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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The end of the GOP? (Plus: 9/11)

Rush Limbaugh has proclaimed that a Romney loss will mean the end of the GOP. He says...
...that the GOP is not right-enough, that a new, third-party will rise up and embrace right-wing politics, abandoning the Republican party. And he may be right, as polling is indicating that a large part of the Republican base has indeed begun looking elsewhere for their party affiliation. Since polling agencies such as CNN/Gallup and Rasmussen began including 3rd party candidates such as Gary Johnson, Virgil Goode and Jill Stein, Romney’s polling numbers have plummeted.

Limbaugh further explained that conservatives will be held up as scapegoats, that they will be blamed for the failure of a Romney victory.
Also see the Salon story here. Perhaps needless to say, I don't believe any of this.

In the first place, and contrary to most pundits, I think Romney will win this election, since the Republicans have key Secretaries of State "in the bag." In particular, Jon Husted of Ohio seems to be a particularly vile specimen. Am I the only one who recalls 2004?

If, in Ohio, the fix is in, I can't see how Obama has any clear path to victory.

But even if the President does win, the Republican party will endure. I expect the GOP to be alive and thriving long after I'm dead. The purpose of Limbaugh's inflammatory rhetoric is to rile up the troops.

There's a valid point buried beneath Limbaugh's hyperbole. Romney should be winning handily right now, given the many failures of the current administration. I contend that the major factor which has endangered the Mittster's candidacy is the public's discomfort with the extremists who have commandeered his party. The more level-headed Republicans understand that they cannot win if they maintain an implacable opposition to Social Security, Medicare and the minimum wage.

In short and in sum: The rightists have scared the center. The Republicans can't continue to go nuts. They must go moderate.

Are these internecine battles within the conservative movement good news for liberals? Yes, in the short. For example, I feel just peachy about Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson's growing appeal in New Mexico. But if we take a broader view, things look bleaker. As the Republican party morphs into the Ayn Rand Party, the Democrats are fast becoming the new Republicans. And not just on the issue of national security. Michael Lind's must-read piece reminds us that Obama and Romney are both supply-siders, albeit different kinds of supply-siders:
The Obama administration made halfhearted efforts to explain and promote this demand-side agenda and its policy prescriptions. But again and again, Obama and the Democrats settled for a victory on the terms set by Republican obstructionists in Congress rather than risk the defeat of plans that could actually have worked. The stimulus was half the size that Obama’s own economic adviser Christina Romer argued that it should be, half of it was wasted on tax cuts and even that inadequate stimulus was largely neutralized by state and local budget cuts that shrank the economy. Mortgage relief policies have been too little and too late. And the administration’s talk a few years back about doubling exports rings hollow, in the face of its acquiescence in the mercantilist policies of China and other nations that subsidize their industries at the expense of our own.

There is more to this Democratic unwillingness to push demand-side policies than fear of Republican obstruction. The truth is that the post-Clinton Democrats are a post-Keynesian — or rather, a pre-Keynesian — party. Between the administrations of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, the lessons that New Deal liberals had learned from the Great Depression about demand-side economics were unlearned. The “New Democrats” of the last three decades adopted a completely new economic orthodoxy: supply-side liberalism.
Lind defines "supply-side liberalism" as the belief that investment in education and innovation will cure all evils. This contention is absurd:
The economy did not collapse in 2008 because the job market suddenly required a much more educated workforce.  Nor did the economy collapse in 2008 because technological innovation suddenly dried up in the fall of that year.  It collapsed because a financial panic, triggered by the demise of Lehman Brothers, created a classic financial panic, resulting in a sharp drop in spending by consumers who were suddenly worried about keeping their jobs and paying down their overhanging debts.
What cures all evils is an increasing number of gummint-created jobs: Teachers, firemen, road workers, bridge builders. If such people have secure paychecks, they will spend their money on goods and services, which will create demand, which will lead to more private-sector hiring.

Obama has made a few stabs at demand-side solutions -- his Jobs Act was certainly a good idea. (And therefore doomed.) But you can't be a Keynesian leader in a country that still views Keynesianism as heresy.

Well, let's walk that one back a bit: Mitt Romney might be able to pull off that trick. There are strong indications that he wants to heal the economy via military Keynesianism. (That's how Reagan did it.) But the Libertarian faction within his party demands less defense spending, and Romney can't expect Democrats to help him enact an unnecessary massive arms build-up.

Even though Romney may have a slightly better chance of implementing a Keynesian solution, and even though there is little chance of a robust recovery in a second Obama administration, I still strongly believe that Romney must be opposed. Why? First and foremost, we must consider the Supreme Court. Overturning the Citizens United decision is of paramount importance, and that goal will become impossible if Romney packs the court with seven Scalia clones. Then there's the abortion issue. Although previous Republican presidents gave little more than lip service to overturning Roe-v-Wade, things are different now. If Romney wants to be re-elected, he will have to follow the directives of his Tea Party masters.

Beyond all of that, of course, is the looming threat of war with Iran. As faulted as Obama may be, I honestly do not think he wants another major war on his watch (other than those quietly horrific drone attacks). Romney, by contrast, clearly yearns to unleash hell.

Let's return this essay to our starting point. Yes, Limbaugh is wrong, but not entirely so. If Romney falls, the Republicans will have to do a lot of soul-searching and self-definition. But so will the Democrats -- whether or not Obama wins.

Liberals must stop thinking in terms of personalities and parties; we need to start waging ideological battle. No future Democratic president will have the political space to function as a Democrat if supply-side economics remains America's unalterable bipartisan orthodoxy.

