Posts Tagged ‘Republican Party’
Even though Obama is rather late on this; and even though he maybe hasn’t done as much as possible to advance the same-sex civil rights and equality agenda (ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and ordering federal lawyers to no longer defend the Defence of Marriage Act were important, but a little late); I still think this is worthy of recognition.
The President of the United States endorses same-sex marriage. That is symbolically, historically, politically and culturally, a pretty big thing. Congratulations.
In terms of analysis: support for same-sex marriage has been steadily growing among the US population, and has for some years seen majority support. The Republican Party is putting up a rearguard fight, with their most recent success just yesterday in North Carolina where people voted for an amendment to declare same-sex marriage unconstitutional. In the longer term, they can’t possibly win this (among younger voters support is overwhelming), so this move by Obama is a good one. It will serve as a rallying-point in the coming elections.
The contrast with a candidate who wants to abolish all rights for gay couples by amending the federal constitution, and who has donated to organizations that seek to “cure” gays, who bowed to pressure from bigots who demanded the head of a spokesman on foreign policy solely because he was gay: how much starker can it get?
My view politically is that this will help Obama. He will be looking to the future generations as his opponent panders to the past. The clearer the choice this year the likelier his victory. And after the darkness of last night, this feels like a widening dawn.
[Now], for the first time, the office of the American President is officially supporting a policy that a mere decade ago was deemed truly radical: same-sex marriage. Those are real achievements. And, as virtually all polls reflect – underscored by last night’s landslide defeat for marriage equality in North Carolina — they carry genuine political risk. He deserves credit for his actions in this civil rights realm.
It should go without saying that none of this mitigates the many horrendous things Obama has done in other areas, nor does it mean he deserves re-election. But just as it’s intellectually corrupted to refuse to criticize him when he deserves it, the same is true of refusing to credit him when he deserves it. Today, he deserves credit. LGBT equality is one area — and it’s an important area for millions of Americans — where he has conducted himself commendably and deserves praise. That was true before today, but even more so now.
David Frum (a former Bush speechwriter):
The statement changes everything because it powerfully symbolizes an awakening that so many people have had, myself included: here is a social change whose time has come, and more than come. Denying marriage rights to same-sex couples inflicts real harm on real people, while doing nothing to prevent the deterioration of marriage among non-affluent Americans.
The statement changes everything because it puts marriage rights on the 2012 ballot as a voting issue. Mitt Romney has declared—not only his opposition to same-sex marriage—but his intention to use the power of the presidency to stop and reverse it. One may doubt how intensely Romney feels about that commitment, really. My own guess: about 1/1000 as intensely as he feels about Sarbanes-Oxley. But the issue is joined even so.
This is fantastic. Check the video below. It looks and sounds like a Michael Moore, i.e. a left-wing documentary, in its critique of unrestrained capitalism. The focal point of critique is Republican forerunner Mitt Romney, who during the campaign has always touted his ‘private sector experience’ as an aid in creating jobs as president. Yet Romney was CEO of Bain Capital, an asset management company specializing in private equity and venture capital; in other words, a company that buys other companies to ‘restructure’ them, fire lots of people, and re-sell it to make huge profits out of it. It made Romney a millionnaire.
While some people might see such a company as a necessary feature of free market capitalism, others might see it as Gordon Gekko-style profiteering over the backs of other people. That’s at least what Newt Gingrich, whose campaign has created this 28-minute video, seems to imply. Yes, Gingrich, one-time leader of the Republican Revolution, Speaker of the House and prominent conservative, who got trashed by Romney in Iowa. You gotta love this.
It’s funny to me how die-hard Republicans are now adopting Occupy Wall Street language in order to defeat one another. Obama can sit back and enjoy while Romney’s image is trashed among blue-collar workers. And seriously: while the physical manifestation of Occupy may have disappeared in cities, they have struck a note in their critique of financial capitalism that is still resounding. Even in the Republican Party.
