Tuesday, August 17, 2010


New Jersey governor Chris Christie is the most recent of a handful of Republicans who've expressed unease about the party's anti-Cordoba House campaign. When I see this, or when I see some Republicans (often some of the same ones) warning that it's dangerous for the GOP to politicize birthright citizenship, I'm reminded of the handful of financial observers who foresaw the subprime mortgage collapse. It seems to me that the GOP right now might be creating a "rage bubble" -- something that just seems to keep expanding in the short term, winning the party votes and popularity, but that might collapse down the road, with very dangerous consequences.

I agree that the Cordoba House controversy is dangerous for U.S. foreign policy -- we're losing hearts and minds in the Arab/Muslim world (though I think killing civilians with drone strikes does a hell of a lot more damage to our reputation). But I worry more about the potential of these issues to tear this country apart -- remember, our history includes slavery, Japanese internment, and lynchings. I can imagine all the GOP's ginned-up anger leading to mob violence against Mexicans and Muslims. I can imagine the end result being two-tiered systems of citizenship and religious freedom. And if we expand our rage perimeter to include the inchoate tea party rage against Kenyan/Sorosite/commie/Nazi rootless cosmopolitans, I can imagine our national bonds loosening even more -- a little more rage coinciding with a few more economic downturns and I think literal civil war is not out of the question.

That would be analogous to the economic bubble -- Republicans think they can keep pumping up this rage and enjoying the short-term benefits, but they seem to assume nothing bad will come of it in the long run. They seem unaware of the long run (defined as any moment past November 2010, or maybe November 2012), just the same way the moneymen couldn't seem to see past the next fiscal quarter or two.

On the other hand, maybe this is like the financial bubble because the people creating it assume that they won't get hurt when it implodes. The moneymen sure didn't -- they came right back to life; the rest of us are dealing with 100% of the financial bubble's negative aftermath. That may be how the GOP regards its rage bubble. And, alas, that may be a correct way for the party to look at it.

No comments: