Wednesday, December 12, 2012


The push for right-to-work laws is obviously about creating a race to the bottom that will significantly lower the cost of labor for U.S. employees -- but it's also, as has been noted by Rachel Maddow and Kevin Drum, among others, about defunding the Democratic Party, whose candidates are supported by a significant amount of union money. So, yes, the Michigan right-to-work fight is about the rich trying to get richer -- but it's also a sign that Republicans hope to win future elections not by changing any of the things they did up through 2012, but by doing what they were doing more forcefully.

We also see this at the propaganda organs of the GOP. The right-wing media, led by Fox News, is fixated on a story about a Fox News provocateur who was dispatched into the group of anti-right-to-work protesters in order to stir up trouble and briefly got into a scuffle with a protester. The fight was over in seconds, fellow protesters broke it up, it didn't seem to be of particular concern to the large police contingent -- and yet this is what the right-wing base is being told is the big news coming out of Lansing. Fox -- which is a huge part of the GOP voter turnout effort, and which is still Republican politicians' go-to media outlet for getting out messages -- isn't modifying its message one bit in response to the 2012 election results. (Hell, the Murdoch press was whining about the "Ground Zero mosque" over the weekend. Back to the future....)

In D.C., meanwhile, as Noam Scheiber points out, Republicans are still playing to the rage junkies. Scheiber writes about
the mania that has yet to loosen its grip on congressional Republicans, even after they lost seats in both houses and watched Obama roll to a comfortable re-election. To see this, look no further than the party's internal discussions over its own fiscal-cliff positioning. The current debate within the GOP is between those who see that Obama has all the leverage in this particular episode and urge a quick deal on tax rates so the party can regroup for a bigger victory on entitlements, and those who still refuse to budge in any way on tax rates. Which is to say, it's a debate between the moderately delusional and the utterly, irreconcilably delusional.
In other words, it's a debate between Republicans who think the party should be intransigent now, on tax rates, or later, on blowing up the global economy when the debt ceiling approaches, unless the president makes massive concessions on spending. That's the GOP's messaging after an electoral blowout: more of the same.

Add this all up and you've got a party that thinks rousing the base, and pretty much only the base, will work in the future, even if it didn't work this year. Just defund the Democrat Perty a little more, make voting more difficult for Democrats via voter ID and long lines, monkey with the Electoral College a bit, and who cares about changing demographics or alienating previously persuadable voters?

Last spring, Jonathan Chait argued that the "emerging Democratic majority" was here, and that the GOP had one final chance, in 2012, to seize power and steer the country its way. To me, the 2012 election results confirmed that theory -- but to Republicans, apparently, the last war still goes on.


Victor said...

Fear, rage, and hatred, are all that's holding the Republican Party together.

There base is composed of 'rage addicts.' And if the Republicans bend toward reality, they will lose their base.

And what do they have to sell to the rest of us if that happens?

And so, they'll remain a one-trick pony, hoping that performing that same trick a few more times in '14 and '16, will net them all 3 branches of government, and they can work on creating their own "Thousand Year Republican Reich!"

The fever hasn't broken.
They're just chewing on the thermometer.

Same as it ever was.
We can expect to see more of the same racism, but maybe, just maybe, a kinder and gentler way can be found by them to put lipstick on their misogyny, xenophobia, and/or homophobia.
Or, maybe not. Why not keep wedging those issues to fire-up their base?

And only if they lose even more convincingly in 2016, do I think we may see a more honest reappraisal.

Until then, the trick's the thing.
And, silly citizens, these tricks are for their fearful, rage and hate-filled kids.

Alatea said...

This should probably have been titled 1865 style. Long after the Civil War had ended in a convincing defeat for the South - bands of rebel fighters continued for years to wage the war, eventually evolving to criminal gangs like the James brothers.

The Democratic Party needs to get a lot smarter about how it works the media in order to marginalize these lunatics.