Skip to content
About these ads

What every American must know about the Republican Party

16 October 2012

Summary:  Their racism, a key component of the Republicans coalition from the Southern Strategy begun with Goldwater, is the most obvious evil aspect of the new GOP. It’s a repudiation of the Party’s Grand origin, but only the most obvious of its ugly planks. Here we look at one example, then examine how this came to be.  It’s a key chapter in the development of the New America.

This video shows what the Republicans have become (details at Buzzfeed), one of a thousand such moments during the past 8 years. Like Romney’s remarks about the 47%, these are moments of honesty — something rare in American campaigns — letting us see what lies behind the masks.

.

.

Ta-Nehisi Coates comments on the above video:  “It’s Funny Because We’re White“, The Atlantic, 15 October 2012:

Jason Thompson, the son of former Governor and Wisconson Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, speaking this morning at a brunch attended RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said that “we have the opportunity to send President Obama back to Chicago — or Kenya.” A woman in attendance then chimed in “we are taking donations for that Kenya trip.”

There is this sense that birther jokes are the sideshow of the Republican Party, a nutty fringe that keeps conservatives from the serious task of separating those who are smart from those who are poor. But I would argue that birther jokes are the essence of the conservative movement: The involuntary spewings of a resentful class who know they should be better, and hate you for holding them to this.

That’s who they are.

How did the GOP become this?  It did not just happen.

The major themes of the US history have been strong domestic investment in infrastructure, evolution of individual rights, and cautious involvement in foreign conflicts. Today’s GOP has abandoned all of these, adopting positions earlier generations considered extreme or even beyond the pale — and roughly half of the public supports them to some extent.  As a result our politics have become unbalanced, perhaps dysfuctional.

How did this happen?

The GOP of today results from the patient and wise investment of vast sums over decades in politicians and journalists, think-tanks and new media — and, in general, centers of influence. They’ve molded both us and our political machinery, laying the foundation for the New America whose structure we see rising higher every day (described in the FabiusMaximus01 twitter feed). They’ve molded the Democratic Party as well, so that in many ways the parties agree on the direction they wish to take America — differing mostly in the speed and magnitude of the journey.  Important differences, however.

To see one aspect of this project please read this brilliant and devastating account of “How the GOP Destroyed its Moderates” by Jonathan Chait in The New Republic, 5 October 2012.  Here is an excerpt, skipping ahead to the end of the process — today’s GOP, after Obama’s election in 2008.

.

CONSERVATIVES exerted enormous pressure on their party to follow its new and more radical line, and the pressure quickly grew unbearable not only for Republicans in elected office but for many moderate intellectuals as well. The most high-profile of these figures was David Frum. In some ways he is also the most surprising.

Patriots, his new self-published novel, expresses in fictional form a sharper criticism of conservatism than his policy tract had done. The story centers on Walter Schotzke, a ne’er-do-well heir who stumbles into a fictionalized version of the Republican Party. … the unremarkable story is mainly a vehicle for Frum’s well-informed Washington anthropology.) The self-interest of the right-wing donor base, the sensationalism of the right-wing media, and the careerism of the movement’s foot soldiers come together in Frum’s interesting narrative to create a Republican world the internal reality of which barely intersects with that of the real world, an apparatus more like the Comintern than a properly functioning party in a mature democracy.

The only sense of Republican loyalty one can find in Patriots is loyalty to a party that no longer exists and cannot exist without blowing up and reconstructing the current version.

Frum is not the only conservative who has found himself irreconcilably opposed to the GOP and the conservative movement. Bruce Bartlett, a fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, lost his post for his fierce criticisms of Republican budgeting in the Bush era. Josh Barro left the Manhattan Institute.

Frum has approached his dilemma in more patient (and perhaps more immodest) fashion, conceiving of himself as the curator of a kind of Republican Party in exile, one whose opportunity to exert influence will come only after the party suffers a sufficiently dire and prolonged setback. A colleague of his once compared Frum’s project to “monks preserving knowledge during the Dark Ages.” For the time being, his wing of estranged moderates has sutured themselves off from their former allies, persevering in their ability to re-think moderate Republicanism, but depriving themselves of any immediate chance to exert influence within the party.

