American Right Not Persuasive, Yet Imposing

Newt, a man who clearly knows a lot about mouthfuls said one when he promised in his non-concession speech after the Florida primary to “impose the future on the establishment, and on both parties.” While such aphrodisiacal talk may not intoxicate primary voters to fall in love with Newt, it certainly does reflect the right’s deep and long-abiding yearning.

The desire for an imposition of beliefs in the governmental and societal spheres is a natural fit for a movement grounded above all in resentments of every form and flavor, and an evangelicalism that by definition imposes one set of values upon all.

The list of conservative hostilities runs long, very long, but among the highlights are: minority advocates (minorities are coddled), labor unions (owner and managerial sovereignty is sacred), consumer and regulatory advocates (again, inconvenient to profit-makers) foreign nations (allies merely fools with their welfare states, the rest uppity, existential threats), intellectuals and academe  (knowledge and facts are highly inconvenient for ideologues), the creative class (both unconventional in lifestyle and often possessed of that mysterious quality: empathy), immigrants (threatening traditional cultural and social norms) and last but never least the insidious liberals ((expanding rights and freedoms whether than proscribing them, or retaining them as exclusive).

Naturally, when one is preoccupied with and agonizingly agitated by a host of enemies, ones dreams are flush with scenarios of revenge, comeuppance, decimation and domination. Conservative media, the Limbaugh-Fox Axis of Talk serves this demand exceedingly well, as audience numbers demonstrate, relentlessly identifying ideological malefactors, iterating their crimes, and taking their names in vain in an environment wholly safe from challenge. Critical to this ravenous appetite for perpetual impudent speech directed at liberals and their ilk is the persistent fantasy liberals are enraged, are apoplectic with anger, infuriated even more the cruder, pettier or dumber the insults are. In practice of course, liberals tend to simply note the reliable juvenilia and bloated red faces of the anger mongers, then go coolly on about their  business.

Not surprisingly, a truism about Republican politics is that its driving motivation is neither finding nor creating national consensus on any set of issues, or creating a governing majority through success at persuasion, transparently presenting its goals and objectives in order to be chosen or rejected by the broadest electorate.  Rathe,r it is imposing those beliefs and those objectives by withholding transparency and reducing the number of those who are able to cast a vote.  Hence the twin modus operandi are concealment (of their genuine beliefs and intents) and restriction of the process of the choice itself (voting). So whether it is Bush era, Rove directed efforts to gin up federal investigations of voter fraud where voter fraud is as real as ghosts, or whether it is Republican governors and legislatures in fifteen (and still counting) states they control imposing draconian restrictions on the right and the ability to vote, the goal is democratic limitation.

This modus operandi is not a reflection on an ideology and a political party confident in their ability to sell their unvarnished values to a majority of American voters. While in practice Republican economic policies for several decades now have sought to and have achieved a singular transfer of wealth and political influence to those already affluent and powerful, no Republican will either admit or will publicly campaign on the truth that the wealthy are their only constituents, those designed to entirely benefit. Instead, they will conceal that objective and that desire behind the promise of a process of trickle-down benefit that never has and never will trickle.  Or they relentlessly promote the alarm that if ones economic betters are not reliably coddled then it is you who will feel the sting. The ferret-like secrecy practiced by the likes of the Koch brothers is hardly coincidental.

Rank and file conservatives for decades, though more intensely in recent times speak scornfully and bitterly about Social Security and Medicare, never bashful about their acute desire to eradicate them both. Yet Republican politicians will never tell you this, and in fact they even may tell you they wish to protect the two insurance programs.  At best these politicians will offer weasel proposals for privatization or reform concealing the true intent of a graduated eventual eradication. Likewise reflective of this conservative lack of confidence is the insistence on lots of corporate cash washing over the political process, in conjunction with the involuntarily diminished role of unions. Though unions could never equal the massive amount of spending done on behalf of Republicans by the corporations, banks and energy interests, just such meager evening of the playing field is far too much for them to handle. Rigging the game is the game.

Interestingly, recent polls showing current Republican candidates increasingly falling behind President Obama among a wide range of demographics in general election match-ups seem to be a consequence  as much as anything of Republican full exposure: the closer Republican candidates are forced to accommodate the unvarnished feelings and desires of the Republican core, the more the general public looks away in complete revulsion. Ridiculing the safety net, booing gay soldiers, cheering executions, or exhorting the death of an insured man is more revelatory than many in the establishment of the party prefer. Concealment, not persuasion.

And let’s face it: What could be more elitist than a willingness to inflict a set of values and set of policies on an electorate without its full knowledge or its full consent?

 

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