Though the GOP remains the “party of business” in its policies, its outreach to economic populists and neo-secessionist states rightists has created a coalition that includes groups that are openly hostile to Wall Street and other economic elites, that see the Federal Reserve, for example, as a critical node of the Jewish conspiracy. This is an idea that goes all the way back to the Fed’s founding in 1913; it was trumpeted by conspiracy theorists like Henry Ford in the 1920s and the Republican Congressman Louis McFadden in the 1930s; it even played a role in Richard M. Nixon’s thinking, though he was more of a classic paranoid than a conspiracy theorist.
The GOP’s alliance with the Christian right has brought premillennial dispensationalists into its fold—people who believe that the world is not only coming to an end, but that the sooner civil order breaks down, the sooner Jesus will return. Dominionists like Ted Cruz’s father, who believe that the U.S. government should be run on a biblical basis, are increasingly prominent in the GOP. As believers in the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11), it’s not surprising that fundamentalists would be especially susceptible to conspiracy theories.
For more, go to The Washington Spectator.
“If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.” –Federalist #10
Unless, of course, it does–right out in the open, while pundits carefully apportion equal measures of blame to both sides.
Watergate was a crisis, but it wasn’t a Constitutional crisis; the system ultimately purged itself. This time, I don’t know.
This is what happens when a political party makes common cause with militias, neo-Fascists, Christian Dominionists, Ayn Rand libertarians, and neo-Confederates, with people who hate government, disdain diversity, and love guns–and who really do believe that the sooner the blood starts flowing in the streets, the sooner they’ll get their Hobbesian paradise and/or the second coming of Christ.
Ironic, isn’t it, that for all the hate talk about Obama’s treasonousness, it’s finally the Congress that is openly and blatantly seditious? Ironic that our first African American president would have to deal with challenges that are literally Lincolnesque. All of that rhetoric about how Obama’s election meant the end of the Republic may just be coming true.
Amazing, really. I’m sort of thunderstruck.
First, I grabbed this picture of Cruz from this very cogent Salon article by Brian Beutler. Doesn’t he look like a silent movie villain? Here’s Beutler’s money quote: “Boehner and other Republican leaders never wanted a government shutdown at all. They know a shutdown hurts people and that the political cost to them will likely be severe. But now they’re in it, they don’t think they can embarrass themselves by folding…It’s a monstrous application of the sunk cost fallacy.”
Or maybe it’s cognitive dissonance. Leon Festinger’s classic WHEN PROPHECY FAILS notes that cultists often redouble their proselytizing activities when their beliefs are publicly disconfirmed–provided that they held them sincerely and, most important, that sufficient social support is available, that they are a part of a community of confirmed true believers.
Second, though it’s usually conspiracists that accuse the government of “manufacturing crises,” this time around it’s the right that’s conjured one, and it’s no “false flag.” The scariest thing, though, is that a lot of them don’t seem to realize what they’re playing with–they actually think this is just political theater. Here’s Michael Reagan:
I don’t care if the United States government goes bankrupt for a few months. It’s no big deal in the long run. Congress will just pass another continuing resolution to fund government.
Then, two months later, when the debt ceiling is raised by Congress, as it always is, everyone who’s owed money by the federal government will be paid retroactively and it will be business as usual until the next debt “crisis.”
I was just on the radio saying how back in the good old days of the nuclear standoff, everybody knew what the worst case scenario was and nobody wanted to test it. When it came down to it with Cuba, both sides backed away from the brink.
But that wasn’t strictly true, even back then. Remember those Reagan era Dr. Strangeloves who argued that tactical nuclear wars were “winnable”–and that civil defense could make it possible to survive a first strike with acceptable casualty levels? Think about that the next time you read about how a default won’t be that bad. God may not play dice with the universe but there are a lot of people who would if they got the chance. And they just might, in a matter of days.
Right wingers are very big on the fact that the US is a Republic, not a Democracy (states rights and all) and of course they are correct–constitutionally, only half of one branch of the federal government was directly elected (thanks to the 17th Amendment, both legislative houses are today). Collectively, the rural, low-population, net-taker states have as much or more say over the direction of the country than backwaters like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and so on, even if their influence these days derives mostly from their willingness to figuratively hold their breath till they turn blue–or threaten to blow us all up with government shutdowns and debt limit brinksmanship. But what kills me, is how when push comes to shove, these gerrymandered representatives of a privileged few address their appeals to the “people.”
