A few more thoughts on the Republicans and their era. Funny, I remember in college that people were saying that the 1980 election was a paradigm shift. I think that they were wrong. It was ’68.
In any case, yesterday I really only mentioned 1/2 of the story. There is the Republican plans to gain power and then there is the Republican “governing philosophy”. The governing philosophy is strange because it is one that clearly can’t work. Republicans want to take money from the poor and middle class and give it to the rich. Otherwise, government exists solely as a pork barrel. No regulation, no social service, army only to buy guns and express power abroad. Republicans never spend money on soldiers after they have lost their value as fighters. Republicans quote the former chief of GM that what’s good for GM is good for the country, but they don’t mean that ensuring an open and fair market, no they literally mean what is good for GM or Halliburton. This philosophy is the same one devastated in the 1930s. Rather than coming up with a new governing idea, the Republicans recycled a disastrous one. That is the main reason that they can’t run on ideas.
So, what do they run on? Three things: the illusion of ideas, resentment, and hate/fear. Most of what they run on is illusion. Their “ideas” are ridicule of the Democrats ideas, some bribery, and punish the other. Really, their power is built on resentment and hate. None of this is new. Nixonland is a nice recap of the development of this strategy. There are two points that are undermade, I think. First, the hate/fear. I think that we generally think of it as racial. I think that gender fear/hate is under counted. The rise of the right closely corresponded with Roe and the defeat of the ERA. “Traditional” and “Family” values exist to repress women. Second, I think that it is odd that the Republicans have the reputation as the tough war-like party. With the exception of the second Iraq war, the Democrats have been the ones into foreign adventures (Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, Bosnia) while the Republicans actually ran an effective war in Gulf War I (a lot of allies and support, massive force, clear objective, get out) except for the post-war basing of soldiers in Saudi Arabia. It is also the Republicans with the bad record against terrorism. 9/11 was on a Republican watch, Reagan dealt with Iran, Reagan gave into terrorists after the Marine Barracks bombing. On the other hand, Clinton responded quickly and decisively to the embassy bombings, Carter hung tough against Iran. But, the Democrats are vilified as weak and the Republicans as strong. Just interesting.
So, where do we go from here? The Republicans still seem unable or unwilling to develop a real governing philosophy (are they stupid or SOOOO greedy that they can’t see that their way necessarily ends in destruction). All they can do is to continue with lies, resentment, and hate. Is that enough? It has been for 40 years!