Charles Pierce got over his astonishment at the current incarnation of the Republican party to write about how truly screwed we are:
Not long before, I’d heard Rick Santorum tell a gathering of supporters in New Hampshire of his dread of the possibility of Iran’s gaining a nuclear-weapons capability. He touched upon the destabilization of the region that he believed this would cause. He spoke briefly of how it might ignite a general arms race in the area of the world that least needs a general arms race. He mentioned his stalwart support of the state of Israel. Then he claimed that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a direct threat to the United States.
There seemed to be a hole in this part of his argument. Any attempt by Iran to use a nuclear weapon against the United States would result in Iran’s future as a glass parking lot. Santorum thereupon made a case that the Iranian government — the entire Iranian government — was open to the idea of national suicide because it would bring about the return of the Twelfth Imam, a messianic figure of Shiite Islam whose arrival will presage the Day of Judgment. I looked around the room, and heads were bobbing up and down in agreement.
They were certain, because it was impossible.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Republican party, root and branch, from its deepest grass roots to its highest levels, has become completely demented. This does not mean that it is incapable of winning elections; on the contrary, the 2010 midterms, as well as the statewide elections around the country, ushered in a class of politicians so thoroughly dedicated to turning nonsense into public policy that future historians are going to marvel at our ability to survive what we wrought upon ourselves. It is now impossible to become an elected Republican politician in this country if, for example, you believe in the overwhelming scientific consensus that exists behind the concept of anthropogenic global warming. Just recently, birth control, an issue most people thought pretty well had been settled in the 1960s, became yet another litmus test for Republican candidates, as did the Keystone XL pipeline, to which every Republican presidential candidate pledged unyielding fealty despite the fact that several prairie Republicans and an army of conservative farmers and ranchers are scared to death of the thing.
In Washington, there is no leadership anymore, no “Republican establishment” to which anyone can appeal. The ferocious strength of faith-based know-nothingism in the party’s base has resulted in a stubborn refusal to adopt even those ideas — like an individual mandate for health care, or cap-and-trade as an energy policy — that began as Republican ideas.
Well, I’m not gobstopped but, then again, I’ve heard this stuff all my life. No, I don’t know how I managed to escape it. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma. But I do know that it is almost impossible to change a winger’s mind when they’re that far in. Whatever psychological mind tricks the right is playing on the vulnerable is powerful mojo. I’ve tried to break through the shell of resistance with my own relatives and the landscape of their mind and worldview is booby-trapped every step of the way. Fox should be banned for subliminal programming.
Oddly enough, there are a substantial number of lefties who also think that someone is going to drag us into war with Iran. They fail to see that Iran is just a convenient political scare tactic used by the right to keep the wingers mesmerized and the lefties pissed off at their own side. If we go to war with Iran, I’ll eat my blog.
But the most intriguing part of his post is what comes next about Democratic reaction to Teh Crazy:
As conservatism was developing its powerful infrastructure, the Democratic party was still sucking its thumb over what happened to George McGovern in 1972. While conservative millionaires were pouring money into the construction of the network of institutions on the right, the Democrats were throwing themselves, through the creation of the Democratic Leadership Council, in the general direction of the same money. Nothing arose on the left, or around the Democratic party, that remotely resembled the formidable arsenal of opinion that developed on the right, and of which the Republicans took full advantage, not realizing at the time that all of that success was hollowing out their party’s essential intellect until all that is left today is raw, overwhelming id.
The Democrats were powerless against this, and they did not seek to be anything else. They became gifted at defense, surrendering bits of what was once fundamental to their party’s identity as a bulwark against losing it all. This created a perennially discontented, but not mutinous, base because, at bottom, that base had nowhere else to go to exert its power. That is not the case with the Republican base, as we have seen. Armed with the power of its extraparty institutions, there is a strong element within the Republican base that does not care if the party loses one, two, or three elections as long as their ideology remains pure. There is nobody so powerful in politics as influential people who don’t care if they lose. The Republicans have these in abundance. The Democrats don’t have them at all.
You’re wrong about that last line, Charles. We’re out here. The problem is we are having trouble getting a critical mass because the left blogosphere is terrified of doing the wrong thing, bless their bleeding hearts and group identities. But who knows, there may be *just* enough defectors to random third parties that will cost Obama the White House.
I don’t know if we need purists to remake the Democratic party. Somewhere between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would be a pretty good sweet spot. It’s definitely FDR territory and most Americans, even the crazy ones, would take to it. That’s where I place myself. I’m not into the Greens or Jill Stein and her toxic boogiemen. Take care of the economy first, then you can free up the public’s mental real estate for ending the wars and saving the planet. But the left has to decide where it wants to stand. Does it want to develop a coherent worldview and vision for the country that doesn’t necessarily meet their crunchy granola standards of purity but reinvigorates the best aspects of New Deal policies or does it want to cower in fear of losing in order to elect a Wall Street “Democrat” that is almost indistinguishable from his opponent? If the left decided to send a message of discontent to the party leaders, it might be better off letting Obama lose and reinforcing its hold on Congress this time around.
Of course, there is a third option. In geek speak, when a system is at a local minimum, ie “stuck in a rut”, it’s sometimes best to force the system out of it by introducing some energy and entropy. Mix it up a bit. Be unpredictable. That is, put someone else in Obama’s spot on the ticket. When it comes right down to it, do we really care what happens to Obama’s political career at this point? I feel badly for the African American community but his little calculated speech about how his son would have looked like Trayvon Martin should have triggered headlines that said, “Absent father finally agrees to acknowledge paternity after four years”. Can you get him to pony up the back child support? Why is he turning up now, acting all lovey dovey, like he cares?
Get him out of there or let him lose. Put in his place the most popular politician on the left that is available. Swallow your pride, guys, and I do mean guys. And don’t tell me how it is impossible for the party to change the rules this late in the game. The Democrats are a private party and, as we saw in 2008, they make up the rules as they go along to suit their tastes. Get him to bow out, say he wants to spend more time with his kids or that he got a better offer from another company.
Quit peeing your pants, guys, and use your power. Consider it your duty to the nation.