The alternative plan, naïvely labelled ‘limited government’ by teabillies, is actually called ‘Fascism’. I’m a proud Democratic Socialist and heartily endorse the ‘Nordic’ approach, especially as implemented by Denmark. Yes, taxes are high – and the more you make, the more you pay. But healthcare, education and a pension are guaranteed for all. No one goes without a place to stay or something to eat. In other words, it’s CIVILISED.
The Crack-Up of the GOP: No Way Out
Sun Jan 6th, 2013 at 10:53:18 AM EST
The Washington Post reports that there are divisions within the Republican Party about whether or not they can effectively use a threat to destroy the country’s credit rating and cause a global recession to extract spending cuts from the Democrats. If they did it before, why not do it again?
Meanwhile, the New York Times focuses more on the big picture divisions like immigration, women’s rights, gay marriage, and letting the NRA dictate the GOP’s policy on guns.
In both cases, it is really a divide between conservatives and Republicans. The near-total capture of the GOP by conservatives has created a situation which has now come to a head. They call it the Conservative Movement for a reason. They have places to go. The problem is, the American people do not want to go there. The conundrum presents itself in stark terms in the debate over the debt ceiling. Countless Rush Limbaugh fans and Fox News watchers have been seduced into an alternative reality where they are both the good and the aggrieved. But they don’t want to see the party destroy the country’s credit rating, millions of jobs, and the value of their nest eggs, all in the name of reducing the worth of their earned benefits and eroding their retirement security. The conservatives carried the ball so far down the field that people are in the shadow of the goalposts. And they don’t want to score.
The disastrous culmination of a 28-year campaign to make the rich richer and the middle class poorer was interpreted as the perfect time to launch a tax revolt on the behalf of people who had never paid lower taxes. At the peak moment for government spending, they launched a war on the only available economic stimulus that might save them their job, their home, and their savings. It was no surprise that the whole venture was financed by plunderous plutocrats in their desperate (and successful) attempt to cause a distraction big enough for them to evade accountability for their actions.
The conservative movement is too stupid to live, but the Republican Party is too advantaged by law to die. It would like to remake itself into a party that reflects the values of enough Americans for them to win. But conservatives would rather wallow in their own impotence and rage than change their core beliefs. The GOP will remain bitterly divided for quite some time. The splits will grow when we debate guns and when we debate immigration and when we debate climate and energy. The coalition cannot hold. The most reactionary of the bunch have the advantage of being correct about one thing. Without race-hatred and religious tribalism and gay-bashing and attacks on women’s rights, the GOP has no coalition at all. It would simply scatter to the winds. So, they will persist.
Great essay… but you ‘snipped//’ some of the best parts IMHO:
Something similar is going on with their strategy of stoking white resentment, anxiety and religious tribalism. It holds whites within the coalition who would otherwise split, but not enough of them…not anymore. Ralph Reed explains their predicament:
“The Republican Party can’t stay exactly where it is and stick its head in the sand and ignore the fact that the country is changing,” said Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and onetime leader of the Christian Coalition.
“On the other hand, if the party were to retreat on core, pro-family stands and its positions on fiscal responsibility and taxes, it could very quickly find itself without a strong demographic support base.”
Their aggrieved white base may not be big enough anymore, but without it the Republicans collapse into oblivion. And, yet, what better way to dissolve their aggrieved white base than to make a deal on immigration or to vote to raise taxes or to agree to gun restrictions or to soften their stance on gay marriage or reproductive choice? Compromising on those issues will feel like a cynical betrayal to Fox Nation.
The truth is that the conservatives like feeling aggrieved more than they like exercising authority. They are happiest in the minority and least happy having to govern (especially if they have to make compromises from a position of weakness). Republicans, on the other hand, exist to win and hold power. Newt Gingrich understands this distinction. He was the one who realized how the conservatives could seize control of the party and win back the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. He was the one who came up with a strategy that could break the conservatives out of their lethargy and acceptance of permanent minority status. Gingrich was a hybrid, and it’s no surprise that he is telling the House Republicans to change strategies and stop threatening people over the debt ceiling.
On the other hand, Speaker Gingrich quickly discovered that movement conservatives were more interested in blowing up the government than in governing it slightly differently. After two government shutdowns, two bad election cycles, and the reelection and subsequent impeachment of Bill Clinton, Gingrich was gone. What was left behind was a party that looks nihilistic from one angle and overzealous from another. It was a party built for graft that simultaneously railed against pork barrel spending. It was a coalition that had to sustain itself through an ever-increasing series of delusions and denials and lies. More and more dependent on the white angst and resentment of social conservatives, the party began to denounce evolution and plate tectonics and climate science. It invented a War on Christmas and a threat of creeping Shariah Law. It lost any trust or investment or even connection to academia. It retreated into a cult for home-schoolers.
And when it all blew up in their faces…when Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqis met us with IED’s instead of flowers and chocolates…when starving the government of revenues didn’t create economic growth…when the Republican congress proved more corrupt than their predecessors…when lack of Wall Street oversight led directly to economic collapse…when the country reached it’s lowest level of effective taxation since the Truman administration…that’s when they launched the Taxed (T) Enough (E) Already (A) Party. Has anything more stupid ever happened? …
I find the Far/Religious Right’s insistence on ‘Home Schooling’ especially egregious. It’s not bad enough for a couple to be ignorant and divorced from reality and ‘disbelieving’ in science… they want to inflict their stupidity on their CHILDREN as well? Perpetuating white Christian ignorance, prejudice and hatred down the generations strikes me as nothing less than criminal. Whatever happened to truancy laws? So-called ‘Home Schooling’ should not be legal except in very special cases.
