Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Party Down

I used to pay more attention to Tom Friedman than I have been lately. Nevertheless, there are only a few people who are wrong all the time (most of them currently inhabiting the right side of our congressional aisles), and his latest column is righter-oner than usual. The fact that it says exactly what I've been saying here forever has no bearing on my opinion.

Some people have said I'm unfair to conservatives, to which I've consistently responded, no, I'm wishing we actually still had some. Our system depends on two parties expressing differing viewpoints thoughtfully, with recognition that the U.S. wouldn't exist at all had it not been for compromise. What I rail against is the current crop of Republicans who are hidebound, dishonest, doctrinaire, and actively ignorant, aggressively unwilling to open their eyes to reality, deliberately deceptive to their voters, derisively confident they'll not be called out from within. Friedman, who had been arguing that we need a third party, has finally awakened to the recognition that what we actually need is what I've been suggesting for a long time: a second party.

...The [Republican] party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases...

Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions. I’ve argued that maybe we need a third party to break open our political system. But that’s a long shot. What we definitely and urgently need is a second partya coherent Republican opposition that is offering constructive conservative proposals on the key issues and is ready for strategic compromises to advance its interests and those of the country.

Without that, the best of the Democrats — who have been willing to compromise — have no partners and the worst have a free pass for their own magical thinking. Since such a transformed Republican Party is highly unlikely, maybe the best thing would be for it to get crushed in this election and forced into a fundamental rethink — something the Democrats had to go through when they lost three in a row between 1980 and 1988. ...

Because when I look at America’s three greatest challenges today, I don’t see the Republican candidates offering realistic answers to any of them...

... We need to hear conservative fiscal policies, energy policies, immigration policies and public-private partnership concepts — not radical ones. Would somebody please restore our second party? The country is starved for a grown-up debate.

Where we part company a little is on the effects of Republican defeat, because I don't think even a massive one would change a damn thing. (Also, given the filibustering and obstructionism, no Democrat has a "free pass.") They've taken us too far down the road of divisiveness (while, typically enough, lying that it's Obama who's divisive). Sarah Palin, all the RWS™, every one of the R candidates cynically campaign against a non-existent version of President Obama, a version that, were he real, would actually be hate-worthy: actively trying to destroy America, anti-capitalist, bearing resentment of white people, stealthily imposing Sharia law while leading Christians toward the guillotine. (Yes, Santorum really said that.)

Much as I'd like to see Obama reelected massively -- not because I agree with him on everything, which I don't, but because I really really don't want to see us return to Bushism and the near-death experience it caused our country (which would be literally fatal this time around), and because it'd be interesting to see how teabaggRs would rationalize continued obstruction -- I don't think it'll happen. I allow a little hope once in a while that he'll squeak out a win; but I have no doubt that if he does, by whatever margin, the vitriol will only rise on the right and further blind them to reality.

Because, how do you backtrack from the deeply destructive campaign that they're running? (Not that they'd ever consider it.) When you're constantly whipping up fear and hatred, personifying the opposition as biblically evil, lying deliberately, retreating from reality as if it were the proverbial turd in a punchbowl (much as I wish people would follow my often-humorus links, I really suggest you ignore that one), what do you expect the losers will think? "Oh, yeah, well, I guess I was wrong. The people have spoken, and, lover of America that I am, I accept their judgment." Nope. Sorry. TeabaggRs and their fomenters of hate peddle the politics of resentment, of grievance, of self-pity. Absent actual ideas, it's their stock in trade. Would defeat magically wipe away that carefully cultivated bitterness and paranoia, or stoke it to insanely unseen levels? The answer is obvious.

Sometimes I've wondered whether Mitt Romney has a conscience. Flopper of flips that he is, I sort of doubt it. But he's not stupid, and it seems at least theoretically possible that it could occur to him that campaigning on lies could be a bad thing. Because in the end he'll have left a santorum of rancor that will consume approximately half the country, no matter if he wins or loses. The same, of course, is true of all the R candidates. But I keep thinking that, unlike the rest, Romney sort of knows he's shoveling shit.

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