Thursday, December 29, 2011

Io-what, now?

Well, Mitt Romney seems to be the inevitable winner of the caucuses in Iowa.
Unless Ron Paul beats him.
Or Newt Gingrich picks up more momentum.
Even Rick Santorum's message is spreading.
And if you're going to look at Santorum, you may as well look at Rick Perry, who's about in the same place as Santorum.
Indeed, about the only candidate who has completely obliterated her chances in Iowa is Mickey Mou-- I mean, Bachmann.
And lurking in the shadows for whomever comes out the front-runner is Jon Huntsman, who decided to insult Iowans and bolster New Hampshirites by skipping and then dissing the Iowa caucuses
Huntsman's strategy at least is clear: skip the nomination this year, position himself for a run against the Democrat to succeed Obama in 2016, and hope for a fluke.
A couple of days ago, a Republican strategist was lamenting how the GOP wasn't fielding their A team (wish I could recall the link, but memory fails me today.)
Well, newsflash: this IS the Republican A team!  Therein lies the tale. It's a tale of thirty years of deciding that power trumps good governance, that compromise is for wusses and arrogance will win the day.
When Ronald Reagan ran for President in 1976-- he lost in the primaries to Gerald Ford-- he made a pact with the religious right: in exchange for the support of the evangelicals, Reagan promised to support their platform and espouse it as his own, despite the fact that Reagan was about as religious as any Hollywood movie star was.
He married this constituency to the economic royalists who had lately become the Republican funding backbone. It was an uneasy truce, and early dust-ups between the two factions were always smoothed over by Reagan himself. He'd toss a bone to the ideologues while scrupulously plotting the economic downfall of America while avoiding any hint of upsetting those religious types who might notice.
Indeed, so successful was he at co-opting the religious vote that he managed to ram through dismantling of whole departments that were in keeping with little things like God's commandment to humanity to shepherd the earth and its inhabitants.
No one really noticed.
When Reagan left office, the task of placating both groups fell on Lee Atwater's shoulders, who devised the "big tent" image: an inclusive club that anyone could feel at home in.
Sadly, a complete lie. It might have been a more interesting dynamic if the Republicans worked harder for, say, the minority vote or the gay vote.
In turn, we watched as Republicans tried to discredit science, logic, the Constitution, the Congress, and even a President, with mixed success. It was the underlying message, however, that Republicans would prefer to be elitist and aloof that got leaked out, along with this hatred of anything remotely smacking of liberality or progress.
The people who were attracted to this belief system, the "new blood" added to the already stodgy Republicans of pro-war, anti-humanity ilk, were pretty radical in their beliefs. And they were zealotous in their dogma. My way, or the highway. The perfect patriarchal moment.
Take a look at the Republican field: apart from Huntsman, who almost sounds normal, who there has a clue about the America of today?
They have what they have, and looking deeper into the party, there's not a lot of "there" there. Your frontrunner, Mitt Romney, is about as close to a real candidate as they have, and he's a former liberal who ascribes to a religion that has some very curious and ambiguous standing as a real religion.
Contrast this to the 2008 Democratic primary, where we had three candidates who gave us sharp differences and real choices in candidates. That's the sign of a healthy political party.