Today we ask the mineshaft: Is the Right winning or losing in America?

Summary:  Today we ask about the future of the GOP, and America.  Are they ascendant, or a list gasp of a dying ideology?  We ask the mineshaft!  As in “ask the community”, from the German “Gemeinschaft” (see Wikipedia).  Post your answer in the comments.

To help you better understand the world, the FM website takes clear positions on current events — and sometimes makes bold predictions about the future.  The results appear in the Past Predictions (wins) and Smackdowns pages.  Here we discuss a prediction about a vital question, asking if my prediction so far looks accurate or wrong.

The GOP ran a disastrous campaign in 2008.  Two days before the election I outlined two paths the GOP might take after defeat.

  1. Door #1:  Purge the Party’s membership, keeping only the faithful
  2. Door #2:  reflection and rebuilding

I cited a large body of GOP defectors predicting the GOP would take door #1, leading to its doom.  Other posts (see below) explored the likely consequences.

The GOP did take door #1, with the rise of the Tea Party, purging of moderates (ie, center-right), and radicalizing of its platform — to the point of madness, a large-scale disconnect from reality seen by its leaders, pundits, and candidates. It’s visible almost each day in the headlines.

But instead of collapse, they gained power in the 2010 elections. Since then trends in both Congress and the Courts suggest a movement ascendant — not in decline.  Polls show America even split between the two parties, an unusual degree of balance between them.

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Does this reflect the GOP gaining strength, as the plutocracy’s growing strength empowers them?

Or is it a temporary rise driven by aging white boomers at the peak of their wealth and political involvement — fearful of a strange future, turning right in reaction — ending in political oblivion as the next generation of ethnically diverse (and far less fundamentalist Christian) voters swing to the Democrats?

More specifically, what happens in November? In February I forecast that a weakening economy would lead to a win by Romney and his team of competent political engineers.  Both the weak economy and political competency now seem questionable assumptions.

Sketch out your vision of the future in the comments.  Will my prediction become a headline boast on the Past Predictions Page, or another wrong note documented on the Smackdowns Page?

For More Information

For all posts on this topic see the FM Reference Page Politics in America – and the 2012 Campaign.

About the future of America:

About the future of the Republican Party:

  1. What happens to the Republican Party after the election?, 2 November 2008
  2. R.I.P., G.O.P. – a well-deserved end, 7 November 2008 — Policies that led the GOP to the cliff and over it.
  3. Conservative reflections about America – starting to use their time in the wilderness to think, 15 November 2008
  4. Conservatives should look back before attempting to move forward, 5 December 2008

About the 2012 election:

  1. Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections, 5 February 2010
  2. Mitt Romney and the Empire of Hubris. Setting America on a path to decline., 10 October 2011
  3. President Romney will prove an effective President, reshaping America for his constituents., 17 April 2012
  4. Romney back on top. More evidence that the campaign news matters little. It’s the economy!, 19 July 2012
  5. The significance for America of Romney’s choice of Ryan as VP, 11 August 2012

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42 thoughts on “Today we ask the mineshaft: Is the Right winning or losing in America?

  1. An unstated assumption in American political discourse is that a decline of the right is QED offset by a rise of the left, and vise versa.

    Actually, however, both are in decline; but the left’s started a generation earlier ( ca. 1975 as opposed to ca 2000). The root cause for both declines is the decline of the nation-state. Both left and right are efforts to utilize the nation-state for divergent purposes; neither of which work anymore.

    The focus on “social” issues, which largely rehash positions established in the 1960s exists because the 1960s was the last time the United States as a nation-state was largely functional. ( A more complex discussion would also discuss the Reagan Revolution, but I presently don’t have time or space for this. Suffice it to say that the Reagan Revolution is now spent.) This exhaustion of the nation-state corresponds to a greater exhaustion of their overall ideals, with general cultural enui

    One hopeful aspect of the current landscape is the emergence of the Latino population, which culturally and historically doesn’t have a dog in the 1960’s fight and greater transnational potential than more established American populations. They have the potential to generate new developments of great interest and potential – and in the case of Mexican drug lords, etc. – great seriousness.

    None of which would be dictated by current cliches.

    1. Duncan has nicely stated my position except I am less hopeful that the Latino population will bring a new view to the table. So far the Latino population has been successfully recruited to the existing positions. But the century is still young so there is still time for change.

  2. Eugene Debs, the perrennial Socalist party candidate of the early 20th century complained after Franklin Rooseveldt became president that the Democratic party had stolen his platform.

    Now it would seem that the Democratic party is stealing the platform of Ronald Reagan. I think that both parties have moved markedly to the right and that the Democratic party has no viable progressive solutions to our economic and social problems. Even Obama’s health plan is modeled on what was once a centrist Republican idea.

    The Republicans have moved so far to the right that are in danger of losing an election that, given Obama’s weak performance, any reasonable and moderate Republican could have easily won.

