AMERICA'S FUTURE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM: PAULBOTS VS. PAUL RYAN-BOTS?
Barack Obama's real opponent spoke at the Reagan Library yesterday, and we really should take him seriously:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan predicted Tuesday that November's elections could bring a broad mandate for the Republican Party to enact aggressive reforms to the nation's finances.
In a nearly 30-minute speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Ryan ... called for changes to taxes and entitlements that Ryan said would parallel Reagan's first year in office.
"We will not only win the next election -- we have a unique opportunity to sweep and remake the political landscape," the Wisconsin congressman said....
Do you doubt that Ryan will be the real president of the United States if Mitt Romney is elected? I'd listen to what Grover Norquist said in his CPAC speech in February: he said that he and his brothers-in-arms in movement conservatism "just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it." By "this stuff," he means stuff like the Paul Ryan budget.
But wait -- who's that off in the distance? Why, it's the ragtag army of that other Paul guy:
With their favorite having lost the nomination for president, [Ron] Paul's dedicated band of youthful supporters are setting their sights down-ballot and swarming lightly guarded Republican redoubts like state party conventions in an attempt to infiltrate the top echelons of the party....
In Minnesota, Paulites stormed the Republican gathering in St. Cloud last weekend, bumping aside two conventional Republican candidates to choose one of their own, Kurt P. Bills, a high school economics teacher, to challenge Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, this fall.
Backers of Mr. Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas, crashed Republican conventions in Iowa, Maine, Minnesota and Nevada in recent weeks, snatching up the lion's share of delegate slots for the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August....
And Paulite candidates for Congress are sprouting up from Florida to Virginia to Colorado, challenging sitting Republicans and preaching the gospel of radically smaller government, an end to the Federal Reserve, restraints on Bush-era antiterrorism laws and a pullback from foreign military adventures.
Ands a trust-fund Paulbot just bought a GOP primary victory for an ideological soul mate in Kentucky.
It would really amuse me if -- spoiler alert! -- what's happening to the GOP eventually turns into the end of Wild in the Streets, with crazies having fully seized control and rallying around a young, smug leader ... only to be challenged by even younger (and even less self-doubting) extremist absolutists.
Up to a point, of course, there should be no conflict -- the Paulbots and the Paul Ryan-bots agree that policies on taxation, social services, and business regulation should be those of the Gilded Age. They can agree on auditing the Fed. Maybe they'll even agree on the gold standard.
But after that, what? Conventional Republicans of the Paul Ryan stripe aren't going to forswear military adventurism and chest-thumping jingoism -- rallying the nation against some swarthy evildoer of non-European descent has been far too useful a weapon in the GOP's arsenal over the years. Give that up? Not gonna happen.
I suppose some of the Ron Paul types will just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb, while others will drift back over to the left, wandering in the wilderness and wondering whether Russ Feingold or Rocky Anderson will run for president third-party. But it would be amusing if this were a future conservative crack-up.
On the other hand, these two wings of the far right could be our two-party system in the near future. I say this because, while I'm heartened to learn that the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA is actually increasing its focus on Bain Capital (despite whining from across the political spectrum about the supposed inappropriateness of attacking Bain), I see the future of the Democratic Party in the mewling of folks like Cory Booker, Ed Rendell, Harold Ford and others -- in the future, Democrats won't even utter empty platitudes about the people vs. the powerful.
In that case, why will there even need to be a Democratic Party? The only ideological fight in America will be in the GOP, between plutocratic isolationists and plutocratic neocons. Or the latter will simply win and we'll be a one-party state, as disillusioned Paulites go off to write sci-fi novels.