*A little lower. More to the left. Oh yeah, that feels good.
Anyway, I have a interest in the workings of politics which is like having an interest in the genocide run of Undertale: you know it's gonna be gruesome but you just gotta look.*
*Hell yeah, I name checked Undertale! Who says I don't have my finger on the pulse of today's young people? And "finger on the pulse" is a metaphor. If you thought otherwise, you're just weird.
Of particular fascination to me is the suicide run of the Republican Party with it's clown car full of presidential candidates, none of whom I would trust to be president of a high school checkers club.*
*Is there such a thing as a checkers club? I hope so because these bozos couldn't handle chess. By the way, notice that I referenced "high school". It's all about the young people. They are our future.
But if the candidates for the Republican nomination for President seem like that can't find their own asses with both hands behind them with a flashlight, perhaps its owes to the party having no fucking clue as to what they want. 48.5% of the party wants to cut taxes for rich people and talk about bombing the shit out of things. Another 48.5% just wants to keep out all the Mexicans and the Muslims while actually bombing the shit out of things. That leaves 1% to actually have a lick of sense about how things should work and what political conservatism really means. However I should point out my estimates have a +/- 3 point margin of error and also I just made that shit up*
*To the young people, I know all those numbers sound like math and you hate math. Sorry. On the other hand, notice I tossed in "fucking" and "shit" so you know I'm keepin' it real.
There was an article in Sunday's New York Times which you can read if you click here or you can follow along with my shorter and sometimes funnier overview.
The article starts with this premise: "The Republican Party is facing a historic split over its fundamental principles and identity, as its once powerful establishment grapples with an eruption of class tensions, ethnic resentments and mistrust among working-class conservatives who are demanding a presidential nominee who represents their interests."
OK, working-class conservatives, what are your interests?
In a struggling economy with an aging population, you might be concerned about, I don't know, rising health costs? I mean, it's a concern to me both personally (I don't want to go bankrupt to be kept alive) and for our nation (increasing health care costs are a drag on our economy). Yet when President Obama started to get the ball rolling on health care reform, the Republican leadership said "Oh hell no!" and convinced you working-class conservatives that Obama and the Democrats were going to kill your grandmothers, replace your family doctor with a veterinarian and make you wait 6 weeks to treat a hang nail.
I'm not saying that the health care reform that came to be called Obamacare was perfect. Far from it. For example, the computer program created to run the plan? A Playskool Speak 'n' Spell had more sophisticated software.*
*"The cow says 'Mooooooooo'." When I was little,I would play with my Speak 'n' Spell all day. Because it would talk to me. It was my only friend. Nowadays, we don't get to talk as often as we used to.
But I believe health care reform is vital to us as individuals and as a country. And when it came time to do something about it, half of the political power in the US Congress chose to sit this one out. Even when Obama's reform plan contained many provisions that had been promoted by Republicans in the past. Down in the southern United States, you know, the red states where working-class conservatives consistently vote Republican, too many people are still gobsmacked by the loss of manufacturing jobs so keeping health care costs in check would be very much in the interest of those working-class conservatives. But no, you came out in droves in the summer heat to shout down any attempt at health care reform.
So, working-class conservatives, I ask again, what are your interests?
Apparently those issues are "opposition to immigration, worries about wages and discomfort with America’s fast-changing demographics".
Here's a quote from the Times article from Leo Martin, a 62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., who attended a Donald Trump rally. “The Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me, even though we’ve voted Republican for years. This election is the first in my life where we can change what it means to be a Republican.”
Now I find this funny as all hell. I mean, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Leo, I'm not saying the Democrats would do a much better job for a working man like you. But by voting for the Republicans for years, you and others like you gave the GOP no incentive to change what it was doing which was basically making you mad over how crappy things are. And if they actually did something to make things less crappy, then you have less to be angry about and might not vote for them.
Oh, I love this bit from the NYT article. Pat Buchanan ran for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 1996. He cites "years of job losses and wage stagnation that he blamed on free-trade deals and cheap labor from illegal immigrants, as well as hardships from foreign wars that have hit families whose children enlisted in hopes of better lives."
