Monday, April 27, 2009

Republican War Lords

Carpetbagger has a post on how Republican moderates are trying to push the party in a new direction, away from hardline culture war positions; while the base refuses to budge.  And frankly, this couldn't make me happier.  Ok, well, I suppose I'd be happier if all these fools completely gave-up on their bigotry and puritanical panty-sniffing; but short of that, I'm glad to see these fools continue to push the party further into obscurity.

But the base isn't to blame for this.  The blame lies with political cowardice on the part of the party leaders.  They just don't have anyone willing to stand up to these people.  Because the short-term choice is easy: Either pander to the base and score easy points, or stick their necks out and get their heads blasted off.  And there just aren't enough Republicans willing to join forces and give the proper pushback that these people need, and whenever the rare Republican tries, they're forced to recant and join the cowards.

And that's a lousy long-term strategy.  But they just don't have enough leaders willing to put themselves in front of the mob and make them listen to reason.  As long as the base is being fed what they want to hear, that's all they're going to hear.

Control Freaks

And in this case, "reason" doesn't necessarily mean making them accept gay marriage or anything.  It just means for them to lower their expectations.  They've been trounced in two straight national elections, a key presidential election, and they're doing badly at the state level too.  Common sense says that they can't be expected to achieve much in the short-term, so they need to lower their expectations and try to reach out to a broader base.  

But the base just doesn't want to do that.  The more they lose elections, the crazier they're getting.  And the truth is that the culture war never had much to do with moral stances or "murdered babies" and porn.  It had to do with them drawing their line in the sand in order to bring some level of "sanity" to their lives, which seem to be spiraling out of control.  They demand that everyone follow their moral code because that's a lot easier than them trying to make sense of their own lives. 

And the problem is that the modern world is just too complex for the simplistic moral tools they were given to work with and nothing makes sense to them anymore.  And rather than accept reality and try to have a sensible stance on teenage sex (an issue I, as a father of teens, find extremely hard to deal with), they're told to go further down the rabbithole of abstinence-only and praying to a god that just doesn't seem willing to help them deal with it.  Yet, not only are those solutions useless, they will blow up in your face if it's all your using.  And that's exactly what these people keep facing, to their constant dismay.

Downward Spiral

And so the more they lose elections, the more out of control they feel and the more control they require.  And that just pushes them even further in the wrong direction.  And the further out they feel, the more desperate their actions become; which leads to crazy stuff like aimless "tea parties," increased gun purchases, and talk of rebellion.  And for as much as they all have their particular laundry lists of grievances, it all comes down to a general sense that life is too crazy for them to deal with.  They really expected a "silent majority" of like-minded Americans to rise up on Election Day and the realization that they're a tiny powerless minority is really starting to freak them out.

But there is an answer to this.  Republican leaders can push back and at least insist that the base de-escalates its rhetoric and allows some moderation back into the party.  But there just isn't anyone powerful enough in the party to do it, because the base already pushed out all the moderates who weren't already milking the base for their own personal gain.  And so the people who are willing to push back have no support, while the people who have the support see all this as a huge win for them.  

Someone like Limbaugh would rather be King of the Kooks than just another Republican foot soldier.  He has more power this way.  And because the party allowed this to continue for so long, the only way of gaining support is to give the crazies what they want.  As soon as a potential party leader like Palin or Jindal appears on the national horizon, they're forced to adopt crazytalk or be pushed back into the obscurity they came from; which means a true leader will never be allowed to succeed.  And this just isn't going to change for many, many years.  

Were the Republican Party its own country, they'd be considered a failed state.  The individual war lords might still be working in tandem when it suits their interests, but behind the curtain, they're just a loose-knit alliance of small fiefdoms.  And the moment one "leader" attempts to establish true party unity is the moment he's attacked by all the other war lords.  I see no solution to this as long as the current war lords remain in charge and the system is heavily rigged in their favor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Republicans seem to have the same problem with their base that Dr. Frankenstein had with that project he was working on. Oh well, 40 years in the wilderness won't seem so long.