    It is reasonable to raise taxes on the wealthy when we have a massive deficit, it is reasonable to provide help for distressed homeowners and stimulus to the econamy in bad economic times, it is reasonable to reform our immigration policies so that employed and law-abiding undocumented persons are allowed to stay and eventually gain citizenship, it is reasonable to keep abortion legal and safe. It is reasonableto see that all Americans have access to health care.

    The Republican party has rejected all of these reasonable positions and will probably fail in its coming quest for power. That doesn’t mean, however, that the political center in this country hasn’t shifted to the right.

    1. Hard to see how the two political parties could have shifted so significantly to the right without a concomitant shift in the attitudes of the American public, but I would also be interested in the polling data.

    2. I look at the news and can feel the power coming down on us. Moving unseen, re-ordering society in a thousand ways. So a Republic slowly become a plutocracy, while its citizens (now subjects) comfort themselves with wisdom about the impossibility of change. Things have always been this way. We look at the words printed on the side of the barn, reminding us of the eternal truths of our society: Four legs good, two legs better.

      “It’s all about power and the unassailable might of money.”
      — E. P. Arnold Royalton, the great 21st century industrialist and philanthropist

    3. I just went to a link posted on Zerohedge today that shows the percentage of each state’s population that purchases left leaning books vs. right leaning books. This could be somewhat useful and it shows that almost all states – besides four – are at least slightly swayed to the right.

    4. Brooks refers to American Election Heat Map 2012

      (1) These kind of results are dependent on the population and classification of books used for the calculation. IMO not to be taken seriously unless designed by a reliable professional.

      (2) Unrelated: reading Zero Hedge must be done carefully least it rot your mind. I recommend reading only the content reposted there (often copyrighted material with no mention of permissions). They repost some top-quality material, some of which is difficult to get (eg, Goldman research). The analysis its authors produce is often exaggerated, misinterpreted, or outright wrong. For example, they description of economic data is very often backwards (ie, they find bearish details in overall positive reports).

    5. My understanding (but only that, no link, sorry) is that the population is much more “liberal” (for lack of a better word) than the “dialogue” occurring in any election would suggest.

      If I remember correctly, a majority of Americans want a single-payer health care system. I believe that solid majorities also question the wisdom of our military-centric, interventionist foreign policy. The War on (Some) Drugs has some very well-organized constituencies (all of them with direct financial interests in the continuing fiasco), but its popular support is dropping all the time. Tea Partiers and Wall Street Occupiers both fume — each in their own way — over how it is that Washington has poured hundreds of billions into Wall Street without a SINGLE meaningful investigation or indictment.

      These things are simply never discussed in any election (although Ron Paul did try to rectify that, however eccentrically). The horseshit cranking up for the November circus, the fearmongering over the Kenyan Muslim or “threatened” abortion rights, is simply flailing by zero-imagination party apparatchiks. All they know is that they have to prod their core blocs to the polls, because a whole lot of other, saner folks are simply going to sit this one out. Why should they, when the parties have demonstrated time and again that they answer solely to their owners?

      So I don’t think we can really know whether Americans have drifted rightward or not. Whenever the answer might matter, the question simply isn’t asked.

  3. We are now at an apex of the Iron Law of Oligarchy {Wikipeidia}. We are now in the downward slope. The elites having insulated themselves from any risk of reform can now only collapse.

    There are many changes coming; end of the post WWII world, end of the Westphalian Nation State, the automation of everything, end of the American Empire, the end of the corporate era, etc, etc, etc. There is too much change for any centrally organized organization to process and react. The solution would be to decentralize and adopted a distributed approach to managing the change.

    Yet everywhere we see a knee jerk reaction to the shocks these changes are producing and a pulling in to the center of power and decision making. Neither political party is responding. Collapse is the only course left.

    Resilient communities and individuals are forming and endeavoring to insulate themselves from the greater collapse. It is now the only logical alternative.

    Whoever wins in November nearly half the population will claim they won by election fraud and are illegitimate. The next step will be civil war. What form that will take in the 21st century is the next topic of discussion. But no one is going to win the next election.
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    FM Note: Opening of the Wikipedia entry for “Law of Oligarchy”

    The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. It claims that rule by an elite, or “oligarchy”, is inevitable as an “iron law” within any organization as part of the “tactical and technical necessities” of organization. Michels particularly addressed the application of this law to representative democracy, and stated: “It is organization which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, of the mandataries over the mandators, of the delegates over the delegators. Who says organization, says oligarchy.” He went on to state that “Historical evolution mocks all the prophylactic measures that have been adopted for the prevention of oligarchy.” Michels stated that the official goal of representative democracy of eliminating elite rule was impossible, that representative democracy is a façade legitimizing the rule of a particular elite, and that elite rule, that he refers to as oligarchy, is inevitable.

