Monday, February 11, 2008

The Embarrassing Fall of the GOP Empire

“Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call.
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall.
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside and it's ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.” — The Times They Are A Changin’, Bob Dylan

“A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” — Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

My friends in progressive GLBT circles are going to think I’ve gone over the wall but I’ve really got to feel for GLBT or moderate Republicans and, to a much lesser extent, even Sen. John McCain these days. As one not really built for schadenfreude, it’s tough to watch this really sad self-dismantling by the Grand Old Party.

Two of my friends – co-founders with me of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) – are (or rather were) devoted Republicans. To be sure, they were the moderates who were in it more for the pay-as-you-go, balanced-budget, less-government aspects. One is even African-American (party of Lincoln and all.)

Yet watching this slow-motion train wreck is akin to sitting at a NASCAR race and watching a horrific wreck with a driver strapped in, burning alive, and using the last of his energy to flip the rod out of the car window and scream “f*#k you, pansies!”

It’s been no secret the GOPpers have been in a funk about their political fortunes, much less their less-than-stellar choices to replace W. The only true conservative the red-meat folks had – Fred Thompson – never won a state, and fizzled out early due to a puzzlingly coy late entry. Rather than being craved and drooled over as would a homecoming beauty queen, he was welcomed like a slab of rancid meat in beach-bunny land.

Soon to follow was the image-queen, Rudy Giuliani – no conservative, but at least image-inducing enough (thanks to 9/11) to make people overlook it. His even-more mystifying campaign – up for the duration with the early lead, yet not even bothering to participate until mid-election – made history, albeit inauspiciously.

Finally the last best choice for conservatives, a died-in-the-wool, supply-side, rich-for-the-rich corporate bedmate, Willard “Mitt” Romney, met his political demise. He was hampered due to his fundamentalism for something other than mainstream Christianity. Evangelicals weren’t wasting a vote for a conservative who wasn’t one of them – and indeed showed they’d vote in opposition to the corporate, fiscal types if he wasn’t one of their own. Either that, or they couldn’t handle voting for a man who was named after a kitchen glove used to pull casserole dishes out of a hot oven.

With that last red-meat fiscal conservative out of the race, GOP folks were left with the eager-to-please but untrusted John McCain, and the evangelical-but-anti-avarice, socially conscious Mike Huckabee. They woke up with the same post-political-parting depression I had when John Edwards dropped out.

But rather than reading the handwriting on the wall and moving forward, the mainstream conservative power-mongers decided instead to blast the wall to smithereens.

“This is the house we used to live in
Where I thought I could always go.” — House That We Used To Live In, the Smithereens

These conservative power-makers who have an indelibly elephantine memory chose to show their true colors to the world by public petulance and tantrum throwing. Talk show types like Laura Ingraham and Glen Beck called for the party to get a taste of what GOPpers call compassionate conservatism (more widely known as “tough love”): just lose, get pissed and rebuild anew. Oxycontin Head-Rush Limbaugh called McCain everything but a traitor and threatened to stay home and sulk come election time. Conservative moré arbiter, Bill “The Gambler” Bennett, outright demanded that the party leadership sit with the conservative wing of the party and accommodate them. Even Ann Coulter (who makes pre-operative, pre-FFS transsexuals everywhere feel inspired and much better about themselves every time she hits the TV screen) declared she’d never vote for McCain and would instead cast her vote for Hillary Clinton – the “more conservative” of the two!

James “Megabucks” Dobson of Focus on the Family was a bit more restrained. At least his Baptist preacher candidate was still in the race, though far behind Sen. McCain. Yet Dobson also warned he’d never vote for McCain.

And to think, all these desperate histrionics coming from the same folks who’ve enjoyed nothing but privilege and opportunity seen by precious few if any other Americans during one of the toughest economies ever! Amazing ….

