In a column for the libertarian Reason, Steven Greenhut used the advice conservative William F. Buckley gave to former Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) that he should put some distance between himself and the extreme-right John Birch Society for his own good, to suggest today's GOP do the same with the latest generation of conspiracy-minded "kooks."
Using Donald Trump's re-election loss to former Vice President Joe Biden as a springboard, Greenhut said the rejection of Trump -- who launched his career in politics with his birther attack on former President Barack Obama and is now creating a conspiracy theory feeding frenzy about a "stolen election" -- makes a good time for a purge.
Noting that Goldwater's conversion away from fringe-groups ultimately garnered him the 1964 GOP presidential nomination (while conceding that he lost to incumbent Lyndon Johnson) the columnist claimed there is a lesson to be learned.
"In recent years, conspiracy-mongers and kooks have gained a similar foothold in the GOP. It's a huge problem on the Left, but as a non-leftist that's not my battle. My goal is to support a functioning right-of-center movement that has the credibility to thwart the utopian dreams of the progressive movement," he wrote. "At this time, the Right needs more self-analysis and less whataboutism."
Writing that it is "impossible to ignore that a portion of the Right has descended, quite frankly, into madness," Greenhut laid the blame for that at the feet of the outgoing Trump who has encouraged the party to embrace the fringe of the conservative movement.
"Trump will soon exit the White House unless he chains himself to his desk. But the conservative movement will need to chart a path forward—and decide whether it is primarily about airing a list of Festivus-like grievances, or whether it is tethered to important and mostly good ideas centered on promoting markets and limited government," he explained before noting, "Nothing has been as loopy as the Jericho March, where religious supporters of the president gathered in Washington, D.C., last week to hold a prayer rally to protest the election results."
With that in mind, Greenhut echoed the words of David Boaz of the Cato Institute who stated the GOP needs to "stay far from "fever swamps" if the party wants to remain relevant.
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