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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Of Course It's Not About Health Care

I think in his NYT column this morning Frank Rich is at once a bit over-confident about long-term demographic trends driving a Democratic destiny (the racist notion of a homogeneous cohort of "non-whites" is even less conceptually coherent than the also racist notion of a "white" one, and over the longer term one has to assume that both Democratic and Republican coalitions will change to accommodate the demographic realities Frank rightly documents) as well as a bit under-confident about the short-term (it is everybody's responsibility to reject the violent insurrectionist rhetoric and acts of this extreme right minority of killer clowns and ignorant cowards, very much including our legitimate constituted authorities, not just the responsibility of what passes for the current crop of GOP "leaders" in this hate-media phase of Movement Conservatism). I've got more pointed commentary at the end of my snips, but I do think the whole thing is a good read:
How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht… The... anger... gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare… [T]he health care bill is not the main source of [right-wing] anger and never has been... The real source... is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964… [R]ight-wing extremism… predates the entire health care debate. The first signs were… shrieks of “traitor” … at Palin rallies… Rick Perry’s kowtowing to secessionists... in Texas to the... brandishing of assault weapons at Obama health care rallies… to “You lie!” piercing the president’s address to Congress…. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House -- topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman -- would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority... When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from. ... They can’t. Demographics are avatars of a change bigger than any bill… [B]irths to Asian, black and Hispanic women accounted for 48 percent of all births in America in... 2008. By 2012, the next presidential election year, non-Hispanic white births will be in the minority... [And Rich hasn't even mentioned all the happy white hippies, queers, and race-traitors like me! --d] The Tea Party movement is virtually all white. The Republicans haven’t had a single African-American in the Senate or the House since 2003 and have had only three in total since 1935. Their anxieties about a rapidly changing America are well-grounded. If... Republicans... want to replay the petulant Gingrich government shutdown of 1995… as John McCain has vowed… that’s their right... (and a political gift to the Democrats). But they can’t [?] emulate the 1995 GOP by remaining silent as mass hysteria, some of it encompassing armed militias, runs amok in their own precincts. We know the end of that story… A Quinnipiac poll... found that 74 percent of Tea Party members identify themselves as Republicans or Republican-leaning… [and I daresay many others among them like to fancy themselves "libertarians," which means, as it always does in the US at any rate, that they are de facto Republicans lying to others and possibly to themselves about the fact that they are de facto Republicans --d] After the Civil Rights Act of 1964... responsible leaders in both parties spoke out [against the] violence…. Yet no Republican or conservative leader of stature [?] has taken on Palin, Perry, Boehner... who have been stoking these fires for a good 17 months now… Are these politicians so frightened of offending... the Tea Party-Glenn Beck base that they would rather fall silent than call out its extremist[s]...? [I]f GOP leaders... are afraid of these forces, that’s the strongest possible indicator that the rest of us have reason to fear them too.

Perhaps Rich's framing is a bit cynical here?

Of course, it is possible that today's GOP eminences (who only yesterday were better known as complete idiots -- like McConnell -- and hacks -- like Frum -- and scoundrels -- like Rove) really are afraid of Palin and Beck, but it is surely far more likely that the calculation here is that there is no money or energy anywhere on the right except among the whiny white guys and authoritarian bullies of the Teabagger Express.

Fleecing these erratic rubes for cash in the age of Fox Extremism is really only a reductio of what the conservatives have been doing since frowny-faced Nixon told them white-racist patriarchal corporate-militarism was free enterprise for a "Silent Majority" and smiley-faced Reagan told them inflating a delusive petrochemical and financial bubble via North Sea scraps and deregulatory Ponzi schemes was "Morning in America."

Turning against Palin and Beck would actually mean Republicans have to embark earlier rather than later on that long dark night of the soul in which to be reasonable in a secular multicultural America attuned to planetary media and concerned with planetary problems of the biosphere, poverty, and weapons proliferation finally means to be more like Democrats already are -- and hence to face the old Democratic pickle, why would voters chose a muddled Democratized GOPer when they could have a real Democrat instead?

Sure, they have to redefine themselves eventually -- as Democrats, mind you, have begun to do, too, in the face of p2p-democratization -- but it's not like the GOP has ever really attracted particularly noble or intelligent folks into its fold. It doesn't look so much like fear of their extremes as the usual short-sighted opportunistic greed that keeps GOPers from denouncing their only remaining cash cow in the Teabagger mob.

That mob will turn against them soon enough, you know, when they grasp that Rush and Palin are unelectable and actual governing, even at its Republican worst, won't indulge their squalling inner infants to their satisfaction. Things can get very ugly and tragic here in pampered dumb-dumb America but the Teabaggers can't actually win, that ship has sailed with W's killer clown college. I'm more worried personally about Democratic Party corporatists gaining a decisive upper hand over populists before p2p democratization turns the tide because the Republicans have gone off the deep end and won't siphon off enough of the dumb money grubbers for us to bag them for disposal in time.

1 comment:

jollyspaniard said...

My own personal observation is that there is resentment building across the western world. Conspiracy theories are more popular than ever and pseudo fascist politicians are getting elected in europe. I think there's something a bit more widespread and profound behind this but I'm not sure what it is.