Unfortunately, some wars are won by the side that is the most fanatical in the religious sense. The victorious leaders harness the holy energy of collective insanity.I have used the above quote before. I think is applies to both the success of al-Qaeda and the Republican party in the United States. Today Paul Krugman looks at last weeks PEW Poll in his commentary
[From the Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson]
Emerging Republican Minority
and like many misses the point.
Remember how the 2004 election was supposed to have demonstrated, once and for all, that conservatism was the future of American politics? I do: early in 2005, some colleagues in the news media urged me, in effect, to give up. “The election settled some things,” I was told.So far so good but here I think is where Krugman is wrong.
But at this point 2004 looks like an aberration, an election won with fear-and-smear tactics that have passed their sell-by date. Republicans no longer have a perceived edge over Democrats on national security — and without that edge, they stand revealed as ideologues out of step with an increasingly liberal American public.
Right now the talk of the political chattering classes is a report from the Pew Research Center showing a precipitous decline in Republican support. In 2002 equal numbers of Americans identified themselves as Republicans and Democrats, but since then the Democrats have opened up a 15-point advantage.
Part of the Republican collapse surely reflects public disgust with the Bush administration. The gap between the parties will probably get even wider when — not if — more and worse tales of corruption and abuse of power emerge.
But polling data on the issues, from Pew and elsewhere, suggest that the G.O.P.’s problems lie as much with its ideology as with one man’s disastrous reign.
For the conservatives who run today’s Republican Party are devoted, above all, to the proposition that government is always the problem, never the solution. For a while the American people seemed to agree; but lately they’ve concluded that sometimes government is the solution, after all, and they’d like to see more of it.The Republicans never became the dominant party because of their ideology. The other day I said this in response to Peter Beinart's commentary on the myth that Democrats were hurt for ending the Vietnam war.
Consider, for example, the question of whether the government should provide fewer services in order to cut spending, or provide more services even if this requires higher spending. According to the American National Election Studies, in 1994, the year the Republicans began their 12-year control of Congress, those who favored smaller government had the edge, by 36 to 27. By 2004, however, those in favor of bigger government had a 43-to-20 lead.
And public opinion seems to have taken a particularly strong turn in favor of universal health care. Gallup reports that 69 percent of the public believes that “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage,” up from 59 percent in 2000.
The main force driving this shift to the left is probably rising income inequality. According to Pew, there has recently been a sharp increase in the percentage of Americans who agree with the statement that “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.” Interestingly, the big increase in disgruntlement over rising inequality has come among the relatively well off — those making more than $75,000 a year.
Indeed, even the relatively well off have good reason to feel left behind in today’s economy, because the big income gains have been going to a tiny, super-rich minority. It’s not surprising, under those circumstances, that most people favor a stronger safety net — which they might need — even at the expense of higher taxes, much of which could be paid by the ever-richer elite.
And in the case of health care, there’s also the fact that the traditional system of employer-based coverage is gradually disintegrating. It’s no wonder, then, that a bit of socialized medicine is looking good to most Americans.
The Democrats did indeed suffer after Vietnam but ending the war had little if nothing to do with it. There were several reasons. As a 61 year old "hippie" I look back on the me that was in the early 70's and it scares me. The radical social change which was very visible scared people - the drugs - the cloths - the open sex - the rejection of traditional religion. Now this was associated with the anti-war movement and the Democrats and hurt the party. Another big reasons was the civil rights movement; the Democrats lost a big chunk of their traditional base in the south. You can't outlaw bigotry and fear and Lee Attwater and the Republicans were able to take full advantage of it. And then related to some extent to the above was Roe V Wade. Attwater and the Republicans were able to redirect the energy of the Southern Conservative Christians from open bigotry to the more political correct "pro-life" movement.The Democrats never lost the ideological war they lost the marketing war. Even though a majority of Americans remained ideological "liberals" the Right Wing marketing machine was able to make the word liberal an evil thing. Now we will get back to the quote at the top. The Republicans could never get elected based on ideology so they created and were able to "harness the holy energy of collective insanity" after ROE V WADE. The decline in the Republican fortunes may be as much a result in the changes and decline within the religious right. More and more people see the Falwells, Robertsons and Dobsons for what they are - Republican operatives masquerading as men of God. The religious are beginning to see the hypocrisy of defending the unborn and then forcing them to live without proper nutrition and medical care after they are born. The vast majority of Americans were never "conservatives" and you can only sell hypocrisy for so long.
Do the Republicans get it? Krugman points out that the answer is no.
Republicans, on the other hand, are still wallowing in nostalgia — nostalgia for the days when people thought they were heroic terrorism-fighters, nostalgia for the days when lots of Americans hated Big Government.
Many Republicans still imagine that what their party needs is a return to the conservative legacy of Ronald Reagan. It will probably take quite a while in the political wilderness before they take on board the message of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback in California — which is that what they really need is a return to the moderate legacy of Dwight Eisenhower.
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