IF FRUM AND HIS fellow exiles have maintained a coherent analysis but forfeited their chance to affect the Republicans, a larger and more influential coterie of moderate conservatives has done the opposite. Columnists such as David Brooks, Michael Gerson, and Ross Douthat have formulated a serious and often stinging critique of the GOP’s radical direction, and, with varying degrees of seriousness and specificity, laid out an alternative path.

What they have failed to do is to face up to the cold reality that the alternative they propose diverges wildly from the actually existing Republican Party. They have instead convinced themselves that their reform crusade has succeeded, or will soon succeed. They consign the massive impediments before them to a small corner of their mental space. They invoke the Republican Party that they hypothesize as though it were real, and the real Republican Party as though it were hypothetical.

… THE MODERATES, either in exile or in a state of permanent denial, believe that their day will eventually come. Ultimately, they are probably right about this. The GOP cannot keep moving rightward indefinitely. As the economist Herbert Stein put it, any trend that can’t go on forever, won’t. Stein himself was a paradigmatic Republican moderate, one of the sole figures in his party of any standing openly to oppose the GOP’s embrace of supply-side economics and other forms of magical thinking. He died in 1999 an almost totally marginal figure within the party, so his famous maxim may offer limited comfort.

And eventually is a very long time. By the time the rightward migration of the party has finally halted, the definition of Republican “moderate” will likely have corroded beyond all recognition.

Already the extremism of the party has advanced to such a point that its most fervent elements are identified less by their ideology — which is nearly impossible to distinguish any more from that of the mainstream — than by the degree to which their detachment from reality departs from paranoia as a mere figure of speech and approaches actual, clinical paranoia. “Radical” Republicans believe that Obama has created death panels, may have been secretly born overseas, and is plotting a United Nations invasion. The “mainstream” Republicans believe in goldbuggery and a massive plot by climate scientists, and deny the dramatic rise in income inequality in America.

For More Information

More about the Republican’s evolution from respectable partner in the Republic to what they’ve become:

Compare the GOP’s present and past to see how much they’ve changed:

  1. Let’s play “Name that Liberal”
  2. Let’s play round 2 of “Name That Liberal”
  3. Let’s play round 3 of “Name That Liberal”
  4. Conservatives oppose the new START treaty, as they opposed even the earlier version negotiated by Ronald Reagan, 24 July 2010

Another reminder

Ron Paul speaking at a Southern Historical Conference in Schertz, TX, on 29-30 August 2003:

Ron Paul speaking at a Southern Historical Conference in Schertz, TX, on 29-30 August 2003

.

About these ads
23 Comments leave one →
  1. dashui permalink
    16 October 2012 1:41 pm

    Tribalism is the most natural thing in the world.

    Like

    • 16 October 2012 1:44 pm

      Blame it on “tribalism”, another form of the “it just happened” excuse.

      American’s regard their Republic like chldren looking at a brooken cookie jar. Stuff just happens, but its not our fault. Perhaps that is why after 200 years the system has crashed.

      Like

    • WRF permalink
      17 October 2012 1:00 pm

      Tribalism is wired into human consciousness, and DNA, by evolution. Supertribes are imperialistic tribes. The USA has always had an internal conflict between “liberal” modernist imperialists and “conservative” feudal imperialists. The latter are far more dangerous.

      The problem here is paradigm regression to an older form of tribalism. The Right wishes to recreate a feudal order, apparently modeled on the Confederate slave system.

      Like

  2. 16 October 2012 2:35 pm

    The Rich focusing the People on an external target rather than on themselves probably goes back to the Bible, or Homer. It has stood the test of time. It works. And hatred draws the People together into a useful force. But the People can be fooled only so long and Progressives must be ready to offer them an option they can jump to. By Progressives, I mean upper class reformers like Teddy Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin. They seem to have been driven out of the Republican party and there is scant evidence that they reside in the Democratic party at the moment. They certainly have been locked out of leadership positions in the Obama Administration.

    Like

    • 16 October 2012 3:00 pm

      “But the People can be fooled only so long”

      Evidence? IMO history provides little support for that theory.

      Like

  3. 16 October 2012 3:27 pm

    “The New America” That is exactly what we are living in. And bravo for being so clear in regularly pointing the reality out.