    1. “Whoever wins in November nearly half the population will claim they won by election fraud and are illegitimate.”
      “The next step will be civil war. What form that will take in the 21st century is the next topic of discussion.”
      “But no one is going to win the next election.”

      Three precise forecasts. My guess — with high confidence — is that all three will prove false.

      Note that even with disputed elections in 2000 — decided by a controversial Supreme Court decision — we didn’t have “nearly half the population” claim the results was “illegitimate”. Ditto with Obama. There widespread birther chatter, but that’s considered insane by most Americans.

      As for civil war, I believe this widespread talk of revolt, civil war, mass protests, etc — found on both sides of the political spectrum — results from our totally false self-image as a brave bold people. In fact we’ve become a weak, credulous, easily led, docile people. This big talk is our means of reducing the cognitive dissonance between what we were and what we are.

    2. I somewhat agree with Fabius’ last point. And I don’t believe civil war, revolt and mass protest will occur. Not at least until a much larger portion of the population becomes impoverished and/or homeless and people really begin to see the deterioration around them. Even this may not guarantee disobedience. I also believe that genuine disobedience requires a well-informed, creative, and intelligent citizenry – oh, and can’t forget sociable!

      This is why I disobey (or should I say refuse injustice) in my own way for the change I want to see.

    3. 50% of Republicans say that they think that Obama was born in another country. More believe there is actually in person voter fraud in spite of evidence showing only 10 cases in 10 years. How many Democrats will believe that Romney won through voter suppression?

      I think the early stages of a civil dispute if not war have already begun. They just don’t look like what people expect. Anonymous and Lulz’s cyber attacks and leaked sensitive documents are the early skirmishes. Riots in England I don’t expect anything like the original civil wars such as Cromwell’s in England or the American Civil War. Those were wars in largely agrarian societies and early industrial societies.

      Most likely this will take place in cyber space. Rumors now abound that it was Anonymous that leaked Romney’s tax returns. Have to wait for any confirmation. But there are likely to be more skirmishes. The elites are reacting by trying to monitor ever electronic interaction, the rebels are reacting with dark nets. The elites are trying are to fence in innovation; the rebels are trying to open source everything.

      Technology is pushing us towards a distributed economy and distributed society. The elites are trying to centralize everything. Will Bitcoin displace the dollar? Not likely, at least not for a while. The fact that it is still alive at this point is significant. It may become an alternative to either the hegemonic currencies like the dollar and the euro vs the rigidity of gold or the difficulties of every country for itself.

      Lines are being drawn. They just don’t look like what we are used to. Battles will not break out along the Mason-Dixon or other countries borders. They lines are going to be along lifestyles, consumer/producer, tech creators vs tech controllers. It won’t be like anything what we have seen before. It is possible that there will not be any violence. Just challenges to authority. How do you do gun control when people can print weapons. How do you have a war on drugs when they can be printed?
      The ‘chemputer’ that could print out any drug“, The Guardian, 21 July 2012 — “When Lee Cronin learned about the concept of 3D printers, he had a brilliant idea: why not turn such a device into a universal chemistry set that could make its own drugs?”

      All these are as much challenges to authority and interest groups as gathering in a grassy field to challenge the king. And just a lethal to the status quo. Modern first world civil war won’t look like it use to or as it does in third world agrarian societies. But it has already started. And it is starting the way it always does. A minority of capable people that are amazingly annoyed with the status quo.

      John Robb of the globalguerillas website writes about 4-generation warfare. He discusses the super empowerment of individuals. It doesn’t take a large group to start upheaval. Just a small minority that is capable and ticked off.

      This is what keeps anti-terrorist specialists up at night and should worry all of us.

    4. (1) Birthers

      It’s actually worse than that. See the following comment. Only 22% of Republicans believe that Obama was born in the US, per that poll.

      (2) “It doesn’t take a large group to start upheaval. Just a small minority that is capable and ticked off.”

      This is not just wild speculation, it’s totally devoid of any historical context.

      We have always had large divisions, often violent. Today’s are probably smaller than those of our past. Today’s ethnic and sectarian differences are a shadow of that in the past. As for social conflict, today’s are insignificant compared to those of the past — suffragette, prohibitionists, violent conflict over labor unions, cattle vs sheep ranchers, enclosures vs free range, the McCarthy era, race riots, draft riots, etc.

      It’s a long list of conflicts, most of which dwarf those of today in most ways.

      The rate of technological change, which induces social tension, is far far slower than in the late 19th century.

      Most of this is just display of Americans’ adjustment to the transition from Republic to Plutocracy: self-dramatization. We bold, brave, determined. Don’t stomp on me or I just might consider doing something a little serious someday in the future (when baseball and football seasons are over).

      We have always been a violent people. My guess is that we’re now domesticated. Violence may come, but at the direction of our ruling elites. Fear blackshirts and brownshirts.