Yes, there WILL be a battle over the debt ceiling, but it will be largely between the Right and the Far Right factions of the Gilas-On-Parade. If the Dems stand with Obama and refuse to play their game, we’ll all be treated to the spectacle of the Republican caucus in the House fighting over which way best to self-immolate. Should be entertaining!
re: “I find the Far/Religious Right’s insistence on ‘Home Schooling’ especially egregious.” Since the only thing that truly sets the human animal apart from other animals is its linguistic symbolism that allows for creating a resource of knowledge, denying children full access to that human resource makes them less human – if that isn’t child abuse I am not sure what would be.
(and yes I know those same people think it’s a soul -which they can’t really define, cannot locate, and cannot demonstrate a clear existence of – that sets us apart, but what could be more representative of a human soul than our accumulated knowledge)
Cat-eyes: And perhaps worse than mere physical abuse, because you stunt that child forever (lacking a heroic remedial effort). It reminds me of those twisted parents who isolate children in a closet… never allowing those children to even learn language. After the ‘window’ of learning closes around puberty, no remediation is even POSSIBLE… that kid is lost forever and will never be fully ‘human’. Such cruelty is unfathomable to me.
Our ‘soul’ is our self-awareness… our ‘sentience’ if you will. And I don’t limit it strictly to human beings. There is a sliding scale of awareness, though our human linguistic ‘trick’ gives us a sentience ‘supercharger’ that gives a vast advantage (and responsibility).
My feeling is that parents typically confuse self-imposed limitations in world view with more noble-sounding concepts like “principles” or “virtue.” Nowhere is this more evident than with religion, and it’s certainly not limited to the far right. Pretty much a universal human tendency.
Max: Maybe, but I’ve never heard of a Lefty couple (or Jewish or Asian for that matter) insisting on ‘home-schooling’ a child. It is not permitted in Europe. Why? Because precious few parents are qualified to be teachers. And if they were, they would never want to do such a thing!
I think this abberation IS limited to Christian fundamentalist ultra-conservatives!
Sky – I think the soul must be different than self-awareness, more if you will, it includes self-awareness but also others-awareness because without that it’s hard to possess any humility or humbleness, another property I think that a soul must encompass. My belief anyway.
To be a little picky, ‘others awareness’ isn’t quite enough to qualify as empathy. A con-man has a great sense of others and particularly of their limitations. Empathy is the ability and willingness to temporarily shift one’s perspective to approximate that of another, to ‘walk in their shoes’ so to speak. A narcissist isn’t necessarily incapable of ‘others awareness’ or unaware that others have a unique perspective, they just don’t think any perspective but their own matters. I think it’s the unwillingness to do the walk in another’s shoes that undercuts empathy and, consequently, compassion.
Okay to clarify – my others-awareness means that even though one can never truly see from another’s POV, one can and does appreciate the validity of others’ POVs to the extent that compassion plays a role and that limits that person’s self-indulgence; a sort of respect for the commons as opposed to the tragedy of the commons. So yes, there are certainly soulless humans by that measure.
Wouldn’t the opposite be the comedy of the commons?
Tragedy of the commons is a great concept that I first encountered in Jared Diamond’s Collapse. BTW, I just spotted Diamond’s latest on a bookshelf at LAX. Can’t remember the title, but one of the blurb writers somewhat hyperbolically compared the three books to Darwin’s great trilogy in it’s eventual importance from a historic perspective. Coincidentally, I can’t remember the title of Darwin’s third book either. A little googling might have saved me all this embarrassment.
Max and Cat-eyes are leaving me in the ethical dust here I’m afraid. I had to look up and am still absorbing the ‘tragedy of the commons’ although it seems to be common knowledge among environmentalists. What I can glean is a certain inevitability of disaster when a resource is shared among many with increasing needs… (well, DUH)… doesn’t speak very well of ‘share and share alike’ (without a method of replenishing said resource).
Diamond’s ‘Guns, Germs and Steel’ I am more familiar with… a (not terribly pretty) explication for the rise and dominance of Western European culture and ideas.
Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ I have read.
These all strike me as economic theories at root. And Zero-Sum ‘winner take all’ ideas at that. In this light, ‘empathy’ incurs a real COST to the ‘empathiser’.
It occurs that the ‘tragedy of the commons’ might also apply to Capitalism… to its unending need to expand and consume resources. ‘Growth’ is how we measure the success or failure of a Capitalist economy. ‘Stable’ is synonymous with ‘stagnant’. Valid analogy?
I read the original paper ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ by Garrett Hardin. It reminds me of a moral take on Malthus.
Clearly, they’re not making any more real estate (less in fact as sea level rises), so that variable is fixed. But something’s got to give, right? With world population now at 7 billion people, it seems pretty obvious WHICH variable must come down… maybe we’ll have a nice war or a pandemic or something to relieve us of hard ethical choices!
The tragedy of the commons is often applied more widely – Garrett Hardin’s original essay seen more as a parable than a specific. For example, California’s second hand smoke laws are linked to the idea that air is in the domain of the commons. As we’ve clearly demonstrated how we are on spaceship Earth the idea now often includes the entire planet and maintaining a homeostasis that involves sharing alike with all the living organisms traveling on said spaceship. The original essay really is meant to illustrate how the mentality of thinking on different scales is dangerous. Remember your parents admonishing you with the phrase, “what if everyone did that?”
Hilarious. Three big assumptions sunk this analysis. One, that the matchups that early were applicable to the situation on election day. Two, that “all the undecideds go against the incumbent.” And three, that these cherry-picked individual polls were anywhere near accurate. Sorry Dick.