Here’s Ted Cruz, during his faux filibuster the other night:
“All across this country Americans are suffering because of ObamaCare. ObamaCare isn’t working. Yet fundamentally there are politicians in this body who are not listening to the people. They are not listening to the concerns of their constituents, they are not listening to the jobs lost or the people forced into part-time work, to the people losing their health insurance, to the people who are struggling.
Never mind that Obamacare hasn’t been rolled out yet, or that it’s a subsidy to insurance companies that was conceived by the Heritage Foundation and carried to term by Mitt Romney. Despite dozens of efforts, the People’s House has failed to marshal enough votes to abolish it and Mitt Romney, who’d promised to smother his spawn in the cradle, was defeated by the popular vote and the electoral college.
If Obamacare stands, Cruz says, then ipso facto “the people” have no voice–the people being the people whose opinions really matter, whose votes really count. Cruz refers over and over again to the groundswell of 1.6 million who signed a petition deploring Obamacare. It sort of begs the question about the 61 million who voted for Obama in 2012, doesn’t it?
Not really. The National Review’s David French applauds Cruz’s efforts, precisely because he represents a minority position:
How many of our key institutions have been transformed through the sheer force of will expressed by a passionate minority? People with conviction dictate the terms of debate, transform the decision-making paradigm of even the largest entities, and lay the groundwork for larger cultural transformation. This work is rarely, if ever, done with majority support but instead at the urging of the most committed, most dedicated, and most vocal.
“This is a Republic, not a Democracy. Let’s keep it that way!” the John Birch Society’s Robert Welch famously declared. Of course if real patriotic Americans are so inalterably opposed to Democracy, then why all these appeals to the people?
To fool the people, of course.
“Obamacare is the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed in Congress,” Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana said recently. “It is the most existential threat to our economy” that the country has seen “since the Great Depression.”
Interestingly enough, Fleming is an ardent believer in American Exceptionalism–a sentiment which Obama’s enemies accused him of lacking in (until his September 10 speech and Putin’s rejoinder).
It is Fleming’s belief in Exceptionalism, in fact, that drives his opposition to Obamacare, according to this Facebook post from a year ago:
The media and the left want to slice and dice this country, not only into demographic slivers but according to many different “interest” groups. Part of American exceptionalism has always been that Americans consider themselves to be Americans first, then male, female, class, etc. second. The other important part of American exceptionalism to be noted is that unique to America, you can (and many often do) move up or down from one class to another based on effort. Media and liberals would have you believe that you are born into your “class” and remain there the rest of your life. This has never been true, that is until now. Under Obama, there are 23 million Americans unable to find opportunity.
Amazing to realize that the American dream came to a crashing halt in 2008, when Obama was inaugurated. Of course, without health insurance, people still have the freedom to move down.
For Goldwag completists only, my Washington Spectator piece on the NY primary.
Victory creates an ex post facto sense of inevitability, so it’s worth remembering how unlikely Bill DeBlasio’s win seemed just a few months ago, when Quinn was still thought to be Bloomberg’s anointed successor. Last spring, I went to a forum at New York Law School where all the candidates except Weiner (who hadn’t announced yet) were present. I was dumbstruck by how dull and tentative Thompson seemed and how grating and full of herself Quinn was. DeBlasio, on the other hand, seemed smart, confident, and knowledgeable, and for a guy reporters often call “professorial,” he was notably lacking in condescension. The only thing missing was the sense that voters might actually gravitate towards him. But–and in a world in which an all-present media never stops telling us what we are thinking and feeling it’s important to keep this in mind–sometimes the conventional wisdom is completely wrong.
For all his schoolmarmishness and thin skin, Bloomberg really has been a more-than-competent mayor in many ways. But while running a city for the benefit of the very rich might be a winning strategy for economic development (some income does trickle down), it has a way of alienating voters eventually–especially after you bought yourself an extra term.
Think about it: the average rent on a NYC apartment surged past $3000 this summer. The city’s per capita income, on the other hand, was $31,796; its median household income just $56,951. To point that out isn’t to engage in class warfare–it’s simply to acknowledge the truth. If the people in the media and the center left establishment didn’t make so much money themselves (and more importantly, answer to people who make even more), they would have seen the writing on the wall.
I’m guessing that the next phase of the election will be fought over some out-of-context thing that DeBlasio said 20 years ago about sex, drugs, Israel, Muslims, or some other hot-button cultural issue. I don’t know what else the Republicans will have to throw at him, but they’re going to have a hard time winning the white blue collar votes that put Giuliani and Koch over the top, because when a Democrat talks about soaking the rich today, the working class no longer thinks they’re talking about them. And when a Republican appeals to the middle class, they know they’re really reaching out to the rich.