Mr. Buchanan, pardon me while I guffaw.*
The biggest debacle in American history was our invasion of Iraq, a war based on faulty intelligence and promoted by aggressive hardline neo-conservatives and on the premise that the United States had a bigger dick than everybody else and everybody should just fall in line and do what we say or else. Now listen to the rhetoric of most of the GOP but especially that of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who are espousing even greater deployment of our big dick. These two guys, who are leading the Republican pack, are pushing military actions that would likely get us in a fix similar to or even worse than the war in Iraq. If Buchanan is blaming hardships caused by foreign wars for the anger of working-class conservatives, why are they so hot for guys who want to get us caught up in more of the same?
As for some of the other stuff, Donald Trump has benefited from that cheap labor overseas and yet he gets the support of working-class conservatives who are mad about that
cheap labor overseas. They're mad about the flood of illegal immigrants and yet working-class conservatives are enamored with Ted Cruz who has blocked and denounced plans to reform the immigration process. Cruz and especially Trump are those "send them illegals all back where they came from" guys. Mass deportation is one of those simple solutions that appeal to the mad and stupid. It's completely unrealistic but for angry voters, it's just red meat*.
*Which may have E-coli due to a lack of inspectors as a result of budget cuts which were forced through by Tea Party Conservatives who will blame it all on Obama.
A lot of this stems from the party's divided opinions on how to respond demographic changes in the United States. Certain Republican leaders are not blind; they realize the GOP cannot survive without appealing to Hispanics and young people. But "many voters see such statements as a capitulation. They hunger for an unapologetic brand of conservatism that would confront rather than acquiesce to the political establishment'.
Capitulation? What, are we at war?
As Yoda said in one of the Star Wars films, "fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering."*
*Which Star Wars movie was it? Let me check...oh shit! It's The Phantom Menace?!
For twenty plus years, the Republican party has engaged in a constant drum beat of negativity against their Democratic brethren on the other side. Yes, this goes back to the days of Bill Clinton but even he wouldn't believe the shit Barack Obama has had to put up with. Anyway, the whole divide is not about differences of opinion of how to get the job done running the United States. It's a divide that has hardened, even calcified.*
The GOP's rhetoric has been that the opposition "hates America", "are out to destroy America", "are worse than Hitler", "the worst in all of American history", "can't be trusted at all". You know that nice family man with the lovely wife and the two beautiful children, you know the man who happens to be President? The hateful rhetoric has people seeing horns on his forehead and no one negotiates with the devil. So the rhetoric of hardline conservatives over the last two decades has created a state of war with the Democrats. You don't negotiate a war, you win it. You win a war by defeating the enemy, you don't compromise with the enemy.
The base of the Republican party, mostly white men, are afraid and in a way I don't blame them. Things don't seem to be as simple and assured as they were back in the days of their fathers and grandfathers. Those were times when you could get a good solid job down at the plant, marry your best girl and have kids and when you retired from that same plant, you could kick back and look after the grandkids.
Even back in the day, real life was not as simple as all that and in the modern world, it's an illusion that gets fainter everyday. And that's scary. And when people are scared, they get angry, they lash out. When people around you start to look less like you, you might see them as the cause for your fear so they become the target of your anger. And when the people you're angry at have the audacity to not go away or dare to actually increase in number, they become the subject of your hate. And hate never made anything better. There's only suffering from the burdens that you've pulled down upon yourself. Your interests work counter to what you really need.
And you find yourself like Leo Martin, a 62-year-old machinist from Newport, N.H., wondering why "the Republican Party has never done anything for the working man like me."
For twenty years, in order to grow in power, the Republican Party has appealed to fear which has led to anger which...well, you know the rest. But you can't keep turning up the heat before something explodes. So don't be surprised by the conflagration you have created.
You know, for all his bluster and the stupid things he says, Donald Trump is a pretty shrewd business man. He saw a market he could tap, a vast market of afraid and angry people that he could bring to the service of his own best commodity, his ego. All he needed was a match.
So working-class conservatives, what are your interests? Maybe you will recognize what they truly are and the best way to accomplish them. And you will truly see that the leaders who professed to have your interests at heart were just pursuing their own interests at your expense.
Perhaps you will see when you renounce fear and anger and hate.
OK, that's it for this diatribe. Another post coming up tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.*
*Made you look.