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Friday, September 9, 2011
Via SFGate / Jon Carroll:
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
why it happened and how the Democrats - or indeed, patriotic Americans
of all political orientations - completely missed the point and thus the
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
have long since sold their soul. The eternally debated question - how
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page E - 14 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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