Readers of this blog have seen at least a dozen articles about how the GOP is running of the the rails – no longer functioning as an an effective party in our political processes and sabotaging our Democracy. This is a very serious assertion. But take a look at the evidence:
In A Two Party System – Running With Only One
The Wheels Are Coming Off The GOP Base
The Wheels Are Coming Off The Republican Party II
The Wheels Are Coming Off The Republican Party III
The Wheels Are Coming Off The Republican Party IV
The Wheels Are NOT Coming Off The Republican Party
To say the least in a Presidential election year these are serious claims. In effect our arguments have been that GOP has been increasingly acting in bad faith and now actively sabotaging the federal government by adopting extreme budgetary positions which defeat any economic recovery, using the 60 vote filibuster rule in the Senate 10 times more often in the past 3 years to stall almost all important legislation, rejecting Obama administration appointments and budgets to prove the extreme notion that “government does not work” by sabotaging its administration, and taking extreme austerity stands on the budget that are shown not to be working in Europe and are jeopardizing the US recovery. read the above posts for all the sordid and sometimes near treasonous details.
To say the least, ye Editor felt like an isolated viewer of a slow motion Train Wreck in American Democracy which nobody dare look at or acknowledge.
No longer so.
Two articles and a related book have changed that picture dramatically. The book by Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute and Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute is It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. Yes, the title does not give a hint of the contents in which Mann and Ornstein describe in careful detail how the GOP has worked ever more actively to sabotage US Democracy. And they name names. And they have the a broad array of details and references over 240 pages. To see a succint summary, see the following Opinion Piece, “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem”, by Mann and Ornstein in the Washington Post.
Paul Krugman at the New York Times goes Mann and Ornstein one batter. He credits them with describing the symptoms but expands the causes to one more crucial step. He underlines the Occupy Wall Street argument – that a plutocracy of the financial elite are are investing in and animating the extreme postions taken by the GOP. No small statement – again, long overdue. Read these two links and decide for yourself – is US Democracy under attack from within and lead by financial elites that have seized control of the GOP policy soul?
Why Does the GOP Do This?
Why would a political party take such extreme positions? Won’t the public eventually catch on and throw the guys out? Clearly there is that risk but here are some of the realities that would encourage extreme actions:
1)The GOP has already been thrown out of power in 2008 and so rely on the fact that the economy reached its extreme low point just as Obama took over. Blame all the bad news on Obama and the Democrats. Count on a two election cycle [2010 regain the House, 2012 take the Senate and the Presidency]. It takes two elections for the public to exercise their frustrations on the profound housing and jobs downturn and blame the party in power.
2)The GOP are Master Merchants of Doubt. Karl Rove masterminded the politics of fear and the alliance with Disaffected One Issue Voters[be it gun control, gay marriage, prayers in schools, right to lifers, etc]. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes enabled newspapers and a national network whose affiliation with the Republican party and delivering their message is an unquestionaed 24/7/365 operation, no apologies. Fox News uses out right lies and and then beyond prime time retractions, opinion pieces as news, and a host of methods to create dubious equivalences and plausible doubt. It is sophisticated information distotion and manipulation that only Jon Stewart on the Daily Show and Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report dare to call out. The major Networks and PBS are almost utterly silent about such travesties. Finally, there are dozens of Republican Think Tanks stocked with minority view experts that will issue reports on a broad array of topics designed to sow confusion, uncertainty and doubt. The Republicans have become the Super-Dupers, extremely adept at shading and driving opinion to their point of view for the voting time required.
Thus there is not a single issue that the GOP does not believe it can manipulate to its advantage for long enough to swing voters its way. So the current GOP crusade is to create the idea that “government does not work” so draconian cutbacks to programs and regulations that their business clients want delivered can be provided. Look at what happened to the Department of Justice, Office of Mineral Management and the SEC under George Bush.
3)The GOP has created an environment for bribery and access to power on a massive scale. The Supreme Court’s Republican Decision to allow unlimited campaign financing through Super Pacs and lobbying with very relaxed reporting requirements has created a)an all or none bidding process for support of programs and legislation and b)has created Super Assasination PACs. You cross the line as a Republican, and we ensure that you do not get re-elected. As a Democrat, if you become a thorn to our programs you likewise will not get re-elected. In the new World of Buying Political Power, the GOP leads the way.
4)There is an aura of invulnerability. In return for the Obama Administration not indicting the Bush executive branch officials for incompetence if not outrigh breech of the law on WMD, SEC, Lost Billions in Iraq, Treasury Deals and other executive actions – there was to be a forthright effort on bipartisanship. Yea, Right. Having got away Scot Free with major mischief, the GOP believe they can do it again. Just ask their friends, the Banksters.
In sum, the Republican Party is devoted to the notion that “We can fool most of the people most of the time”. And the 2012 election is their opportunity to prove that premise.