Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the bitter rump

the GOP has a problem:

actually, the GOP has several problems, all of which are converging at a painful nexus, one infested by a septic stew of birthers, tea-baggers and all manner of anti-government fringe cranks.

after decades of courting racism and jingoism (e.g., anti-affirmative action, anti-immigration, anti-united nations), religious fundamentalism and anti-intellectualism (e.g. anti-abortion, creationism, intelligent design), anti-science (e.g., global warming denialism, anti-stem cell research), anti-tax (tax cuts) and arms fetishism (anti-gun control), the republican base has become distilled into an intolerant and intolerable rump that is driving its party into permanent minority status. and to think that it was their drive for a permanent republican majority, marrying their infamous southern strategy with the evangelical movement, that brought them to this bitter end.

the base was only supposed to be a naive but eager and steady supply of votes, dollars and sweat. they were never actually expected to hijack the plane.

the GOP's first problem is the fact that demographics are against them. the republican base is growing older and therefore shrinking in number while independents and democrats are younger and growing. in fact, the intolerant attitude of the rump is driving even more out of the fold and into the arms of their rivals. those remaining represent guaranteed votes but not enough for a electoral success. the GOP needs new voters but the rump are a jealous lot, demanding embarrassing and off-putting public reassurances of devotion every time the party makes overtures to anyone outside the base. it was a problem that john mccain tried to solve using sarah palin. that worked well.

the second problem is simple denial. republicans like david frum and brink linsey, who are willing to admit that it'll take more than an elusive marketing pitch to get them out of their ditch, are becoming equally elusive. as far as the rump is concerned, the GOP has no need to change; it just needs a shamwow guy to polish off the gospel of reagan for them and the sheep country will happily buy.

we’re in the mode where we welcome everybody to the party. what i don’t want to do, in the course of trying to expand the overall size of the republican party and expand our base, is to talk away from basic fundamental principles. i think it’s very important that we remind people out around the country what it is that we stand for, that we do believe in a strong national defense, in low taxes and limited government; and giving up on those principles, in order to try to appeal to people who are otherwise going to vote democratic, seems to me is a — would be a fundamental defeat for those of us who are essentially conservative, who’ve been long-time supporters of the republican party.

we don’t have to pander to minorities, but we have to make our principles attractive to them. i don’t understand why some folks get so worked up about this. look at the GOP’s rising stars: palin, jindal and cantor.

"all you moderates out there, y'all come. i mean, that's the message," steele said at a news conference. "the message of this party is this is a big table for everyone to have a seat. i have a place setting with your name on the front.

"understand that when you come into someone's house, you're not looking to change it. you come in because that's the place you want to be."

this is not a message that says: "welcome aboard! what can we do for you?"

it says: "get in the back and push!"

hurry before the line gets too long ...

republicans are unwilling to face the bitter truth that, after iraq and katrina and the mortgage meltdown and banking bailouts, they have zero credibility. zilch. bupkis. so when they trot out an 18-page so-called economic "plan" and a 4-page so-called health care "plan" with a few pictures and no numbers as "solutions", they only validate the decision to abandon them.

house republicans presented a four-page outline of their health care reform plan wednesday but said they didn’t know yet how much it would cost, how they would pay for it and how many of the nearly 50 million americans without insurance would be covered by it.

the GOP has an unpleasant choice that they can delay forever but not avoid if they want out of the wilderness. if they want a party that's growing again, they're going to have to purge the rump, which means giving up some of those guaranteed but radioactive votes in order to spend necessary time building a new and more attractive coalition.

is that choice any more unpleasant than being stalked by certificate-waving birthers?

"there is an old fable," said hardin, "as old perhaps as humanity, for the oldest records containing it are merely copies of other records still older, that might interest you. it runs as follows:

"a republican horse having a democrat wolf as a powerful and dangerous enemy lived in constant fear of permant minority status his life. being driven to desperation, it occurred to him to seek as strong ally. whereupon he approached a christian fundamentalist man, and offered an alliance, pointing out that the wolf was likewise an enemy of the man. the man accepted the partnership at once and offered to kill the wolf immediately, if his new partner would only co-operate by placing his greater speed at his disposal. the horse was willing, and allowed the man to place bridle and saddle upon him. the man mounted, hunted down the wolf, and killed him.

"the horse, joyful and relieved, thanked the man, and said: 'now that our enemy is dead, remove your bridle and saddle and restore my freedom.'

"whereupon the man laughed loudly and replied, 'the hell you say. giddy-ap, dobbin,' and applied the spurs with a will."

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