Today the problem for American conservatives (Republicans) is that they seem to be caught in a perverse phase of politics that usually follows a prospective long spell in opposition or a strong leadership (in the Republican’s case Reagan).
During such periods political parties become confused and immerse in fratricide fights between candidates that should never, ever have been considered for leadership. Such second-rate figures of the time, usually called loony leftists or right-wing nuts, take center stage while moderate common sense politicians are simply dismissed as wobbly or wet.
Such periods affect both right and left-wing parties. Recent episodes in the UK were experienced by the Labor Party during the 1980s and by the Conservatives at the beginning of this century. During such periods the parties turn to three types of politicians – nice idealists but foolish, symbolized in the UK by Michael Foot; radical but treacherous, as epitomized by Arthur Scargill; or maverick and devious as represented by Ken Livingstone.
Nowadays one easily finds comparable figures among the American Republicans. Sara Palin falls in the first category, while Newt Gingrich fits the second and Donald Trump represents the third category.
The question is: how can parties regain their sanity and get rid of such potential candidates? Since during such periods prevails a denial of reason, often one has to let time pass by until people regain their senses. Unfortunately, this remedy usually means waiting many years until a new generation of politicians arrives (as the UK Conservatives know too well).
Is this wait inevitable? Not necessarily, if well meaning party members join their efforts to combat this disease and to promote the emergence of a serious competition among a new generation of leaders. Men and Women embedded with the party’s ideals, not sound bites exploiting the ignorance, greed and hurry of the masses. That is why the renaissance of the enlightenment spirit is so important.