Matthews: Republicans have leaned too far right

Matthews: Republicans have leaned too far right
Matthews: Republicans have leaned too far right

Let me finish tonight with this.

That last segment we just did had some powerful news. All this talk about the two parties being so wide apart, and now we learn that it’s the Republicans who are the cause of the distancing. It’s the right that’s moving farther right. The Democratic side is where it’s been.

A quarter century ago, 62 percent of Republicans believed government should look out for people who couldn’t take care of themselves. Today the figure is 40 percent.

That’s right, today only 40 percent of Republicans — just two in five — think the government should take care of people who can’t take care of themselves. What should we do? Leave accident victims lying out there on 95? Do we shove the people out of the ER and out on the street? Do we dump people born with handicaps into dumpsters? What do these people mean when they say we shouldn’t “take care” of the helpless?

What happened to Lincoln’s belief that “government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves”?

Here’s another one. Only 47 percent of the Republicans now say they believe in stricter laws to protect the environment. Is this the party of Teddy Roosevelt? Are these the legatees of the president who was one of the original conservationists? Twenty years ago, that number was 86 percent.

Overall, the Republican Party, once the party of right-leaning centrists, is now 68 percent conservative. Only 26 percent call themselves moderate. The Democrats, in contrast, have a balanced membership of 38 percent moderate, 38 percent liberal.   

So while the Democrats remain much as they were a quarter century ago, the Republicans have lurched so far right that Abe Lincoln or environmentalists wouldn’t recognize them.