Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Party's Over

John Cole, like many other former Republicans and/or conservatives that have disembarked the Straight Talk Express, sounds sincere enough in his misgivings about the current state of that party/movement. But the problem isn't really that they're out of ideas. They have them, they're just all bad ideas, or ideas put forth on false premises, or the propagation of lies and rage.

Whatever illusions of Lockean or Burkean conservatism the movementarians might have once had in the wake of the Reagan Revolution, those avowed principles have long fallen by the wayside, replaced by strip-mall theosophy and the sort of ideological hackery one expects to find in the North Korean press. The problem is that the most popular promulgators of their compromised philosophy have overcommitted, both in their support for a manifestly failed administration and in their disdain for the cartoonish version of "liberalism" they railed against. They've painted themselves into corners with their comic-book sophistries and strawman arguments, and most of them can't walk it back now.

The people who, right or wrong, were at least operating by a tangible code of principles, have already left, mostly in disgust at what it's all become. I wish I knew what to tell them. On the one hand, when people who can articulate serious principles and goals give up on the vehicle for their cause, that vehicle is going to rapidly devolve into a political Pinto. It has already; one assumes that in the event of an Obama blowout, the internal bloodletting will commence en masse. On the other hand, I can't help but think that at least some of their misgivings revolve not around the depravity and immorality of their most vocal elements, but the failure of those tactics. If those tactics somehow unfortunately resonated with a sufficient amount of people, many of these folks would be fine with it.

The people who posture and preen as professional "conservatives" now are obviously not actual conservatives; they are authoritarians and/or ideological mercenaries, and while it is more of a natural progression than libertarian-minded conservatives would care to admit, it is still a dangerous progression. It has turned the party into the natural habitat of post-John Birch kooks, not-so-closeted racists, and Christianist (as opposed to simply Christian) weirdos, perpetuated by the toxic feedback loop of talk radio ranters and sideshow hucksters. It's an incoherent wad of cryptofascist rhetoric and buzzwords, with very little thought put into how their fever dreams would take hold in our material plane of existence.

They seem to genuinely not understand how overextended the country is, collectively and individually. They think the empire will go on forever, as all marketers for empire have throughout history. They appear to not comprehend the consequences of widening income disparity, of just how close the ordinary people they pretend to identify with are to living in the gutter.

Even in good times, most people live paycheck-to-paycheck, buying toys on a margin that has now been called out from under them. That is a consequence of chronic wage stagnation and widening income disparity -- the natural conclusion of their laissez-faire economic policies. There are no surprises here; these people are either monumentally stupid or breathtakingly cynical.

When the two-party system "works", to the extent that it can given its inherent defects, it does so because the two entities present reasonable counterbalances to each other. That is no longer the case. The Donk is certainly no paragon of steadfastness and competence, but compared to the carnies, draft dodgers, and closet cases on the other side, they're downright statesmanlike.

But it's obviously not healthy to have any one party dominating things for an extended period of time. Right now it's a necessity, because the Republicans have screwed the pooch so utterly, have failed to admit or hold responsible parties accountable, and cannot play well with others. Hopefully by 2012 or 2016 they will have learned how to use their indoor voice again. It's not as ideal as my preferred paradigm of lightly-armed, post-Westphalian, Hanseatic-style regional trading confederations, but it's the moment we're at in our political and cultural evolution.

What the Republicans have in the wake of an electoral thumping is an opportunity to get their shit together, to re-evalute their principles and their approach. But it starts with marginalizing the yahoos that have turned the party into a clown car.


Joe Blow said...

No way no how...

The goopers are going to double down on Palin and go (for) broke. Palin is not going to stay in Alaska because they are going to be "very mean" to her.

I forsee a future of the GOP filled with wankers, wackos and witches.

Fox will employ about 100 people to just make sh*t up above the new administration, thereby making work for legions of bloggers to debunk them.

Heywood J. said...

I think you're right about that, especially in the short run. Most of the Senate and House seats the Dems stand to pick up are more moderate Republicans, leaving the hardcore pukes with their rabble-rousing schtick.

If the corporate wing of the party has any sense, they'll start forcing out the wingnut faction and try to get serious again. The latent fear is that the Dobsonites might bolt for a third party. Good riddance.

I've always thought of the Republican Party as the home for money-grubbing bastards and robber barons. That I understand. I don't get this catering to social regressives. It's become a dead end for them.