    Until you have been to a Fund Raiser of the sorts we now hear about (which I have, John Boehner)and witness first hand the “honesty” referred to. Until you have known intimately the type of personality that inhabits the cadres at these gathering(which I have for 20 years) and encounter the extreme deeply-held opinions of the “others” – you perhaps cannot fully understand the twisted anti-American nature of this phenom.

    It is the face of the Republican Party in its functioning.

    This did not just happen. It was the fringe, yes, 30-40 years ago. A kinder Soul was the underlying reality way back when. But it has been nurtered and coddled and given vitamins and “performance enhancing drugs”! But oh so methodically we now can see the Results.

    I have no idea how you stop, way lay or throttle this. Essentially they have used the myths of a America to undermine the deeper bedrock of the Hope that was the USA. Way too many Citizens STILL adore the the attainment of elite status and believe it is available to them. It is not. Never will be and the delusion is deadly.

    Breton

    Like

  4. James Catfish permalink
    16 October 2012 3:53 pm

    I have been slow to understand the path the Republican Party has taken. I live at ground zero for this nutty thought process, and at first my feeling was that it was just local, and a view of the radical few. It is now clear that I was wrong. It appears the present party line fits perfectly with some human weakness I do not understand. Everyone has the same lines, Obama the Commie, Arab, and so on, no real logic, just slogans, and racial remarks. It’s like they have been perfectly programed.

    I would agree the Democratic Party has been reshaped also, and the choices in this election are grim. it’s almost like being called on to decide which pedophile will care for your children.

    Like

    • 16 October 2012 6:08 pm

      Me, too.

      As a Republican activist since the 1980, I was brutally slow to see — let alone understand — what was happening. This painful process began with and is visible on the FM website.

      Like

    • James Catfish permalink
      16 October 2012 6:40 pm

      Who is behind these radical changes in the Republican Party, and what is their goal? What do they want the Nation to become?

      Like

    • 17 October 2012 2:04 am

      Who: The 1% and their minions.

      Why:

      “The object of power is power.”
      — George Orwell’s 1984

      “Excess of wealth is cause of covetousness.”
      — Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, Act I (c. 1592)

      “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.
      — Erich Fromm (American psychologist) Escape from Freedom (1941)

      Like

    • The Pagan permalink
      18 October 2012 3:44 am

      A perfect description of Romney.

      Like

    • 18 October 2012 3:49 am

      If a candidate’s character is an important factor in your decision, you’ll find this worthwhile (if disturbing) information: “Mitt Romney ‘pushed sons’ faces into plates of butter’“, The Telegraph, 21 June 2012 — “Mitt Romney’s sons have described their father’s taste for aggressive horseplay, explaining how he enjoyed pushing their heads into plates of butter and wrestling them as children.”

      Lot’s of ugly stories. We know that Romney was a bully as a teen; these stories show that he remained such as a father.

      Like

  5. 16 October 2012 4:09 pm

    “But the People can be fooled only so long”

    Evidence? IMO history provides little support for that theory.”

    Examples – In our Civil War and the First World War, volunteers manned the Armies during the first two years. By then the people learned about war and governments had to resort to the draft.

    And you wouldn’t dare contradict Lincoln who said. “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”

    Like

    • 16 October 2012 6:06 pm

      (1). Good point about the draft! People are great at assessing personal risks, like going to war. But history suggests that the dynamic you implicitly describe, people responding to threats to their prosperity or liberty, is rare.

      Which is why long-lived democracies are rare. At least so far.

      (2). Poetry like Jefferson’s (we hold these rights) and Lincoln’s can inspire us, it provides a poor basis for planning. The inalienable rights are nothing of the sort, being obtained through blood, sweat, and tears.

      And people are often fools for countless generations.

      Freedom is an act of mind and will. Neither history or god care.

      Like

  6. John cardillo permalink
    16 October 2012 5:28 pm

    These things have a potential to end badly.

    The conspiracy theories and the preaching that is inciting anger and resentment is coming from unrestrained radio and television talk shows and the internet. For the past four years I’ve listened to these shows and have observed the growing level of anger and rage from listeners who have bought into the message.

    What concerns me most is that I have seen this pattern before. Some people may remember the Oklahoma City Bombing 1995, when Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in what he considered an act of revolt against an evil Federal Government. What most people don’t remember were the years leading up to the event. Anti-government, new world order and secret society conspiracy theories, flooded the airwaves, especially short wave.

