Wednesday, July 29, 2020

To Kick Ass and Chew Bubblegum

And Stewart Stevens is all out of bubblegum:

Racism is the original sin of the modern Republican Party. While many Republicans today like to mourn the absence of an intellectual voice like William Buckley, it is often overlooked that Mr. Buckley began his career as a racist defending segregation.

In the Richard Nixon White House, Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips wrote a re-election campaign memo headed “Dividing the Democrats” in which they outlined what would come to be known as the Southern Strategy. It assumes there is little Republicans can do to attract Black Americans and details a two-pronged strategy: Utilize Black support of Democrats to alienate white voters while trying to decrease that support by sowing dissension within the Democratic Party.

That strategy has worked so well that it was copied by the Russians in their 2016 efforts to help elect Mr. Trump.
I'm really a little surprised at his honesty.  But then again, I think all the hatred and racism of the past 50 years (no, not all the racism; that's in our bones, not just in our guts) has become too much for us.  Rod Serling tried to turn it into a metaphor once, about 50 years ago.  In his story it was the darkness of our souls made manifest in a night that wouldn't turn to day again, a hatred, one character said, that Americans had collectively finally vomited up, because it was so vile.  That emetic didn't lead to a national soul cleansing, and neither will this self-examination by some Republicans.

But it's a good place to start.

There is a collective blame to be shared by those of us who have created the modern Republican Party that has so egregiously betrayed the principles it claimed to represent. My j’accuse is against us all, not a few individuals who were the most egregious.

How did this happen? How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy and the national debt in a matter of months? You don’t. The obvious answer is those beliefs weren’t deeply held. What others and I thought were bedrock values turned out to be mere marketing slogans easily replaced. I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market.

Mr. Trump has served a useful purpose by exposing the deep flaws of a major American political party. Like a heavy truck driven over a bridge on the edge of failure, he has made it impossible to ignore the long-developing fault lines of the Republican Party. A party rooted in decency and values does not embrace the anger that Mr. Trump peddles as patriotism.
The house is going to fall on the witch in November, but that doesn't mean the witch is dead.  There was another evil witch in the story, if you recall.  No slate is ever wiped clean quite so easily.  Yes, this could lead to great things:

This collapse of a major political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in modern American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the dissonance between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experienced was so great that it was unsustainable.

But such analogies are not comforting, considering the state of Russia today.  It more proves the French adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  John Le Carre, at the time the Soviet Union collapsed, advocated massive help from Western democracies to see Russia become a democracy.  It tried on its own, but the West refused to do much for it, and now we have Putin running what is probably a failed state, a kleptocracy barely propped up itself by propaganda and oil.  The Czar is now a handful of bucanneer capitalists supporting the man who makes their wealth possible.  So the question is:  do we watch the GOP implode, and do nothing?  Or do we seize this moment?

That defeat is looming. Will it bring desperately needed change to the Republican Party? I’d like to say I’m hopeful. But that would be a lie and there have been too many lies for too long.

Maybe the question should be:  will we bring the change?

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