      There are several posts on the FM website about these things. I can provide links if you’re interested.

    5. OK, one link: Empowered individuals — and super-empowered ones!, 13 November 2007 — Summary:

      Super-empowered individuals are a cutting-edge debate in some circles. But individuals are always powerful, able to shape their human and physical terrain — alter history. If there are such a thing, the big question is if they are good development — or bad? Following Godwin’s Law, we end with a discussion of Nazi’s and Hitler.

    6. Ryan Brooks writes:

      And I don’t believe civil war, revolt and mass protest will occur. Not at least until a much larger portion of the population becomes impoverished and/or homeless and people really begin to see the deterioration around them.

      Just to give a touchstone that I am familiar with: it took the Church owning 25% of all the land, the crown owning 50%, and the nobles (collectively) owning 20% of the land in France, then an economic collapse brought on by some pointless wars, and a bad harvest, to trigger the final French Revolution.

      The Russian Revolution was comparable – industrialization on the top half put the urban populations into wage-slavery working 12-15 hrs/day, and the farmers (as always) were barely scraping by. It took the loss of nearly 5 million people in WWI for the population to finally rebel. As with the French Revolutions, the Russian Revolutions were a sequence of events which finally culminated in successful revolutions only when the standing army began to break away from the crown and take side with the rebels.

      For the masses to rise, it takes a lot. For the plutocrats to fall to fighting over the spoils (e.g.: the English Revolutions) – that’s not so hard. But it doesn’t result in any change other than “meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”

      The US had some pretty serious rebellions starting after WWI, most particularly the “Bonus Army” which was suppressed by the standing army, which decisively decided to support the state. For things to get bad enough for a revolution would take a very long time even at the current trajectory. It would have to be accompanied by a parallel weakening of the US military, or something divorcing it from its extremely amiable relationship with the plutocracy.

  4. I think one of the reasons why the Republican Party has managed to succeed despite its steady move ever further to the right and its increasingly radical policies is because the Republican Party overwhelmingly (perhaps even exclusively) represents the people in this country who continue to make up the dominant force(s) in our culture — meaning wealthy, white, able-bodied, heterosexual Protestant males of Northern European descent.

    Complaints from that group notwithstanding — which are largely about being asked or expected to share their power with members of other less powerful groups instead of holding an unquestioned and unchallenged position at the top of the food chain as they had the privilege of doing in decades past — the fact is that people who meet most or all the criteria listed will almost always have more privileges (including those which they take for granted and/or of which they’re unaware because they’ve never experienced anything different), have more opportunities, and be given more leeway because their values represent a kind of cultural or national default. These are the people who previously were and who for the most part continue to be the power brokers in this country, which means that their desires and influence tends to prevail or be given preference over that of others.

    I’m not certain it’s accurate to say that the country as a whole has moved further to the right, especially not in light of multiple public opinion polls over the past couple of years which clearly indicate that the policies which our elected officials have been advocating in Washington are no longer coinciding with the express wishes of the people. However, it should be clear that many of the power brokers in this country — meaning the bankers, the corporations, the politicians, the media, and the military — have been moving further to the right.

    Yes, *both* parties have demonstrably moved further to the right…but I believe this is largely because the elected officials of both parties are basically gathered from the same group of people (those who meet most of the criteria listed previously, and especially when it comes to personal income). One of the remaining fundamental differences between the two parties at this point — since the actions of both parties show that they’ve abandoned their responsibility to the American people as a whole and have instead chosen to act in the interests of their own group and those people who front them the most — is that the Democrats are at least willing to give lip service, and occasionally more than lip service, to the interests of other groups whereas any similar outreach from the Republicans has a marked tendency to fall flat and/or fall on deaf ears.

  5. Door #1 I have excluded myself, used to be a die hard Republican, now independent. To me a true conservative does what is best for the nation, and future generations. A true conservative uses our resources wisely, dons the uniform of his nation when at war, is cautious, and thoughtful, seeks out true experts to fill vital roles, listens to all sides of the issues, is loyal to the nation first, and party second, third or fourth, attempts to be inclusive of all citizens, not exclusive.

    Unfortunately George Washington is unavailable.

    1. Catfish — a question, if you’re comfortable answering. How often do you vote for Democrats? Polls show that most self-identified independents usually vote for one party.

    2. That is my major problem, who to vote for. My transition has been fairly recent. The Democratic Party is no better than the Republican Party in my view. Obama has largely carried on with George W Bush’s policies. The major thing they differ on is gun control. I am just harder on the RNC because I think the potential was there.

      I really no longer follow a party line, but vote for who I think is more qualified. For example I voted Democratic in the state Governor’s election and Republican on most local officials.