    It took several years before that message finally inspired someone to act out. And when they did, the airwaves went silent. The talk shows went silent. The conspiracy theories stopped.

    It took an act of that magnitude to stop the madness. I sure hope it doesn’t come to that again.

    Like

    • 16 October 2012 8:01 pm

      The conspiracy theories and the preaching that is inciting anger and resentment is coming from unrestrained radio and television talk shows and the internet.

      They’re necessary but easily deniable useful idiots. They exist to jam the overton window open and can be either portrayed as a vital new thought-movement (e.g.: the early tea party) or crazed nutbags (e.g.: the late tea party) with a simple flip of a switch. Court jesters like Glenn Beck can always be created on demand and carry the seeds of their own destruction in their own craziness.

      It’s important to remember that this isn’t about preaching to the choir, it’s about making the choir appear to sing with unity to attract the undecided.

      Like

  7. 16 October 2012 7:39 pm

    Regarding Blood, sweat, tears, a friend loaned me a collection of portraits from Vanity Fair, 1915 to 1933. I found this entry written by Harold Nicholson in 1931,

    “His dominant qualities are imagination, courage, and loyalty; his dominant defect, impatience. He is a man who leads forlorn hopes, and when the hopes of England become forlorn, he will once again be summoned to leadership.”
    — Of Winston Churchill. Written in 1931.

    Like

  8. 17 October 2012 2:10 am

    For a description of this campaign see Charles P. Pierce at Esquire:
    .
    .
    In the lead-up to his increasingly frightening (if increasingly successful) appointment as Willard Romney’s running mate, various pollsters presented to various Americans, in various contexts, the details of the zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan’s “budget” and the actual provisions therein. It did not poll well, across the board, for the most part.

    None of the precise details of what the Republicans were actually planning to do, it seemed, were really polling well at all back in August. Voters simply did not believe that any politicians would be so suicidal as to actually act on some of this nonsense. That was then, and here we are, with three weeks left, on the brink of having Willard Romney as our president.

    I am quite serious that Romney may win this thing after all.

    … You can feel what had been disadvantages for the Romney campaign all year turning into advantages in the homestretch because people like to be with winners. His stonewalling on practically everything, from his personal finances to the details of his economic plan, is now being seen as his being resolute. The fact that he really has become quite a remarkable liar is now being seen as a clever tactical “tack toward the center.” People who laughed at the Etch-A-Sketch idea six months ago are buying it quite seriously now. At your throat or at your feet. That’s our political elite.

    But, as to the latter, this is what those long-forgotten polls are all about. People are looking at what Romney supported during the primary campaign and they simply refuse to believe that he would turn any of that into policy because they don’t believe any politician would risk damaging that many lives. (There’s a reason why the Ryan “budget” makes even its supporters hide under the bed. It’s a gimcracked blueprint for dystopia and ruin.)

    There is more at work here than simply a belief in “moderate Mitt.” There is also a belief that you, yourself, never would be silly enough to throw your support behind anything as vague and radical as what Romney and Ryan propose to do once they get elected. Social Security would never be privatized. Medicare can never be a voucher. You would never vote for any of that so, therefore, these guys can’t be serious about it or else you wouldn’t be voting for them. That loop right now is perilously close to being closed.

    Like

  9. Thomas More permalink
    17 October 2012 3:57 am

    FM says that “the 1% and their minions” are behind the extreme rightward shift of the Republican party, and this is certainly accurate, but IMHO it leaves out some important personalities. History is a matter of people, not just bribes and shadowy conspiracies. (It history weren’t that way, how can we explain the American constitution? Wouldn’t the 1% and their minions have wiped it out before it could have gotten started?)

