Extreme Tea Party conservatives have seized the GOP so completely that traditional Republicans no longer feel welcome in it.
On Fox News Sunday, former Senate leader and presidential nominee Robert Dole said neither he nor Ronald Reagan could "make it" in today's GOP. He said the Republican National Committee should put up a "Closed for Repairs" sign and pursue better "ideas and positive agendas."
Dole obviously was referring to the negativity of far-right Republicans in Congress, who stymie nearly every helpful step for America. <I>The New York Times<P> called it "a furiously oppositional Republican Party." It said the "current crop of Tea Party lawmakers" is "damaging the country's future" because they don't "recognize that a two-party system requires compromise."
"The mulish behavior of Congressional Republicans has led to the creation of the sequester, blocked action on economic growth and climate change, prevented reasonable checks on gun purchases and threatens to blow up a hard-fought compromise on immigration," the national newspaper said.
It added that "Mr. Dole's heirs in the responsible wing of the party" are sickened by the trend. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Tea Party-backed members of Congress are "absolutely out of line" in trying to prevent a conference committee from resolving differences between House and Senate versions of the U.S. budget. "We're here to vote, not to block things," McCain said.
The Arizona senator previously called extreme-right Republicans "wacko birds."
Meanwhile, former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who switched to independent to become Rhode Island's governor in 2010, reportedly will become a Democrat because he no longer feels kinship to his old party.
A generation ago, the fundamentalist "religious right" dominated the GOP and sought to impose Puritanical taboos on America -- but that intolerant tide annoyed mainstream Americans. Now the white evangelical fringe has morphed into the Tea Party, which includes the gun cult and all sorts of government-haters.
Americans don't like the Tea Party either. A 2013 Rasmussen poll found that only 8 percent of voters now identify with it, and that half of Americans view the movement unfavorably.
But this fringe still wields great power with Washington Republicans. No wonder Dole, Chafee and other old-style conservatives are disgusted.