Saturday, April 14, 2012


Betty Cracker takes note of Matt Drudge's scare headline ROMNEY WARNS: OBAMA COMING FOR GUNS. Betty writes:

Here's the story it links to, which covers Mittens' NRA speech. In that speech, Mittens regurgitated the NRA's own paranoid fantasy about Obama, which goes something like this: Obama does fuck-all about guns for four years as part of a fiendishly clever scheme to lull gun owners into a false sense of security and win a second term. And then, just as quick as his hand leaves the bible on his Second Inauguration Day, Obama orders jack-booted ATF agents to go door-to-door to forcibly disarm the populace.

I'm sure I've said this a thousand times, but the unreported story of our times is that birtherism isn't an isolated example of paranoid lunacy taking hold of a disturbingly large segment of the population -- in fact, modern conservatism is driven by multiple lunatic theories that are precisely as delusional as birtherism. In this case, except in a few deep-blue states and cities, both major parties have simply handed over control of policy on a major issue to an organization that believes utterly paranoid things. We let the paranoids have all the power on this issue even though people die as a result. It's as if we turned control of NASA over to people who think the moon landing was faked, or science education over to people who don't believe in evolution. Oh, wait, we also do that last one in a lot of locales, don't we?


Improbable Joe said...

What I don't understand is why Obama and Democrats in general don't go full-on liberal instead of inhabiting a mostly center-right position. After all, they will be accused of being extremist no matter what they actually do, so they might as well score some points with the base occasionally.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why Obama and Democrats in general don't go full-on liberal instead of inhabiting a mostly center-right position. After all, they will be accused of being extremist no matter what they actually do, so they might as well score some points with the base occasionally.

1) Because the money people run both sides of the table, and they filter out full-throated liberals as much as possible because that's a threat to the moneyed classes.

2) The filtering methods are manifold, but there's the sticks of campaign finance, the carrots of post-politics jobs for politicians AND staffers, the ownership of the consultant class (certain consultants serve as a credential for "seriousness").

So what you have left in the Dem leadership is a lot of timid trimmers or people who genuinely believe the Third Way corporatist pabulum, and only a few actual liberals -- who must be mocked and marginalized if at all possible.

Cereal said...

It's a real shame That the US does not have a parliamentary legislature like, say, the UK or France etc. If it did, you would have functioning parties to the left of the Dems (who are functionally equivalent to the Tories in the UK or Sarkozy's center-right party in France) to counterbalance the GOP, which are equivalent to lunatic fringe far-right parties in Europe.

BH said...

I'd suggest another reason why the elected Dems are the way they are: the electoral base for positions to their left is, in most of the US, simply too numerically small to sustain left alternatives. There are many ways to account for that, I'm not saying it's permanent, and in the light of voter self-interest it shouldn't make sense, but it sure seems to generally be true.

Blotz said...

@Cereal, I'm actually not so Sanguine about a parliamentary solution to our polity. As you point out, the modern GOP would be a fringe right party in most western parliamentary democacies. What's scary is that even if we prune off the libertarians and the really fringe christopaths out into their own fringe parties, the GOP would still likely be the largest and most powerful reactionary political entity in the world. They would dwarf the conservative parties of europe and canada. i could easily see them gaining more power in that kind of government.

Anonymous said...

the electoral base for positions to their left is, in most of the US, simply too numerically small to sustain left alternatives

Oddly, when people are polled on an issue-by-issue basis, a clear majority (and certainly a radical majority of Democrats) are generally far to the left of the Dem leadership, and the country as a whole used to be much further to the left... until (a) the Civil Rights Act meant that you had to share the gummint largesse with the non-whites, and (b) the party traditionally associated with the social welfare of working people capitulated to the corporatist center. There's almost nobody of national stature making the case that all of those things that people say they want is the product of liberalism or a left-ish political position, and myriad people arguing that liberalism (as they define it) is the problem (including a lot of Dems by both commission and omission).

So I don't really buy the thesis as presented -- it assumes that there's some kind of "natural" set of positions that can't be changed. Movement conservatives have shown that assumption to be completely false.

BH said...

Your point's well taken, HP. But I have two questions. First, how is it that a person acquires "national stature" in a political context? I'd submit: usually by running in and winning elections, and performing well (by some standard) while in office. I don't think there's been that much of a dearth of pols trying to make some form of the case for liberalism as the overarching philosophy that leads to what people say they want; over the last decade or so, Nader, Bradley, Dean, Sharpton, & Kucinich, for example. But, they haven't ended up winning, thus remaining of something less than "national stature". We still get back to the basic problem: the pool of votes seems too small to sustain pols to the apparent left of, e.g., the President.

My 2nd question is tied to the first reason you cited for the national rightward turn, i.e., passage of the Civil Rights Act in '64 & the resulting white backlash. That backlash certainly wasn't the result of any capitulation by the Dems; quite the opposite, in fact. I'd argue that most of the schmoozing-towards-the-right in which Dems have engaged over the past 40-odd years is in fact the result of that backlash, in an attempt to reclaim some of those lost votes. Why were they lost in the first place? I think the answer is pretty clear: underlying racial anxiety, if not outright racism, in a large percentage of the white electorate, which was then of course exploited and roiled with great success by the GOP beginning in the '66 midterms (a process which continues to date). Again, I think we get right back to a problematic electorate at the root of our difficulties, not a shortage of pols making the liberal case.

Just to be clear, I don't like the situation; I don't think the electorate's acts have been rational, viewed through the self-interest lens, the broader common-sense lens, or the big national-interest lens; and I don't think the prevailing circumstances are beyond change (see Obama, election of, 2008). I simply think that to blame the situation on Dem capitulation lets the white electorate off far too lightly.

Anonymous said...

Re #1: Follow the money. Anyone who does make the case for full-throated liberalism as a presidential candidate is destroyed by the money boys. Dean was probably the strongest candidate for liberalism (he was an actual moderate), and he was deliberately destroyed.

Re #2: Yes, there was a reason that I cited the white backlash and Dem capitulation in that order.

My argument is that the Dem capitulation has encouraged and enabled the white backlash by allowing the Republican party and the money boys to set the boundaries of discourse. So the electorate deserves a lot of the blame -- frankly, mostly the white right-religious upper-middle class electorate deserves the blame -- but there's a HUGE difference between the resources movement conservatism has targeted at moving the national dialogue and the resources that are available to anyone to the left of even our relatively-far-right center.

And the Dem capitulation meant that the center moved rightward because there was no countervailing anchor on the left, and the money-driven Dems don't want there to be one. As long as you be a member of the Washington Generals, you've got a nice safe gig, and if you don't piss off the money boys, you're set for life.

BH said...

Not to prolong a now-ancient exchange, but as to #1: it's a given that scads more money will usually be available to the right than the left/(ish). But, why is it that scads more money can bury a candidate a la Dean? It buys lots more media time, mostly TV. Why does that translate into electoral success? Because too damn big a segment of the electorate lets its preferences get dictated to it via the media. Even if every Dem pol in the country was a dead ringer for FDR (on the issues and in personal political ability), that wouldn't cure the nut problem: a refusal, if not an inability, on the part of too many voters to think. Personally, I think it has to do with pervasive American religiosity, but be that as it may, I still think we have met the enemy and it is, fundamentally, us.