Think back over the past years of this Bush Presidency. The continuous Rovian mantra was that Democrats were completely incapable of compromising, even when some Dems were crossing lines and voting with some of these ultra-partisan bills and nominees. Years of conservative leadership has brought a significantly higher national debt, a stagflated and sinking stock market, a mortgage crisis rivaling elder-Bush’s years, an open-border policy mostly rescinded after much acrimony, an unpopular, deceitfully-marketed and un productive war with no end in the middle east, cronyism, scandal, record-levels of pork spending and the lowest public opinion since the Nixon resignation era.

Now we have the successor to this Bush legacy coming in. Moderates are beyond fed up with this unprecedented conservative mismanagement in all phases. Their Rove-cobbled coalition of evangelical trans- and homophobes, fervent war hawks, poor and duped rednecks, Leona Helmsleyian tax-averters, opportunistic lobbyists and sharp-eyed corporate raiders is coming apart at the seams. And yet, faced with possibility of irreparably shattering the neo-con GOP dream and destroying themselves, all conservative camps absolutely refuse to compromise.

All this time while they’ve spent whining like spoiled children over Democrats’ uncompromising stances, conservatives’ own blatant hypocrisy came back to bite them in the ass before God and the world.

Yet even with seven years of archconservative blitzkrieg, and further publicly reducing their credibility value to zero with this recent display, the conservative camps still insist on having their needs – and theirs alone – satisfactorily met!

To this end, President Bush himself (perhaps sensing the mess he’s made of the GOP) has begun trying to collectivize the Republicans while endorsing Sen. McCain as a “true conservative.” McCain may well have drunken the Kool-Aid and turned his soul over to the Republican National Committee (RNC), but conservatives are having none of it. In the past, a George W. Bush endorsement would have been tantamount to finding the Holy Grail. These days it’s more the kiss of death.

Not to let Bush allow McCain to get off the hook, former House Maj. Leader Tom DeLay did NBC's Meet The Press and reiterated demands that the Presidential front-runner (who’s blown away his competition without conservative help, mind you) must meet with them and fulfill their needs. DeLay of course had his own hand in getting the Republicans into their mess with his K Street Project, unbridled greed, disdain for law or convention, and strong magnetism for controversy and scandal. His arguments were not only ridiculous, but he seemed verbally disjointed – not all there. (Perhaps BugBoy’s been partaking in too much of his precious DDT)

"The Arizona senator, long the bane of the GOP establishment, showed in Florida that he could begin cobbling together a new Republican coalition -- attracting enough support from all corners of the party base to give him a plurality….” — LA Times article on John McCain’s Florida primary victory.

He may be able to work between the seams in the primary races and forge victories, but John McCain has a much more ominous task than any other Republican in American history. Karl Rove – love him or hate him – was a mastermind at propaganda and media manipulation. Through selective messaging and deft attention-diversion he was able to hold these sometimes-agreeing, sometimes-opposed parties together long enough for an election victory. With no more Rove, and worse, a populace that’s finally caught on to the patterns of this puppetry, McCain faces a tough crowd wanting a magic show and receiving a two-bit comedy act instead.

It’s odd that today’s Republican leadership seem to believe the only part of their party is the conservatives and that there have never been GOP moderates – selective amnesia it seems. Anyone who is independent or libertarian is expected to give their vote, then shut the hell up and go away. Nobody counts in Republican-land except for the red-meat zealots in the various camps holding to their own values with a death-grip.

Evangelicals want to banish all queers and illegalize abortion and have the nation sanction theirs alone as the “official” religion, but are not keen on killing and war making. They’re more forgiving on social issues for the working class and poor and are starting to get testy with the unbridled corporate greed.

The Wealth set wants all taxes done away with, absolutely no entitlements or concern for social issues outside of their elite realm. They want to ensure their kids don’t serve in war and are there to fully inherit their estates and keep it in the family. They also want very limited immigration (only housekeepers, nannies and fieldworkers) and are slightly milder than evangelicals on social things like abortions and queers.

