'There's No Republican Party Anymore. It's Chaos'

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The GOP primary contestants are driving moderate Republicans insane, the author writes. Evan Semon/Reuters

This article first appeared on RobertReich.org.

The other night, I phoned a former Republican member of Congress with whom I'd worked in the 1990s on various pieces of legislation. I consider him a friend.

I wanted his take on the Republican candidates because I felt I needed a reality check. Was I becoming excessively crotchety and partisan, or are these people really as weird as they seem? We got right into it.

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Me: "So what do really you think of these candidates?"

Him: "You want my unvarnished opinion?"

Me: "Please. That's why I called."

Him: "They're all nuts."

Me: "Seriously. What do you really think of them?"

Him: "I just told you. They're bonkers. Bizarre. They're like a Star Wars bar room."

Me: "How did it happen? How did your party manage to come up with this collection?"

Him: "We didn't. They came up with themselves. There's no party anymore. It's chaos. Anybody can just decide they want to be the Republican nominee and make a run for it. Carson? Trump? They're in the lead, and they're both out of their fucking minds."

Me: "That's not reassuring."

Him: "It's a disaster. I'm telling you, if either of them is elected, this country is going to hell. The rest of them aren't much better. I mean, Carly Fiorina? Really? Rubio? Please. Ted Cruz? Oh my God. And the people we thought had it sewn up, who are halfway sane—Bush and Christie—they're sounding almost as batty as the rest."

Me: "Who's to blame for this mess?"

Him: "Roger Ailes, David and Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh. I could go on. They've poisoned the American mind and destroyed the Republican Party.

Me: "Nice talking with you."

Him: "Sleep well."

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Robert B. Reich, chancellor's professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, was secretary of labor in the Clinton administration. Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective Cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 13 books, including the best-sellers Aftershock and The Work of Nations. His latest, Beyond Outrage, is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His film, Inequality for All, is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD and on demand.