A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Way back when George Dubya was still compassionate, I predicted that the Democrats would take a veer to the left. The ensuing liberal civil war would create a political vacuum in the centre and the Republicans would naturally slide on over and dominate American politics for the foreseeable future. I was wr-wr-wr, not right. 9/11 came along, Dubya got trigger happy and suddenly it was Hope and Change that was priming the political pumps. Whatever else you want to say about President Obama (and I’ve said a bunch) he’s a dynamic centrist and while he and Hillary are staking out the high ground in the middle, it’s the Republicans who are going nuts. The war is on in the GOP, and it looks as if it’s going to end up in a loser-take-all victory for the raging right. Never, in the history of human politics, have so many been so screwed, so thoroughly by so few.
Shutting down the American government, just because you can, is such a willful act of childishness that I refuse to give it any room in a reasonable discussion. Who the hell do you people think you are? You have one job – One Job! – to ensure that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. And what do you do? You shut it down. No wonder you’re getting outwitted by the clowns at the New York Times. And this isn’t just a rant about those Tea Party nitwits, either. John Boehner, you need to give up being a full time cry baby and get your people in line. You’re plucking your bum in the same chair that Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neill sat in. The least you could do is look the part. But enough about that. The American government has survived worse than Ted Cruz and his motley crew, and serious people have bigger fish to fry.
Here’s the deal. The Republican Party has been hijacked by a bunch of folks who obviously flunked out of Political Science, quite possibly as far back as kindergarten. In an absolute tour de force of WTF logic, they’ve decided that the reason Mitt Romney didn’t make it to the White House is because he wasn’t conservative enough. So, in order to rebalance the equation, they’ve launched themselves on an epic flight to the far distant political right. Presumably, this is because, despite a century of voting records to the contrary, they believe America wants, needs and deserves a conservative government that lands just short of wearing a tinfoil hat. While no one would suggest America is a hotbed of socialism, this kind of thinking is seriously delusional. However, don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look.
In 2012, Romney lost the election by five million votes. That’s four percent; not a lot by presidential election standards. Historically, presidential losers get their asses kicked. However, those five million votes are significant because they come from the political middle. Like every election since Pericles ran for Afentiko of Athens, Presidential 2012 was an electoral Bell Curve. The ideologically committed left and right wing voters anchor both ends of the political spectrum, and the great wad of the rest of us is stuck in the middle. President Obama remained President Obama because he won more of those middle votes than Romney did. Push Romney to the right, the far right or nothing but the right so help him God, and he wouldn’t have gained a single vote! However, push him to the middle and he might have started siphoning votes off Obama’s juggernaut. It’s not impossible: Ronald Reagan did it (twice) and two or three percentage points is not a lot to ask. It could have been that simple. Now, it’s becoming way more difficult.
The Tea Party and their ideological wannabes have seriously damaged the Republican Party. First of all, they’re singing to the choir. I haven’t heard of one Democrat who changed his (or her) mind over Tea Party policies. Secondly, their song is nonsense. Their only message is “Obama’s being mean to me.” — the political equivalent of “Louie, Louie” on a loop. But finally, and most importantly, they’re singing so loud nobody else can get a word in edgewise. They’ve taken centre stage, and whatever good stuff Republicans might have to say is getting lost in the godawful noise.
Moderate Republicans need to quit being scared of these yo-yos and get organized. They need to take back the primaries and start finding candidates who will be electable beyond the Barack Obama era. (He’s going to go home, you know.) But more than that, they need to tell guys like Ted Cruz to stick a sock in it and either lead, follow or get out of the way. Otherwise, people like me are going to be looking at Hillary in 2016.