Ron Paul -- the candidate who, apparently, is being ignored by the MSM in America -- came in a strong second in New Hampshire yesterday. Whereas Mitt Romney had 39,4 percent, Paul got 22,8 percent. Leaving Jon Huntsman aside, the remaining voters are divided up between the pathetic conservative challengers of Romney (Gingrich, Santorum and Perry) who all performed terribly. Nevertheless, the entire media spin is still about the inevitable winner Romney and who of them the more conservative anti-Romney is gonna be.
Paul, however, also came in third in Iowa, getting more than 22 percent there (Romney had 40). After Romney, he has the biggest ground operation in the country. So while the only thing you’ll probably read about in the big media is Romney’s victory, Paul is doing really good in this election cycle (the best ever). He’s also vastly outperforming Romney among independents and under-30 voters.
Now check out Paul’s speech from yesterday night. This is not an Obama-style speech, filled with brilliant rhetorical heights; but it is so authentic and great to watch, this old guy surrounded by his supporters talking about foreign wars, the military-industrial complex and liberty. Of course, the stuff about the Fed is unbearable, but nevertheless, it’s great watching this:
Now compare that to this dickhead who’s talking here. Surrounded by his dickhead douchebag sons. A robot designed to win elections, full of arrogance, contempt and boastfulness. It’s the Ugly American right there, I’m sorry to say:
There is no primary. There is no general. There is only this: I am Mitt Romney’s haircut. This is my year, and I will not be denied. Everything about me is presidential. You may not even know why, but you’ve all thought it, and that’s no accident. I’ve been designed precisely for this moment. I’m a hybrid of every classic American presidential hairstyle since the 1930s. Roosevelt’s fatherly gray temples. Kennedy’s insouciant bouffant. Reagan’s lethal, revolutionary amalgam of feathering and pomade.
In addition, read this great article about the current quandary for liberals and progressives, whether to support Paul or Obama. In case you’ve been following the discussion in the comments, it almost perfectly encapsulates what was being said there. Here’s the dilemma:
To review the basic Paul profile: When it comes to government social spending and regulation, Paul is more antithetical to progressive goals than any candidate running for the White House. This is indisputable. At the same time, though, when it comes to war, surveillance, police power, bank bailouts, cutting the defense budget, eliminating corporate welfare and civil liberties, Paul is more in line with progressive goals than any candidate running in 2012 (or almost any Democrat who has held a federal office in the last 30 years). This, too, is indisputable.
In seeing Paul’s economic views, positions on a woman’s right to choose, regulatory ideas and ties to racist newsletters as disqualifying factors for their electoral support, many self-identified liberal Obama supporters are essentially deciding that, for purposes of voting, those set of issues are simply more important to them than the issues of war, foreign policy, militarism, Wall Street bailouts, surveillance, police power and civil liberties that is, issues in which Paul is far more progressive than the sitting
There’s certainly a logic to that position, and that logic fits within the conventionally accepted rubric of progressivism. But let’s not pretend here: Holding this position about what is and is not a disqualifying factor is a clear statement of priorities — more specifically, a statement that Paul’s odious economics, regulatory ideas, position on reproductive rights and ties to bigotry should be more electorally disqualifying than President Obama’s odious escalation of wars, drone killing of innocents, due-process-free assassinations, expansion of surveillance, increases in the defense budget, massive ongoing bank bailouts and continuation of the racist drug war.
By contrast, Paul’s progressive-minded supporters are simply taking the other position — they are basically saying that, for purposes of voting, President Obama’s record on militarism, civil liberties, foreign policy, defense budgets and bailouts are more disqualifying than Paul’s newsletter, economics, abortion and regulatory positions. Again, there’s an obvious logic to this position — one that also fits well within the conventional definition of progressivism. And just as Obama supporters shouldn’t pretend they aren’t expressing their preferences, Paul’s supporters shouldn’t do that either. Their support of the Republican congressman is a statement of personal priorities within the larger progressive agenda.
A statement like the one done by Rick Santorum below, in 2005, honestly makes me physically nautious:
This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone. That there is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
The worst danger in politics, in my view, is groups (mostly, but not always, religious and conservatives) that try to restrict the freedoms of individuals from one particular mindset. In the Netherlands, we have the religious left and right attempting to do that. In the US, there’s the Christianists and evangelicals. Of these, the curently rising Santorum probably represents the most extremist incarnation.