      I am undecided on the Presidential election. It’s not much of a choice, today I feel both Obama and Romney would lead us to a very bad place, if elected.
      I have a feeling the Republicans, from the start did everything to ensure Obama would fail. The Republican Party missed a chance to prove themselves true statesmen, and rise to the occasion. Thought Obama is not on my Christmas Card list, the racial undertones in my part of the country have largely been cheap shots, unworthy of a free people, and those who claim to be members of the Republican Party. (I am white, very southern, but it’s time to be a nation and move on. )

      Hope this answers your question FM.

  6. I would justl ike to point out that the polls don’t indicate an evenly split electorate. The polls indicate a huge Democratic advantage among registered voters, but near parity among “likely” voters. This distinction is crucial. The Republicans are hugely unpopular, but many voters are so demoralized, they don’t believe voting is worth it and show up to the polls.

    As for the GOP being ascendant, isn’t it the case that a m

    1. Wow, that’s a powerful point — that I didn’t know.

      Also: the go-to website for election polls is Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight at the New York Times. He comments on your point on 25 August:

      CNN’s latest national poll, released on Friday, contained a mix of good, bad and indifferent news for each candidate.

      The good news for Barack Obama? Among registered voters, he led Mitt Romney by nine percentage points, with 52 percent of the vote to Mr. Romney’s 43 percent.

      However, Mr. Obama led by just two percentage points, 49 to 47, when CNN applied its likely voter screen to the survey. This is the first time this year that CNN has reported likely voter results. Holding a two-point lead among likely voters is not an especially bad (or good) number for Mr. Obama, since it is highly consistent with the way that our forecast sees the overall race right now.

      What’s worrisome for him, rather, is the large gap in the poll — seven points — between the likely voter and registered voter results.

  7. Bad news: a look at the American Right. Only 22% of Republicans believe Obama was born in the USA.

    A report on poll results from the website of Benjamin Valentino, an Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.

    This survey, administered by YouGov (formerly Polimetrix) from April 26 – May 2, 2012, examines public attitudes on U.S. foreign policy, especially U.S. alliances and security commitments in regions such as East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Professor Valentino constructed this poll with the help of a wide range of scholars, including historians and political scientists, who submitted questions for the survey.

    Professor Valentino developed this poll as a research instrument to facilitate new scholarship as part of research he is conducting with colleagues through the Tobin Project.

    … The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.18%.

    [caption id="attachment_42673" align="alignnone" width="600"] YouGov from April 26 – May 2, 2012,[/caption]

    1. What is ironic about this poll is that it is basically polling a nonissue, because a plausible argument can be made for the idea that Obama would have been entitled to US citizenship at birth by virtue of the fact that his mother was a US citizen (otherwise known as the principle of jus sanguinis, or the right of blood) even if he had not been born in Hawaii and therefore entitled to citizenship at birth by virtue of the fact that he was born here (otherwise known as the principle of jus soli, or the right of soil). After all, that’s what this whole debate has always been about — the attempt to render the Obama presidency null and void on the basis of the claim that Obama was not entitled to citizenship at birth and therefore not eligible for the office.

      The United States is one of many countries that recognizes the right to automatic citizenship at birth through jus sanguinis (which usually only requires the citizenship of one parent in order to be considered valid) in the absence of jus soli. What this essentially means is that anyone who doubts or questions Obama’s claim to the Presidency is most likely either a woefully uninformed ignoramus (of which we sadly have more than plenty in this country) or a liar who is deliberately withholding and distorting information in an attempt to deceive woefully uninformed ignoramuses. What’s sad about this is that a sufficiently enterprising journalist could have reported this at any point during the last four years and could have significantly undermined the credibility of the Tea Party (especially since it wouldn’t have taken very long to research this)…yet at least to the best of my knowledge, not one person ever did (certainly nobody in the mainstream media). it’s possible that someone may have tried…but if so, their efforts were evidently thwarted

      The Constitution states explicitly that in order to be eligible for the Presidency, a candidate must be a “natural born citizen” which some people (conveniently) interpret to mean a candidate who was entitled to citizenship exclusively by virtue of jus soli. However, since jus sanguinis also automatically confers citizenship at birth, this means that the only way Obama’s candidacy could be considered invalid would be if his mother had officially renounced her US citizenship and become a citizen of another country before giving birth to him outside the United States since this would have deprived her son of both jus sanguinis and jus soli. However, there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that she ever did the former — contrary to what some people would like to believe, her political views don’t count as a renunciation of citizenship, especially not when the Constitution grants the freedom to disagree with the government — and any evidence suggesting that she might have done the latter is strictly hearsay, therefore undependable and invalid.

      Of course, this raises an interesting question…why did nobody in the mainstream media (or even the alternative or citizens media, as far as I know) report on this issue and demonstrate the utter irrationality of maintaining the debate? I find it extremely hard to believe that not one person — not one judge, not one lawyer, not one reporter, not even one particularly well-informed citizen — recognized the way to irrevocably terminate the debate once and for all (at least, for everyone outside of the extreme lunatic fringe whose racial prejudices won’t allow them to accept anyone who is not a Caucasian as President). Is it possible that the mainstream media felt they had more to gain from prolonging a sensational debate — despite the fact that it was in every meaningful respect complete nonsense and served no useful purpose other than as a tool to deceive and distract the gullible — than they did by telling the truth? Frankly, given the state of the media today, it wouldn’t surprise me.