A note on 9/11. Yesterday morning, I awoke with the intention of writing a commemoration of the tragedy. Ultimately, I decided not to do so.

Why? Because this blog -- for whatever reason -- attracts more than its share of "bombs in the buildings" fanatics. Over the years, those creeps have given me almost as much grief as they've given Matt Taibbi and Daniel Hopsicker.

I stopped printing their comments years ago, but that policy hasn't staunched the flow of irate messages from paranoid pin-heads. They routinely decry my "censorship." To the contrary: They have censored me, and they've imposed a form of censorship on a lot of other bloggers as well. No writer can bring up that tragedy in any way (let alone discuss the many genuine mysteries surrounding the events of that day) without inviting an endless, endless, endless stream of zealots into the hall to screech about all sorts of long-discredited pseudoscientific nonsense. I refuse to spend the rest of my life saying the same damned words to the same damned ninnies about the same damned theories.

And so, years ago, I stopped talking about 9/11 altogether. Nevertheless, on this day -- and perhaps against my better judgment -- I feel compelled to break my policy of omerta in order to make an important point. It's a rather complex point, so bear with me.

For decades, the fringe rightists (by which I mean the Birchers and cognate paranoids) have sought to subvert and recruit ingenuous young folk who might otherwise drift leftwards. Usually, the extremists go about this task by offering conspiracy theories which seem, on first glance, to be fascinating and persuasive. That's the candy these political child molesters use to lure kids into the car.

The CD scenario represents the far right's most impressive effort to seduce the gullible. During the 2004-2007 period, when the "controlled demolition" theory became immensely popular with pseudo-hip naifs who didn't like Bush, most observers could not understand what was really going on. Many formed the mistaken impression that liberals originated the CD theory. A lot of people still think so.

That's not true -- at least, not in the United States. (In Europe, the theory followed a rather different political trajectory.)

The CD theory originated on the date of the tragedy -- September 11, 2001 -- in a post written by David Rostcheck, a Libertarian gun rights activist. His work was soon carried on by a fellow named Peter Meyer, another libertarian, and Jared Israel, a former SDS-er who became still another libertarian. In America, the most prominent minister of the CD gospel has always been Alex Jones, who is nobody's idea of a lefty. (His philosophy might best be described as a mixture of Texas-style fundamentalism, free-form paranoia and Libertarianism.) His comrades in crankishness include such luminaries as Jason Bermas, Eric Hufschmid, the clowns behind the Zeitgeist film, Christopher Bollyn and a host of similarly-minded reactionary wackos. Quite a few Ron Paul enthusiasts -- though not Paul himself -- are also 9/11 "truthers." Many, though not all, of the aforementioned individuals hail from the anti-Semitic faction of the extreme right.

Perhaps I should expand upon that last point. Although I cannot stand Jones and Bermas, I don't think that they are anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. But I do classify them as right-wingers, even if they claim to be above or beyond or outside that label. The record shows that the CD theory is most closely associated with Libertarians of various stripes. Although the Libertarian movement is not monolithic, I contend that Libertarians are always locatable on the right, even though they often pretend otherwise.

How did these Libertarians and quasi-Nazis and neo-Birchers and other far-right fringe-dwellers manage to dupe so many naive young liberals? Part of the answer has to do with the fact that our educational system has become really, really shitty. But a larger part of the answer derives from the fact that the CD theorists targeted George W. Bush. If you grew up seeing politics only in the traditional terms of Republican-vs-Democrat, you had no way of knowing that the Bush family has always had foes on their right.

Moral of the story: The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.
Remember November of 2006? Remember how the Republicans were dead, dead, dead, buried, and would never rise again? And that was from the left.

I agree with you that Rush is rousing the troops.

Carolyn Kay
Let me propose a slogan for a uniquely american fascism. I suggest

"One realm, out of many peoples, with one leader"

Combining some old european slogan with the old e pluribus unum.

I think American fascism will give a clear proof of the idea of American exceptionalism. Other people's fascism always ends badly. But American fascism will be fascism that everyone can love. From Pathan tribesmen to American trades unions!

I been telling people to watch the Bush in the school room scene in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. I tell them he has that deer in the headlights look because he knew an attack was imminent but not one that horrific. Then I ask them since Bush used 911 to invade Iraq and we know Romney wants to go into Iraq, what terror attack will he allow?

I figure I might as well use republican tactics since reason won't work.
I don't think it's fair to accuse Alex Jones of "Texas style fundamentalism". Isn't he a Mormon? "Utah style fundamentalism".
Let me add my .02 cents to the Dark Side;

We need a Benevolent Dictator. Since that has the same probability as finding the Philosopher's Stone, perpetual motion machines, and free-of-obligation sex, I say
we're Doomed.

Joseph...fine, I may have missed it. Please bear with people trying to manage their lives and keep up.

Where do you get this idea you keep reiterating that Romney wants war?

Romney, like all Mormons, wants to mainstream their cult. That I get. It's why the freak, in order to become governor of Mass., posed shirtless on the beach to prove that Mormons weren't all nutcases in magic onesies to deter masturbation.

Even if you provide a quote, have you followed Mittwit for any length of time? He just says whatever whenever to promote the Mormons are not freaks cause. Then flip-flops as needed. Yeah, they hate blacks and women and gays, but international war? Not in their prime directive that I've ever seen.

Please do more than hammer that point. Reference it. Back it up. Repeatedly as necessary. Thanks.

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