The Corporate leaders want zero taxes, and also want zero business restrictions with fully open borders to exploit cheap labor to maximize profits and a winner-take-all, money-grab, oligarchic society. They also seek a hegemonic, expansionistic military agenda to expand their domain over other lands and to protect while these corporations exploit the resources. They also don’t give much attention to social issues (they may themselves even partake in them discreetly) and disdaining any “official” religion, as they’re pluralistic as a whole.

The Military set want an aggressive, protective stance including closing the borders immediately. They understand and agree that everyone should pay their fair share of bare-bones taxes (as that pays their paychecks and buys their supplies.) and serve their country equally. They abhor civilian or business interference in their daily decision-making, and do not like being exploited simply to run cover for corporate designs on profit.

The Rednecked dupes? They “just wanna have a beer, do whatever I want and git everyone the hell offa my back!” Meanwhile, the Republican moderates are rapidly becoming extinct, with even McCain moving away from them.

As America increasingly views compromise as weak-kneed loss – especially in conservative circles – we may be watching the last of the major two-party election system. It appears that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

“The line it is drawn, the curse it is cast,
The slow one now will later be fast
As the present now will later be past.
The order is rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.” — The Times They Are A Changin’, Bob Dylan


Monica Roberts said...

And it couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of jerks.

The GOP rise was built on a shaky foundation of deception, demonization, and disenfranchisement.

Their victories made it impossible for those of us who were jacked around by them to forget it. It made us progressives work even harder to not only defeat them, but work to destroy the neo Know-Nothing mentality that allowed them to exist in the first place.

Polar said...

I'm one of the recovering Republicans you were referring to. In my case, it was a birthright, as my parents were Republicans - but Republicans who voted for the candidate, not the party.

Mom was for balanced budgeting, strong and reasonable foreign policy, and low taxes. Dad was Republican, but was also a union cardholder, and voted Democratic often. Still, they were Republicans in the Eisenhower mode, not the Karl Rove mode. They supported civil rights law, and were not fans of Vietnam, but realized that a gradual withdrawal was best.

I pulled the levers for them from 1964 forward. Mom voted for Goldwater, Dad for LBJ. They both supported Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and GHW Bush, but Jerry Falwell and Reagan's connection to him made them uncomfortable. 1988 was the last time I voted for a Republican Presidential candidate, and then only because I didn't consider Dukakis to be competent to serve as President.

In 1992, we cancelled each other.
Mom voted for Herbert Walker, Dad for Bill Clinton, me for Ross Perot. 1996, we all voted for Clinton. That was their last election.

My folks knew about my lobbying in Washington, and were proud of it. They expected me to speak up for myself and my friends and colleagues. And they told me that no longer wished to be Republicans. Their party left them. It left me, too. Now, the GOP is the party of humongous deficits, wanton warmongering, foreign invasions, trampling on the Constitution, religious whackjobs, interference in people's lives, and zero concern for those who are down on their luck.

I have been a registered Democrat since 2000, and have voted for 1 Republican in the past 18 years:
Mark Abrams for city council, because he was supportive of civil rights and was bucking the local GOP leadership to do so. Not that I am happy with the Democrats - they need to grow balls and take on the GOP bastards head on. But we all know they won't.

The Keeper said...

That was a wonderful read. I kept hearing this nagging little buzzkill voice though, saying, "don't underestimate these people." Wonder if I should listen.

Sometimes I think that just exposing them will be good enough, but then I realize that they have been very exposed for a long time. Nobody seems to care -- by "nobody" I sure don't mean the army of enraged We The Peoples -- I mean nobody in a position to bring this crap to a screeching halt seems the slightest bit interesting in doing that.

And so I will certainly join the celebration, maybe with more fervor than most, since one of my darkest fears is that it is already too late, and I may never have the chance to celebrate such a victory ever again.