  8. A friend of mine observed the other day that the right/left divide is too simplistic to be useful, anymore, since the axis has been bent into a horseshoe-shape, where the extreme right and extreme left are so close as to almost be shoulder-to-shoulder.

  9. Walter Russell Mead on the failure of liberalism: “Beyond Blue Part I: The Crisis of the American Dream“, 30 January 2012 — excerpt:

    [This post begins a series on how the United States can move beyond our current political, economic and social impasse to create a new kind of society. The series continues Via Meadia’s examination of the demise of the blue social model and its effects on American politics and culture.]

    The frustration and bitterness that fills American politics these days reflects the failure of our current social, political and economic institutions and practices to deliver the results that Americans want and expect. It’s comparable to the frustration and fear that swept through the country in the late 19th and early 20th century as the first American dream – that every family could prosper on its own farm – gradually died.

  10. Following FM’s theme, here is vivid proof of how common americans have become stupid, greedy and lazy, focused on short-term and not long-term investments, self-defeating behaviors, etc. “Life Inc, Douglas Rushkoff, Boing Boing, 4 May 2009? — [dismal but fascinating description of how narcissistic and corporatized are the attitudes of hip, upper middle professionals in urban america…] excerpt:

    As corporations gain ever more control over our economy, government, and culture, it is only natural for us to blame them for the helplessness we now feel over the direction of our personal and collective destinies. But it is both too easy and utterly futile to point the finger of blame at corporations or the robber barons at their helms–not even those handcuffed CEOs gracing the cover of the business section. Not even mortgage brokers, credit- card executives, or the Fed. This state of affairs isn’t being entirely orchestrated from the top of a glass building by an élite group of bankers and businessmen, however much everyone would like to think so–themselves included. And while the growth of corporations and a preponderance of corporate activity have allowed them to permeate most every aspect of our awareness and activity, these entities are not solely responsible for the predicament in which we have found ourselves.

    Rather, it is corporatism itself: a logic we have internalized into our very being, a lens through which we view the world around us, and an ethos with which we justify our behaviors. Making matters worse, we accept its dominance over us as preexisting–as a given circumstance of the human condition. It just is. But it isn’t.

    Corporatism didn’t evolve naturally. The landscape on which we are living–the operating system on which we are now running our social software–was invented by people, sold to us as a better way of life, supported by myths, and ultimately allowed to develop into a self- sustaining reality. It is a map that has replaced the territory.

  11. My personl opinion is the RPI (Rich People’s Insurgency). Power is largely controled by the Tax Code in this country and it is manipulated so that power concentrates into the hands of fewer and fewer people as each generation dies and passes along huge estates….and it dosen’t matter if they are right or left Republican por Democrat. It is just peole with alot of money and people who don’t.

  12. The right wing has won; the other side just hasn’t declared its unconditional surrender (the Democrats have not formally dissolved).

    The Republicans play to win, and they win. This is especially true in light of how formative the Gingrich Revolution has been on the modern Republican party, and it is still felt to this day even though Gingrich himself had been thoroughly disgraced.

    The 1994 Congressional elections marked a paradigm shift; Gingrich had coordinated it and he was able to remake the GOP in his image. And what is that?

    Gingrich is often described as a “double high” — a person with both high right-wing authoritarian and social dominance orientation traits. He surrounded himself in similar company, plus he encouraged the capture of peripheral organizations (churches, scouting organizations, etc.) by people with like-minded attitudes. (For years before the 1994 GOP congressional ascension, Gingrich had been synthesizing Movement Conservatism, libertarianism, K Street and the Religious Right and channeling those strains to a winning power base.)

    Since then, the GOP has been more Spartanized. There has been a values shift away from ideology and more toward the values of motivation, commitment and group loyalty. That doesn’t sound so bad. Those are the qualities of good sports teams and armies … as well as street gangs and drug cartels.

    The congressional culture certainly changed — you hear this a lot from retiring or defeated veteran senators and representatives about how in the old days there was more cooperation and respect between people of different parties. The values did indeed change.

    The congressional leaders emphasized party loyalty and fundraising. Both were reinforced by taking congressmembers out of the Capitol and putting them more in fundraising dinners and events before political groups, think tanks, talk radio, etc. This created the values system that prized committed partisans and weeded out weakness, unpredictability and unreliability.

    Over time, these values gradually helped to harden the GOP, officials and electorate alike. It’s the political equivalent of gang mentality.

