The Republican party has been in a steady decline since 2008 like a junkie deeply in denial; flailing about looking for ways to keep the high going. The primary campaign is the embarrassing theatrical manifestation of the downward spiral of a party long out of touch but unable and unwilling to accept that the ways of the past are no longer going to work.
Not that they ever did. People once believed that Reaganomics sounded feasible and there are aspects that are still relevant. For example there is nothing wrong with the concept of smaller, leaner government as opposed to a bloated, lethargic, wasteful bureaucratic pile of red tape. But the trickle down theory has all but been disproved. Yet like Milton Friedman; ever the optimist, many conservatives believe that if you just keep trying the same old tax cuts for the rich strategy, it will eventually yield bountiful results.
And it does yield a bountiful harvest, just not for everyone. Conservatives have been crying that there is a redistribution of wealth going on in the economy. They’ve branded it ‘class warfare’. The implication of this accusation is that the unwashed, undeserving poor are beating at the gates of the ‘job creators’ who richly deserve every penny they’ve
inherited earned. There has, indeed, been a redistribution of wealth happening but it has been from the bottom up to the top 1%.
Conservatives also believe that environmental and financial regulations are designed and being wielded solely for the purpose of robbing them of the opportunity to generate wealth. Even though there is demonstrable proof that our environment is cleaner and regulation of markets usually ferrets out those who will abuse market rules as a result.
Something curious is happening as a result of Reagan’s thirty year old experiment: the American public has begun to realize that it’s been a big lie all along. And boy are they pissed.
How have the Republicans dealt with it?
First they did nothing. In fact, they went out of their way to make sure nothing was done at all hoping to paint the administration that the American people had overwhelmingly voted into office as ineffective.
Then, a faction of conservative voters split off and formed an angry group. They likened themselves to the original patriots who resisted British imperialism and staged a raid in Boston Harbour to protest taxation without representation. Today’s Tea Party is a group of disgruntled mostly older white people who are clinging to some archaic (and nostalgically inaccurate) version of the good ol’ days. Their efforts started out as well organized pseudo-grassroots events (some were funded by special interest PACs and promoted by FOX News). Many had jingoistic, xenophobic, and even racist overtones. A few people even brought their guns, presumably just in case the British tried to retake America.
The result of all this conservative outrage at the Obama administration; much of it just plain old sore loser hurt feelings, was the 2010 election of a super conservative Republican freshmen majority in the House of Representatives. This 112th Congress wasted no time taking crazy to a whole new level. Someone figured out how to abuse the time honoured filibuster rule and threats of filibuster by House Republicans and Senators more than quadrupled.
Meanwhile, apparently a memo went out to all the newly elected Republican Governors that the top priority was to emasculate the Democratic electorate by any means necessary and as quickly as possible before President Obama could be re-elected. These Governors proceeded to rush through all manner of laws (that none of them campaigned on) that cut off union rights, changed voter registration laws to disenfranchise certain demographic of voters who traditionally vote Democratic, and changed long standing voter ID laws that would cause voters to spend money in order to vote (otherwise known as a poll tax). Even now several states are embroiled in court battles over gerrymandering; the practice of redistricting in order to unfairly benefit a particular political party. When you can’t win democratically, win dirty.
The results of all of this mucking with the system have been revolt and backlash; particularly in Wisconsin where recalls have been staged and are underway for the Governor and Lt. Governor. Similar backlash is occurring in Ohio, Indiana, Florida, and Michigan where a form of financial martial law has been imposed disbanding entire elected governments of some towns altogether.
Not to be outdone, our Supreme Court narrowly passed Citizens United, the absurd ruling that declares that corporations are people and have the same rights that people are endowed with including freedom of speech. One interpretation of that means that corporations may donate unlimited funds to political campaigns. Even Republicans are beginning to see the folly of that decision as the candidates bloody each other with millions in negative ads funded by a few rich donors. Thanks to Citizens United, our elections are the best that money can buy.
Meanwhile, back in Congress, conservatives; dragged ever further to the right by the Tea Party influence began putting forth all manner of obsolete and pointless social issues on the docket and trying to tack them onto routine bills like the debt ceiling bill. They demanded cuts to everything except the military. They engaged in games of chicken with the budget trying to undermine social safety net programs that even their own constituents and the Tea Party members benefit from all in an attempt to discredit the President. It’s like trying to kill the captain by sinking the ship. In their blind hatred for this administration they were willing to risk burning down the economy of the entire world.
Now that this strategy has failed, they’re back to trying to create a negative perception of the President again by perpetuating the mythos of the foreign secret Muslim Manchurian candidate who is as ineffective as Jimmy Carter. Mitt Romney continues to say that the economy has failed because of Obama (the economy is the strongest ever since it collapsed at the end of the Bush era). Newt Gingrich keeps comparing the President with some dead boogeyman named Saul Alinsky who no one has ever heard of (who turns out to be a fairly interesting guy).
The rest of the conservatives are furiously trying to turn this into some kind of religious crusade by trying to take down Planned Parenthood the backlash of which may the demise of the Susan Komen Foundation, the leading organization for breast cancer prevention. And Rick Santorum is even running on a platform of trying to outlaw birth control!
This whole conservative, knee-jerk bout of paranoia is simply a resistance to the change that President Obama was elected to bring about. It’s no different from the delusional paranoid wave of fear that swept the country when Joe McCarthy brought on the red spectre of communism in the fifties. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. In both cases personal ideology based upon fear is being abused to subvert democracy.
The same remedy for the McCarthy era must be applied today: those responsible for perpetuating the fear must be removed from power. The Republican party has lost its soul and needs to spend some time in the wilderness trying to break the fever until the madness subsides.
In the meantime, this country needs to look forward.
- Has the Right Gone Mad? (athomesense.wordpress.com)
- New Poll Finds Republicans in ‘State of Collapse’ (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- Republicans’ Reality TV Politics (mykeystrokes.com)
- James Peron: Do Republicans Have a Death Wish? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Poll: Republicans on Verge of Political Death (usnews.com)