    Barry Goldwater was a key figure in moving the Republican party toward the far right. Goldwater and his supporters largely took over the party after his defeat in 1964. But the real figure of evil in moving the Republican party to the extreme right and exiting reality entirely was Ronald Reagan. Every single crazy behavior of the Republican party that seems such an affront to logic and common sense today began with Reagan. Denying observed reality? Reagan started it with one-liners like “Forest fires and caused more pollution than all the smokestacks in America.” Turning the White House into a giant tool booth for bribes that allowed lobbyists to write legislation? Reagan was the first one to carry that to its logical conclusion. Managing the news cycle so that reality has no chance to break in and disrupt the outlandish surreal message the White House is trying to convey? Reagan’s team did that first, providing surreal predigested “news bites” each day to the major networks so that the networks would wind up spoon-feeding their viewers Republican-party-designed propaganda every day instead of actual news. Veering far into the realm of religious nutjobbery, to the point where Reagan talked to reporters about the End Days of the Book of Revelation and how events in the middle east looked like they were leading up to a Second Coming? Reagan was the first to do that too. Massive deficits justified by “voodoo economics” (as presidential candidate George H. W. Bush described it in 1980)? Reagan was the guy who started that trend too.

    Reagan was so dangerous because, unlike Goldwater, Reagan was able to spew the most virulent craziness with a warm kindly smile and such a genial charming manner that people accepted the insanity the Republicans were peddling without questioning it.

    The way FM describes people reacting to Romney (see above) is much the same as the way people reacted to Reagan. Voters simply couldn’t imagine that that kind charming genial man actually meant it when he said in 1970 about Vietnam antiwar protesters “If it takes a blood bath, let’s get it over with” and in 1964 when Reagan said about medicare “In my opinion there are only two direction in American poltics: not left or right, but up and down — up toward freedom or downward toward the anthill of totalitarianism.”

    People simply couldn’t believe that such a charming genial man was actually serious when the described medicare as “the anthill of totalitarianism.”

    Like

  10. WRF permalink
    17 October 2012 12:32 pm

    Colonization of Lifeworld by Systems, re: “The involuntary spewings of a resentful class who know they should be better, and hate you for holding them to this.
    That’s who they are.”

    The above of statement (from Liberals), while true, is nevertheless usually psychological projection, Jungian shadow. It perfectly describes the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Democratic Party establishment in most places. The rise of the Lunatic Right is a direct result of the failure of the Left. The Left and Right are mirror images, constantly seeking to validate their own (dysfunctional) internal emotional states by “demonizing the other”.

    The Left replaced economic justice and labor activism with postmodernism’s “tag team from hell: nihilism and narcissism”, pluralism taken to extremes in the form of political correctness and thought policing. The institutional forms of such thought policing were then merged in a Frankenstein concoction with the Corporatizers* as the Left was sold out by Clinton&Co.

    The Right is far more animated by a feeding frenzy around Ego Gratification and Greed -at this point-. When/if the Left ever rises again, it will follow the predictable pattern of “power corrupts”.

    What is needed is a “third way” that is effective.

    *Notes on Habermas: Lifeworld and System, Arthur W. Frank (Prof Sociology, U Calgary) — excerpts:

    … for Habermas the core of any action is communication. The central problem of contemporary societies is not how order is maintained … but rather how to create conditions for what Habermas calls “communicative action”. Understanding Habermas means understanding what he means by communication, and why he places such emphasis on it.

    … As advanced capitalist societies have developed, the core integrative function of communication has been increasingly disabled (Habermas would say “colonized”). Thus the legitimation of social institutions, indeed of nation states, is in crisis. By legitimation Habermas means citizens’ sense that the institutions within which they live are just, benevolent, in their best interest, and deserving of their support, loyalty, and adherence. …

    Like

  11. 18 October 2012 2:20 pm

    I have a cousin, he’s a very wealthy man, a stockbroker on Wall Street, and a financial backer of the republican party. Now he is a very clever man, and someone I respect, he’s honest, hard working, and generous. I called him out on some of the Republican Parties policies, he offered a half hearted defense, before giving up and smiling a you got me smile. I asked him why he would vote for them if he though most of there platform was bullshit. He said that financially he would be better off under the republicans.
    For me its simple, as soon as the republican parties backers realize that the yahoo’s wont get them back into power, the money will be funneled to candidates that are electable. The penny will drop.

    I hope.

    Like

    • 18 October 2012 2:26 pm

      “as soon as the republican parties backers realize that the yahoo’s wont get them back into power, the money will be funneled to candidates that are electable”

      I agree. But what if the GOP’s elecoral strategy works? The polls show the Presidential election to be quite close.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. A look at the foundations of conservative power in America « Fabius Maximus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,575 other followers

%d bloggers like this: