not a moderate crossing part lines to sing the presidents praises as the hurricane hit his state.
Do you know who and what is left if we take out all the social issues? At best, the money and foreign policy issues. The John McCain gang of 8 types. The ones who no one really sees much of a difference between the liberal party with.
The irony is, it is the social moderates that let us down again and again, even on the money issues. It is they who cross lines to increase taxes, increase spending, Not the social conservatives. In fact I will throw down a challenge. Name the last social conservative that was the swing vote on a big tax increase?
…The tail always wants to wag the dog and silence the bark and muzzle the bight. The problem is when the thieves are at the door, all you have left to defend our country with is a soft little lap dog that no one cares much about.
I will take the pit bull.

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