Friday, September 9, 2011

Via SFGate / Jon Carroll:


The Internets are buzzing about Mike Lofgren's takedown of the Republican Party published by Truthout, the left-wing rabble-rousing website. The news here is not that Truthout doesn't like
Republicans; it's that Mike Lofgren is a Republican who worked for 28 years as a legislative aide to various GOP members of Congress.

So it would be fair to say that he knows what he's talking about. What he's talking about is not exactly new, but it is a succinct (despite its length) statement of what has happened to the

Republicans, why it happened and how the Democrats - or indeed, patriotic Americans of all political orientations - completely missed the point and thus the boat.

The whole thing can be found at links.sfgate.com/ZLCR.

The nut graf, as we say in journalism, of his introductory section goes like this: "It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant."

The unpleasant part: We're pretty much screwed.

It is tempting to just let the rest of the column be quotes from the piece, but let me bite off one little section and talk about that:

"A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

"A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that 'they are all crooks,' and that 'government is no good,' further leading them to think, 'a plague on both your houses' and 'the parties are like two kids in a school yard.'
"This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ('Government is the problem,' declared Ronald Reagan in 1980)."

I plead guilty to being deeply cynical. Nothing in the presidency of Barack Obama has done much to change my view, while the Republicans' taking the world economic system hostage merely plunged me more deeply into political despair. (We should not let that carry over into our personal lives, or we'd all be zombies.)

So go ahead, Jon Stewart, make fun of Congress. Hell, even make fun of Fox News. If people were to stop watching Fox, probably they'd stop watching TV news and start watching that show where the guy kills the rodents. So we get more of what Lofgren calls "low-information" voters ("ignorant" is another word for that) who will hear through the low-information grapevine about Obama's plan to Islamify America.

(Although, gotta say, the number of minarets going up in the left-wing bastion of the Bay Area is minimal. If that's Obama's plan, he's failing at that too. Also he's failing to soak the rich, despite Republican claims to the contrary.)

If people get out of politics, if people stop paying attention, stop even voting, then government really is left to the crooks and the liars. They will be abetted by large corporations, to whom the

Republicans have long since sold their soul. The eternally debated question - how can the
Republicans get people to vote against their own economic interests? - is answered simply enough by Lofgren: They lie.

He is pretty sure that the Republicans in Washington, including most of those running for president, don't even believe that stuff they're putting out - that's what makes the whole enterprise so deeply cynical.

So it's on us. If we turn away in horror, then our tax money will go to solidify a dual theocracy/kleptocracy such as the world has never seen before. If we pay attention and fight, with information and action, then at least there's a chance. But man, is that mud deep.

Everything you think is happening is in fact happening. No need to adjust your brain.

Well, sir, I'll bring you to our master Lear, and leave you to attend him: Some dear cause will in concealment wrap me up awhile, when I am known jcarroll@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page E - 14 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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