Author: Robert Becker
Beyond rightwing foment and self-flagellation, epic dilemmas bedevil all Republican dreams of regaining a national majority:
1) Fealty to manifestly discredited belief systems (cultural, economic, religious, and scientific);
2) Fealty to disgraced, ideological leaders whose arteries are hardening, rhetorically-suicidal and/or slow to get demographic “death spirals;”
3) Justified anxiety that “rebranding” different enough to engage newly-empowered centrists will alienate far more base zealots already feeling besieged from both sides.
4) Reactionary robber barons will keep afloat any “anti-business Obama” gang, whatever the setbacks, with plenty more billions to secure favorable permits, subsidies, laws, and deregulation.
In a nutshell, how does a party of insular, rigid true believers, thrusting warlike middle fingers towards modernity, talk itself into modernizing just because it lost one election? Aside from putting lipstick on a pig, where’s the miraculous (earthbound) agency that modernizes angry, resentful Tea Partiers whose outrage targeted the very diverse, younger, secular crowds now crowning the future?
GOP loyalty to losers
On point, unlike liberal losers who politely leave the stage (nearly all but Carter and Gore since 1980), Republican flops and misfits endure for decades, poisoning hate media and Sunday talk shows, even wreaking havoc across GOP primaries. That Newt Gingrich, or shameless, still illiterate Sarah Palin types get to harangue anyone beyond pets, testifies to the unholy resilience of party-wounding blowhards. In fact, Mitt Romney looks to be the exception by getting the quick boot, but then his staggeringly dumb remarks justify exile to the W. gulag. Dick Cheney gets more respect.
What close observer thinks that rightwingers will adapt simply because minority status looms? In fact, authoritarian control freaks live off opposition, especially from upstarts with darker skins with less money (thus moochers voting themselves ‘gift’ handouts). Face facts, as Mittens speaks for most Republicans (certainly hordes of over-compensated CEOs), his party is beyond “rebranding” but needing once-a-century reformation – or more devastating national defeats.
Further, since Tea Party fanatics would rather fight and lose than switch, they won’t abandon prime commandments. Certainly not 1) big government is bad government, except when killing enemies. Or 2) only low taxes guarantee growth and job creation (ditto, less regulations and red tape). That 3) states rights are still divinely-ordained (bring back the Civil War), or 4) Christianity is, let’s be honest, the world’s best, truest religion. And, finally, what reluctant reformers doubt 5) free-market capitalism isn’t authorized by whatever Biblical texts defend profits, exploiting the earth, and infinitely expandable markets. Hands, anyone?
Disasters only blessings in disguise
Why should hard-hearted, religious fundamentalists, in lock step with economic fundamentalists called robber barons, reconfigure such magical thinking simply because unwashed minorities screw up popular elections. That’d be surrendering under siege, and good Christian soldiers reflexively distort momentary defeats into blessings in disguise, spiritual tests airmailed by God. After all, the big, cosmic truths are self-evident and fixed, and quick, selective historical readings proving majorities are far less perfect than the Good Book. Plus, the GOP is still armed and dangerous, knowing how to organize, collect billions, forge unanimity of thought, marry old-time religion with employment and regressive values, even do what Mormons once celebrated, “lying for the Lord.” For more on the narcotic of lying, see Amanda Marcotte’s excellent piece, “Conservatives’ crisis of confidence.”
Of course willful ignorance extends beyond politics, and the enduringly dumb war against science goes beyond secession chatter after a loss. Blithering idiots indict both the competence and honor of the entire modern science complex, snubbing reproductive and evolutionary biology, geology, anthropology, archeology, ecology, climatology, astronomy plus incontrovertible carbon dating. Nor do like-minded Biblical literalists hesitate to impugn the world’s greatest experts on language, scriptural texts, even independent scholars proving the “inerrant Holy Bible” was a calculated amalgam edited by fallible humans, promoting consensus-building, with marketable chapters that favor church expansion. Will those who defy this sweep of intellectual and moral advancement reverse entrenched fantasies because a black hustler, born who knows where, finagled his way into a second term? Is that the incentive to abandon all that wishful thinking driving glorious conspiracy theories?
Doubt not conservatism
Thus, two weeks of soul-searching and behold, bold and mighty breakthroughs: “Never give up conservative principles, just make them sound less offensive.” Back to the PR drawing board: “better pandering to key demographics.” The “great ideas of conservatism” are untarnished, ruined only by wretched pitchman, like that tin-ear plutocrat, or Karl “over-the-hill” Rove, or FOX goons aghast at actual election results. Rock-ribbed conservatives don’t need change but changed decoys that cover up failed mindsets and disaster agendas.
Forget rebranding: what addicts to unreality need is psychological intervention. But, alas, that only works when the dope fiends (in both senses) admit vulnerability (too much like sin), then accept input from trained, outside experts (sounds like trusting elites). That leaves only a course in miracles, but that’s a longer shot still.
For ultimately the GOTP (Good Old Tea Party) doesn’t merely revere American Exceptionalism but Republican Exceptionalism. The right is doomed by the inviolate, mystical conviction of its own superiority. That’s what obstinate obstructionism is all about: truth is not open to discussion, especially framed by secular heathens. I’ll believe in rebranding when the GOP stops disenfranchising voters or backs off Congressional gerrymandering behind its dishonest majority, considering how many fewer overall House votes it received. I’ll accept rebranding when the right stops sabotaging majority rule with chronic filibustering. Since “rebranding” leaves unchanged all core assumptions, we’re finally talking shifts in public relations, not human orcommunity relations. More’s the pity.
The GOP Proctology Clinic?
So folks like Governor Jindal can wish away “the politics of stupid” but what about the politics of ignorance, the willful blindness that denies legitimacy to a re-elected president and unarguable electoral outcomes? Now wouldn’t that neat principle attract awakened minorities and women, profoundly offended by racist, anti-immigrant, anti-women and anti-science ideologues? If true believers are open to adaptation, let’s begin not only with immigration but climate change, fussing less about who caused what than what emergency measures are necessary to stem the tide.
We all search for evidence that real change is in the offing, on the right or the left, for that matter. To this end, I fervently second the cumbersome solution put forth by that stalwart Republican, Haley Barbour – his party demands nothing less than a “very serious proctology exam” that needs “to look everywhere.” Right, bring on those bloated, obstructed fat cats, kicking and screaming in high dudgeon. Karl Rove, first up, then Romney, Ryan and Rush Limbaugh. No videos, please, for even rationalists can only take so much reality.
Robert S. Becker writes on politics and culture.