A GOP long dominated by neocons and libertarians made a deal with the devil in 2010 to recapture the House of Representatives and hamstring a hugely-popular President Barack Obama.
The same strange bedfellows took back the Senate two years later, even as Obama handily won reelection against a central casting Republican ticket, taking the baton from the post-Nixon “conservatives” who spent forty years breaking government and demonizing “liberals” even as they held steady the corporate-friendly “center” and stifled economic progress in the interests of anemic, though vitally important, social advances.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t the best way to inspire new generations of voters.
The unintended consequences of doubling-down on dragging the Republican Party further right is an equal and opposite reaction looking to push the Democratic Party hard to the left. Bernie Sanders nearly pulled off a huge upset victory in the 2016 primaries, before the #MeToo and #NeverAgain movements energized younger voters to engage the fight for progress via the ballot box. While primary turnout for the 2018 midterms remains basically unchanged, there has been a noticeable uptick in participation on the left.
What this change in tone means has yet to be determined, but the 2018 general election is sure to deliver many shocks and surprises to the leadership of both parties.
That’s not what this blog is about, however. What is most striking about the Republican Party’s internecine warfare as it’s plays out on MSNBC and CNN and other mainstream media outlets is what’s not being said. The goalposts moved again. The “moderate republicans” who are in an apoplexy about Trumpian politics seem immune to the fact that nothing the current GOP is doing from a policy perspective is substantially different from the strategies they pursued over the last 40 years since Nixon broke the party.
Likewise, the Democratic Party still hyperventilates over the Republican Party and Trump while ignoring the fact that the last “liberal” to lead the party was Jimmy Carter. For all his positive attributes, Barack Obama is to the right of Eisenhower. The party he led pursued very corporate-friendly policies (ACA anyone?) while expending all their political capital on social justice issues that led to further partisan warfare, fixing the surface appearance of equality while ensuring millions more Americans fell into economic ignominy.
The talking heads on cable news never talk about the objective truth. It’s all Bread & Circus, all the time. The partisan political fight is much more important than the sum of its parts. The first sad casualty in this partisan war playing out on television is the truth. That’s not to say there is complete lack of truth in mainstream media. It’s just presented alongside straight-up lies as if they held equal weight. Depending on the viewer’s own political leaning, the second casualty of this war is a simple understanding of objective reality.
This blog isn’t about the media, either. It’s about how one of our major political parties was hijacked by extremist, anti-government radicals. The last person in America who should be charged with running government is the person who believes it is unnecessary. Worse still are the people who believe it is a detriment to our lives. This is the guiding philosophy of most Republican politicians at the local, state and federal levels. The “private sector” can do no wrong and the “public sector” can do no right.
The GOP has been winning with that cynical message for decades, so ultimately it is “conservative” voters (and non-voters of whatever political description) who are to blame for our falling stature in the world and plunging metrics at home. The Democratic Party has basically become the Republican Party of Nixon’s day in an effort to shore up the middle. That leaves political and social progress a distant third in priority. The results of that American political paradigm are obvious to anyone with the objectivity to look at the data rather than the detritus.
We The People need to take a severe round-turn on our understanding of government and politics. We need to better process the results of the latter dominating and polluting the former. My “enemy” must lose for my “side” to win. Pyrrhic victories for everyone!
Bah. A pox on both our houses.