Republican transformists

From the diaries by Erick

I think the term “Vichy” is appropriate to describe ersatz Republicans like Colin Powell and Tom Ridge (thanks Eric).   They also remind me of some of the leading lights in the Italian Christian Democracy (DCI) party that dominated every Italian government from 1948 until its eventual demise during the mani puliti (clean hands) investigations of 1992.  Although starting in 1948 from a position of great political strength under the charismatic Alcide DeGaspari, the DCI steadily declined in influence and power throughout the subsequent decades.  This decline was due in great part to the practice of trasformismo (transformism), which the noted Italianist Norman Kogan defines as the “sacrifice of political convictions in the scramble for power, possessions, and honors.”  I think Kogan could have been writing about certain prominent members of today’s Republican party when he observed in 1962 that

“The avoidance of qualification [as left or right wing] may have the utility of escaping ideological identification; it has the disutitlity of providing an escape from making hard decisions.  No decision is a decision itself, of course; a decision in favor of the status quo.  This is tactically the easiest thing to do, but when the status quo involves perpetuating a ‘fractured’ society, such a choice has obvious long-run dangers.  Whether pleasing or not choices must be made, for change is inevitable.  The choices will have to cumulate to indicate some kind of political direction, and it is usually sensible to identify, at least vaguely, the direction.”