Before settling on the title I chose, I considered these titles for the post as well: Dots Elude Connection For Many Americans, Republicans Poised To Give Them More Of What They Don’t Want. And even more accurately, perhaps: Old, Mean White People Bust A Move.
But let’s make something perfectly clear. America’s radicalized Republicans don’t traffic in anything as useless to them, and alien to them as idealism. What they traffic in is ideology and cynicism, along with their little brothers and sisters: absolutism, utopianism, mythology and sentimentality.
Liberals are almost by definition pragmatic, motivated by ideals, but ideals that seek explicitly to remove the obstacles and solve the problems that prevent the lot of many of their fellow human beings from real material and spiritual (Life, Liberty, Happiness) improvement.
Reactionaries simply believe the world ought to be, must be, a certain way. They want it to be a certain way, no matter what. And they’ll do everything within their power and everything that is necessary to make damn sure it is that way.
For now, many Americans who might slow, and potentially reverse our national drift into the irrational and barbaric at the hands of manifestly extreme and demonstrably dangerous radicals, are failing the rest of us, both intellectually and temperamentally.
What’s known as the Democratic base is stalwart, motivated, canny and realistic. But they are only elliptically joined by other otherwise reasonable, non-dogmatic, progress-minded people who could permanently alter the tide.
Despite what anyone may tell you, there’s a limit to how much the layout of the electoral map for any given election, the built-in advantages one party or the other may enjoy for a specific election cycle is determinative of the final outcome. Math is still important. More votes, you’re the winner.
And the numbers are against the extremists, strongly so, as backed up by exhaustive sampling data. Americans clearly favor a higher minimum wage, clearly favor more gun restriction, clearly favor marriage equality, clearly favor retention of legal abortion, clearly deplore income inequality, clearly disdain tax giveaways for wealthy Americans, can’t stand corporate subsidies, clearly favor curbing pollution and carbon, clearly support investing more in education, broadband, roads and bridges and other important infrastructure. The current favorability rating for the Republican Party stands at 29%, only slightly higher than stepping in dog shit. And yet.
The hope, and idealism that motivated the majority to vote in their interest as they did in 2008 and 2012 are laudable, arguably essential. But if not tempered with realism later, refined with attention to the specifics of governance, informed by some acquaintance with the complications of niggling procedure and systemic inhibitors, such hope and idealism are squandered.
Yes, Republicans own the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has given unlimited power to the corporate hegemonists, putrefied financial sector and moneyed Ayn rand ensorcelled, libertarian cracked eggs who support the Republican Party. Yes, Republicans have conducted an organized, nationwide campaign to suppress the vote and stifle democracy, which is the only alternative when a majority of the country recoils with horror at your true nature and your true agenda.
And yes, there’s a senate structure that inherently, systemically favors smaller, more reactionary states over the larger, more cosmopolitan ones, and yes, Republicans have gerrymandered the congressional districts for the House of Representatives so brutally it ought to be considered rape. Yes, there is a Fox News, and thousands of carbon copies of Rush Limbaugh disseminating misinformation and misdirection and outright falsehood faster than you can say Louis Gohmert, a mainstream press too often about as hot for objective truth as the proverbial warmed over bucket of spit.
And even worse, Democratic politicians suck at supersonic speeds, and equivocate with extraordinarily distasteful meekness when it comes to forcefully articulating progressive principles, and selling the demonstrable successes of the policies of their president and their party.
How often were voters reminded in this election of how only a few short years ago Republicans devastated the American, and world economy, with their policies? How often were voters reminded of the consecutive months of economic growth, the steady reduction in unemployment that occurred under the current president? How often were they reminded of the Republican-instigated government shutdown, and threats to default on America’s debts?
Obama’s presidency has materially improved the lives of most Americans whether they know it or not, and if they don’t, much of that is Democrats’ fault.
But still, one is responsible for one’s fate, ultimately responsible for one’s survival. And realistically, the undiluted, implacable extremism embodied by today’s Republican Party jeopardizes both, perhaps much more than many have come to realize yet. In fact, each time extremism is given a pass, indeed emboldened, the circumstances only worsen, exponentially worsen, and that is really the problem.
No exalted leader, no magnificently gifted man or woman is going to achieve progressive objectives, or liberal ideals in anything close to a single presidential term, or even consecutive terms, not in this American political system, and especially not in this day and age. If there is a political messiah, he or she remains forever stuck in one of Chris Christie’s closed lanes on the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge I can assure you.
If you want to feel really, really good about politics, watch The West Wing. And in the 20 seconds Netflix gives you before the following episode arrives, vote. And more.
Otherwise, familiarize yourself with prison sex, and prepare accordingly.