    The word “conservative” is decoupled from any sort of ideological (that is, idea-based) tradition. It serves as a word merely to identify who’s an ally and who’s an enemy. American flags, quotes from the Founding Fathers, even the Constitution itself — they serve as totems like the colors red and blue for Bloods and Crips. Further, notice the attitude toward Democratic policies — not only Obama’s but going all the way back to the New Deal. That’s because they’re Democratic policies; never mind their political popularity or the disruption or blowback of ending those policies; the GOP takes that as a sign of being dissed (disrespected) and vengeance is called for.

  13. While we’re on the topic of right v left predictions, the betting website intrade.com has Romney’s chances at 44%, for what it’s worth.

    1. But the chances of the same far-right policies being enacted regardless of whether Romney or Obama wins? 100%. More endless unwinnable foreign wars, more militarization of police, more War on Drugs, more unenforceable unwinnable War against Copyright Infringement, more tax cuts for the top 1%, more impoverishment of the middle class, more jobs shipped overseas courtesy of our wonderful “free trade” policies, more expansion of already near-limitless corporate power, more erosion of the basic rule of law that has served as the basis of civilized societies in the West since the Magna Carta.

      Both Obama and Romney support these policies. Regardless of which one wins this presidential election, we’re going to get more of these policies in the near future.

  14. The Right has lost on touchy-feelie social issues like abortion and gay marriage, and has won decisively in every other area.

    The proof? Policies considered “far left” today by the general public and mainstream media were considered moderately conservative back in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Example 1: the president of the united states trying to shut down an illegal prison (Guantanamo) containing people kidnapped from foreign countries without being charged with a crime and being described as a “far left extremist” and “pro-terrorist.”

    Example 2: the ostensibly “liberal” president of the United States (Barack Obama) praises and puts into practice the long-debunked nonsensical “austerity” economics originally espoused by Herbert Hoover’s secretary of treasury as a solution for our economic downturn — and so-called “liberals” applaud him for regurgitating these provably false pro-top-1% economic canards.

    Example 3: the general population of America today passively accepting the massive militarization of U.S. society, the same way the population of Pinochet’s Chile passively accepted that ever-growing police state or the population of Argentina passively accepted the “Dirty War” and the kidnapping and disappearance of social activists in that country — unlike the 1950s and 1960s in America, when citizens engaged in mass protests and legal challenges in an effort to change the government’s policies (viz., voting rights, the Vietnam war, etc.).

    It seems to me that these three examples, along with many others, show that the Right has already won the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people, from economics to military policy, to federal funding priorities, to acquiescence in the disappearance of the rule of law in America.

    1. I quibble with the notion that the Right “won the hearts and minds,” as though the Right’s ascendancy had to do with a direct appeal to the electorate and the electorate conscientiously meditated on the issues and chose conservatism.

      With our low voter participation rates relative to other democracies, as well as an even lower voter engagement rate (participating in the political process through fundraising, lobbying, membership in a political), much of the electorate’s mind was somewhere else. Where that somewhere else is, I’ll leave that up to you to argue. :>

      Every society carries a certain element of extremism. They are always very small. However, among the larger mainstream population there is a latency toward extremist positions.

      In intractable conflict, each escalation represents a “dam breach” of those latencies. With each breach, extremists grow their numbers and their credibility. Numbers and credibility in turn grow legitimacy.

      Intractable conflict is like a man-made force of nature. And forces of nature don’t win hearts and minds. They happen with or without your consent.

    2. You might easily be right. Most of that went over my head.

      It’s a characteristic of political discussions in America today to quickly zoom into the highly abstract. I suspect this is, like the late phases of Medieval Scholasticism, a symptom of a dying order.

      The right is winning by taking control of the system. I don’t care if their actions are legitimate by some theoretical criteria, or if we’re just too lazy to work the Founders’ political machinery. The result is the same.

      This is victory: Remember the old days, when the GOP and Dems advocated different policies? No longer, since the conservatives won., 5 August 2012.

  15. Jonathan Chait agrees with option “B” listed in this post {last gasp for the GOP in its current form):

    Team Romney White-Vote Push: ‘This Is the Last Time Anyone Will Try to Do This’“, Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine, 27 August 2012 — Opening:

    A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry over Mitt Romney’s birth certificate crack and a potential convention-altering hurricane. The subject was a Ron Brownstein story outlining the demographic hit rates each party requires to win in November. To squeak out a majority, Mitt Romney probably needs to win at least 61 percent of the white vote — a figure exceeding what George H.W. Bush commanded over Michael Dukakis in 1988. The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.

    I wrote a long story last February arguing that the Republican Party had grown intensely conscious of both the inescapable gravity of the long-term relative decline of the white population, and the short-term window of opportunity opened for the party by the economic crisis. I think we’re continuing to see the GOP operate under an integrated political and policy strategy constructed on this premise. This is their last, best chance to win an election in the party’s current demographic and ideological form. Future generations of GOP politicians will have to appeal to nonwhite voters who hold far more liberal views about the role of government than does the party’s current base. …

  16. Something to consider –
    The bicameral congress, tied to the executive branch via party lines only cannot govern this country any longer anyway. We have seen the entire gamut in the last 4 years and what have we to show for it?

