I haven’t been heavily blogging this recently, because I think all the Republican candidates suck. The Republican Party is not what it was 40 years–or even 20 years ago–and it seems to be locked in its own death spiral, where their followers believe what they want to believe, even though reality might be something quite different.
The Quinnipiac poll the other night really drummed it in to me, as the polltaker kept listing the available candidates to choose from. Good Christ! The only half-way decent one was the guy polling 2% who has no shot. (That was Huntsman.) The rest are a big embarrassment.
I know that the Democrats are salivating over the possibility that Newt Gingrich gets the nomination, because he is such an unappealing character. We would be treated to a flaw-a-day campaign–every chance to point out all the ways that Newt Gingrich is not a very nice guy would be one of the things that future Americans remembered about 2012.
How did the Republicans get this bad?
It all goes back to their goofy oaths, and their invented “conservatism” in its contemporary use. It basically goes back to the fact that they became the Party of the South. This is how a group like Move On can take quotes from Abraham Lincoln (the first Republican President, who fought the South) and rub them in the modern party people’s faces.
Why I say invented conservatism, is because today’s Republicans aren’t conservatives in the sense that you keep things the way they are and be skeptical of change. It is conservatism like how Southerners used the term for decades. It is code language to say that you believe there are certain things that should happen in our nation, in society, and if you don’t see these things happening, then you are a “conservative”, who is going to agitate until they do.
I catch the Morning Joe on the internet lately, and it grates everytime former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough says that he is a “conservative”. No, what he is, is a Southerner. Dwight Eisenhower was a conservative. You can argue that Nixon and Ford were conservatives, in that they accepted the New Deal and worked within its framework, but did not seek major expansions.
The Goldwaterites, who married the Jim Crow South to the Republican Party, are not conservatives. They are people whose real brand was very tarnished, and so they need to “re-brand” as something else. Hoover and the Great Depression wrecked whatever appeal the Guilded Era had as to its political philosophies, and television kicked the rock and laid the horror of Jim Crow out for all the public to see.
These two groups found a hero in their Ronald Reagan, who, besides being an actor had also been a spokesman and a salesman. But since Reagan, there has been no new Reagan. And since Reagan, you notice, there has really been no new and dynamic Republican leader in our country. Old man Bush was not. The son was not. Dole was not. McCain was not. And these are mostly really old men.
So the conservative idea that used to hold sway in the GOP as a sentiment or a guidestar, turned in to this Goldwaterite-Jim Crow “conservatism” that basically seeks to re-establish a 21st century peonage society, if not slave society, and where anything that powerful people do is “simply the result of the free market!” Oh, and paying public officials money through their campaign outlets is not bribery. That’s the Republican Party today.
Anti-conservative spending, like farm subsidies, excessive military deployments and wars, Medicare and Social Security to Southerners, etc., is just left off the agenda. (I say “to Southerners”, because if you analyze those programs, you find that the Northeast, Illinois and California pay vastly more in FICA and Medicare tax for what their citizens get back. The Southern states mostly just take. Same goes for the Earned Income Credit.)
So it’s a “conservatism” that wants to keep the money flowing to the lackeys who deliver it votes. It is not real conservatism.
This is how you end up with a Newt Gingrich. This is guy who has, for most of his career, gone into things and knocked them down. Made them less. Made them worse, not better. Taken money–often for services that aren’t really seen as helpful in the final analysis (like being a “historian” for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.)
It is obvious why there is no good Republican, and the problem is really 40 years in the making.