Monday, June 14, 2004

Radicals on the run?

I hate to appear, well... optimistic, but it seems very much as if the Wrong Wing Nuts are on the run in Arizona. With the passage of a compromise budget which left the Right out in the cold, snivelling and moaning, a new consensus for realism and moderation seems to be forming in response to our long national and state nightmare of ideological troglodytes stomping on the public welfare. As Reps Hershberger and O'Halleran correctly point out in their in-your-face response (not yet online) to Rep. Biggs extended whine regarding the budget compromise, the excuse of budget shortfalls is a strawman (AZ's state debt per capita is 49th in the Union) and the Right's intended victims were our children, developmentally disabled citizens, and the elderly (exactly those who are least able to defend themselves). The Right are a pack of arrogant bullies, attacking the weak and defenseless for their greedy and nihilistic agenda. They wouldn't even work within their own caucus to find a compromise, instead bullying their own party members, and they rightly got their asses stomped into the ground.

This might be a turning point in AZ politics, and possibly signals a turning point in the nation. People are waking up to the fact that the Right's anti-Government cant is nothing but a cover for a deeply flawed, regressive socio-economic agenda. Mainstream Arizona is picking up steam, scoring a major fundraising coup with their June 4th fundraiser. Hopefully this is reflective of the solid center of Conservative-leaning Independents and Moderate Republicans begining to show their strength. They may be tired of having to acquiesce to the worst tendencies of the Right in order to be represented. More power to them.

In the end, the Far Right as whole may become victims of their own alarming and unprecedented success. They have never been so completely in control of the levers of power, and as might be expected of neophytes, they misunderstand how that power can be used to effect long-term changes. Like babarians taking over the state, they failed to appreciate the delicacy and compromise that lasting power requires. In a pluralistic society, abuse of power only engenders resistance and counter-organization. The right just swarmed in and started shouting orders and breaking up the furniture to cook their mutton, assuming (or a least dreaming and believing) that having won a majority, it would last forever. Their tactics might shock the civilized for a while, but sooner or later the barbarians are going to find themselves wandering through the woods again without being able to understand how they got back out there. These people are not politicians, they are bullies and madmen. They aren't fit to govern.

In most ways, I find the very idea of a permanent Republican majority completely absurd. The only way to ensure domination is to destroy democracy entirely, and the demographics of the country are headed in the opposite direction. The GOP is not only largely unwilling to make the changes to their platform and constituency to maintain a majority, they are likely incapable. They are no longer able to spit out the racism, xenophobia, and intolerance which lies at the core of their agenda. Meanwhile they become victims of their own success. The more they concentrate power within the Right faction, the more of their own base they marginalize. Sooner or later they create their own doom. The depth of delusion it requires to translate a razor thin electoral margin into a strategy for a permanent mandate by favoring discrete minorities over the public interest truly boggles the mind. The very idea of permanent mandate is somewhat absurd - nothing is permanent in politics - but the idea that one can expand ones base by intensely favoring factions within it with policies that alienate most others is simply stupid.

Democrats need to stop referring to Karl Rove as a genius, he's not; he's a reckless, short-sighted, fucking idiot. What he has done is to intensely target and mobilize several factions within the Republican party, and then craft campaigns and candidates to cater very strongly to those factions. This is highly successful strategy in the short term, but once you begin to alienate the vast majority of the electorate, and your own party, you have really only done your opponent's work of mobilizing his voters for him. The backlash will wash your mighty movement away in a flash-flood of voter resentment. The primary emotion we should experience when thinking about the Right is contempt, not fear. The primary message we should give Republicans is that Bush/Rove is destroying their party.

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