    In 2009-2010, Democrats enjoyed super majorty, an Obama White House and a hopeful mandate with the people. The people were suffering from Main St. vs. Wall St. and cultural divides over things like gay marriage and withdraw from Iraq. In that 2 years we saw some very positive signs of liberal (false) agena winning. Then the Mid Term elections taught us that the Right still has much power to win elections.

    In the last 2 years we have seen the opposite, stalemate, stagnation, lies and panic. Not that those things did not occur in the first 2 years, but as a New York Liberal, I just FELT better.

    Now my firm belief is that nothing will work to defraud and remove those making decisions in the high glass tower and telephoning Washington DC to relay their desires.

    With that said, I feel that a second Obama term scares me just slightly more than a republican in the white house. Just bring it on Romney. If they are the same, bring on the guy who will try to behave to get elected in 2016.

    1. I’ll take the other side of that debate. America is well-governed. There is no gridlock. There is a strong and broad bipartisan consensus.

      It’s just not governed in your interest, or mine. It’s run for the benefit of its stakeholders, not the hamsters in the treadmills that drive it.

      Our ruling elites make the two parties agree on the important things. Defense spending bills pass easily. Bills to fuel our wars and constrict civil liberties pass fast and with little debate. Agribiz subsidies, corp subsidies, corp tax breaks — no gridlock.

      Keeping taxes low for the rich? There’s minor debate about how low. Both sides agree on the big picture, which is lower rates than you and I pay.

      I could continue, but that’s probably enough. There are several posts describing this in more detail, listed on the American Politics Reference Page (see the right-side menu bar).

  17. The “Right” is winning, but really “Right” should be replaced by “Rich”. Once upon a time, from between about 1900 to 1960, the rich in all the capitalist countries had a well-founded fear of communist revolution in which they would lose everything. The best weapons available to the common man (a hunting rifle) were more-or-less equal to the best weapons of the military, at least in guerrilla warfare, where cannons are more or less useless. The fear was at it’s peak in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when the success of the Soviets in beating the Nazis made it seem like communism was working. So the rich in that era ceded a huge portion of the economic pie to the working class in order to keep them happy and firmly in the capitalist camp. By the late 1960’s, however, it became clear that communism was not a real threat, and the rich then began their grand plan to take back what they had ceded to the working class, and restore things to their natural state of extreme inequality between rich and poor. And that is where we are heading.

    As for the lamenting, I don’t see any Americans lamenting the huge inequality between middle-class Americans and the starving masses of Bangladesh and Somalia, etc. Are you prepared to see your standard of living collapse so that these poor might eat better? Will you force your children to live on rice and beans (and not much of either) so that Nigerians can have 12 children (I read somewhere that is considered the desirable number of children for a man in that country, in a country that is already overpopulated)? Well, if you didn’t give up your standard of living to any significant degree so that the Third Worlders could improve theirs, then why should the rich give up their standard of living to any significant degree? Should a rich American be taxed so that he can no longer afford 10 cars, just because you think it wrong that he has 10 cars when other Americans have none? Should rich American be taxed to the point where they can’t afford cosmetic surgery, just because some poor American needs basic healthcare to avoid dying? Why? Any more argument for redistribution within America must also hold for redistribution between America and the Third World.

    The only argument that might possibly reach the rich man’s ears is self-interest: by setting up a safety net for all Americans, you prepare for the day you might lose your fortune and become a poor American. That is indeed a good argument, but the rich have a better solution. Namely, set up a safety net that guarantees that rich American don’t lose their fortunes and hence never have to worry about becoming poor Americans. They’re still working on getting this safety net rigged up, but it worked pretty well for a lot of rich people during the financial crisis. Once they get their safety net fully working, they can then eliminate the safety net that applies to the non-rich Americans.

    See “Iron law of Oligarchy”, which you discussed somewhere on this site (I’m poking around randomly).

  18. Oh, forgot to mention. The lower class Republicans (the ones who believe Obama is a Muslim communist foreigner) have read the tea leaves and decided their best hope is a job as something like gamekeeper or security guard or chauffeur working for the rich. The rich are completely stupid, after all. If you want to pass the employment interview, you’ll have to convince them that you really, really, really believe the rich deserve to be rich and the poor deserve to be poor, and tax cuts for the rich are also good for the poor, etc. And the best way to convince them is to actually believe the tripe you’re spouting. Conscious hypocrisy is far more work than simply changing your worldview to match what your future employer wants to hear.

  19. rich are NOT completely stupid (sorry, I do proofread, but errors slip through now and then, this one has a Freudian element, of course)

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