Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Obama Win Just The Beginning

Palin will lead the Paleolithic Wing of GOP in the split
(published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette 10/23/08

Casting a wary eye over the political and economic landscape these days brings to mind nothing so much as that old Chinese saying: There is a great confusion beneath the heavens -- and the situation is excellent!
The confusion arises from the meltdown of both the economy and the McCain/Palin campaign. The excellent situation this confusion offers up is an election in which not only will Barrack Obama win the presidency; but the Republicans will lose the White House, both houses of Congress and its 30 year stranglehold on American politics and political discourse.
This election decides not just who gets the government, but who sets the American agenda for the next 12-25 years. For while there is much confusion about what to do now and for the next 10 years to restore and maintain our economic well-being; nowhere is there as much confusion as inside the GOP. For 30 years the Reagan/Gingrich/Bush government-is-the-root-of-all-Evil, taxes are the wages of sin, god-guns-and-gays Culture Warriors have dominated this country. And now they are reaping what they have sown. From New Orleans to Baghdad, from Main Street to Wall Street, from failing banks to failing schools, from the get go of 9/11 to Gitmo they have bankrupted this country, heaped scorn and shame upon our nation, and are finally -- amidst the wreckage of their wicked ways – out of steam, out of ideas, and come November 4th, out of power.
The GOP transformed into the Confused Old Party is George Bush’s greatest legacy.
If this sounds like counting chickens before their hatched then consider: McCain’s campaign has failed precisely because he abandoned his maverick-with-new-ideas persona and ran as an old school Republican sucking up to the right-wing base, indulging in character assassination, and finally, vainly, trying to keep from drowning by choosing Sarah Palin as a sop to the Paleolithic wing of the party. He could, in fact, not run a campaign other than he did. What possible ideas could McCain have run on and still captured the nomination? He is a prisoner of the Republican ideology. Not only did it not save him, it was throwing a stone to that drowning man.
The financial meltdown finally showed a somnambulist electorate, in the starkest terms, that he and the GOP have nothing to offer in the 21st century. (And if you believe that God takes an interest in human affairs, perhaps the economic crisis erupting in so timely a fashion as to help Obama over the top was His way of making up for 9/11 exploding so early in Bush’s first term and the carte blanche it gave him.)
And so during this time of great confusion the election could very well result in this most excellent situation: a Democratic win in the White House and Congress might cause the GOP to go down in defeat and then split in two.
Indeed, such a split has been whispered of already, mostly by Republican Young Turk intellectuals who have declared that the GOP cannot go on winning elections as the party which hates government, science and immigrants. McCain’s defeat will prove them right.
Add to those Young Turks the weight of old-party stalwarts like James Baker -- who must rue the day they helped President Bush “win” the 2000 election only to watch him spurn their advice and blunder his way into two disastrous wars under the tutelage of the neo-cons. Indeed, a number of conservative pundits like George Will and David Brooks already have thrown in the towel on this election and the strategy which caused its defeat.
These Young Turks and old stalwarts – that is to say the conservatives who wince in shame every time a Republican candidate has to raise their hand and swear they don’t believe in evolution – swallowed hard over the past decades so long as the Paleolithic wing won elections. But their pact with the devil will be broken by their impending defeat and they could form a critical mass which will split the party.
If this seems like pie-in-sky it is because the Culture Warriors – now led by Sarah Palin -- still control the public face of the party and no one will break ranks to such a degree until after their defeat.
But consider November 5th. The only weapon left in the old school GOP is to treat an Obama victory much the way the Gingrich GOP did Bill Clinton’s election: as if an assassin has crept into the nursery. That is, to act only as a spoiler. But the gaping maw of our economic crisis is too frightening for the radical right to simply retreat into its bunker and whip up an hysteria as if Barack Bin Laden has been chosen by the electorate.
Not that they won’t try. Palin and the Paleolithics have no ideas other than to play spoiler. Let them. If they do they will quickly force those Congressional Republicans who don’t go down in defeat to chose, before the midterm election in 2010, between moderating their policies or face losing even more seats. That prospect is as likely as any to create a split in the party. And such a split will free Obama to govern as the kind of president the campaign has not allowed him to be as a candidate.
There is a precedent here. In Britain through the 1980s and early ‘90s the Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher and “Thatcherism” were as dominant and invulnerable as the Republicans here. Yet their defeat by Tony Blair (in an election as historical as this one) cast the Conservatives into the wilderness for 12 years while they reinvented themselves. When they win the next election, which they probably will, a “Thatcherite” Conservative could not get a portfolio in that government any more than Osama bin Laden could be the next king of Saudi Arabia.
The only real cloud threatening to rain on this glorious parade is that the electorate, the sovereign citizenry, having awoken from their disturbed slumber of the past 8 years, will take an Obama victory as a sign to go back to sleep and “leave it to the professionals.”
Among the many tasks facing that “skinny kid with the funny name” is to lace hope with some Red Bull and pour it down our gullet. Drink up everyone – the kool aid is excellent.