The New Republic has compiled a list of the most awful shit Santorum has said. If you can bear it, read it.
On the Catholic Church’s abuse scandals: “Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.”
On same sex marriage and bestiality: “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality…”
On the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s decision to approve same sex marriage: “This is an issue just like 9/11. We didn’t decide we wanted to fight the war on terrorism because we wanted to. It was brought to us. And if not now, when? When the supreme courts in all the other states have succumbed to the Massachusetts version of the law?”
On the link between same sex marriage and national security: “I would argue that the future of America hangs in the balance, because the future of the family hangs in the balance. Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?”
On the war in Iraq: “As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It’s being drawn to Iraq. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the eye to come back to the United States.”
On contraception: “Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
On the Affordable Care Act: “I would tell you that my first priority as a president of the United States is to repeal Barack Obama’s healthcare plan. I think it’s the most dangerous piece of legislation, well, in many generations. It is the reason that I’m running for office. Because I believe Obamacare is a game changer. I believe Obamacare will rob America, the best way I can put it is, rob America of its soul.”
On President Obama’s pro-choice stance: “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.’”
On global warming: “I believe the earth gets warmer, and I also believe the earth gets cooler, and I think history points out that it does that and that the idea that man through the production of CO2, which is a trace gas in the atmosphere and the man-made part of that trace gas is itself a trace gas, is somehow responsible for climate change is, I think, just patently absurd when you consider all of the other factors, El Niño, La Niña, sunspots, you know, moisture in the air.”
And they say Christianity is a religion of love.
Yesterday I read somewhere that Newt Gingrich -- the latest insurgent in the Republican presidential race, and current challenger of Mitt Romney -, who is a historian, wrote his Ph.D. thesis in 1971 about ‘Belgian education policy in the Congo: 1945-1960‘.
I thought that was pretty amusing for a former Speaker of the House, author of the 1994 ‘Republican Revolution’, and possible Republican presidential nominee, so I wanted to look it up and blog something about it.
But lo and behold, someone was there first. Robert Paul Wolff at the blog The Philosopher’s Stone read Newt Gingrich’s Ph.D. thesis, so enjoy his review:
Wikipedia informed me that Gingrich did his graduate work in the Tulane history department; the Tulane website took me to the university’s library catalogue; the Duke University Reference Librarian talked me through the download process over the phone [never easy for old guys like me], and there it was: “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo: 1945-1960 A Dissertation Submitted on the Sixth Day of May, 1971 to the Department of History of the Graduate School of Tulane University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Newton Leroy Gingrich.” Two hundred eighty-three pages of text, typed and double-spaced in standard dissertation format, five pages of tables, five pages of “selected bibliography” and a one-page biographical sketch of the author indicating that he was awarded a B.A. by Emory University.
Why on earth Belgian educational policy in the Congo? Newt was studying Modern European History, to be sure, but the topic seems rather obscure. The dissertation lacks the typical page of acknowledgements that might offer a clue, but a bit more surfing of the web reveals that the dissertation director, Professor Pierre Henri Laurent, whose name appears on the signature page, was the son of “an eminent Belgian historian, who died during the Resistance; his mother was a distinguished teacher and linguist. Pierre and his older sister were brought as children to the United States by their mother when the Second World War broke out.” Mystery solved.
The dissertation is written in a pedantic, serviceable prose, giving no evidence of the Newt that was to emerge as a fully formed Toad. Although the dissertation is written entirely in English, the footnotes give evidence that Gingrich had a quite adequate command of written French. [The only word in the entire dissertation not in English or French is misspelled -- Weltanschauung with only one "u" -- page 205, line 2] Gingrich relies heavily on secondary sources, with especial attention to the work of Ruth Slade and Roger Anstey. However, he has clearly made extensive use of Belgian public documents, including reports of Parliamentary debates. There is no evidence in the text that he traveled either to Belgium or to the Congo, and he seems not to have interviewed any of the principal actors, Belgian or Congolese, even though the dissertation was written only a handful of years after the departure of the Belgians from the Congo.
The structure of the dissertation is straightforward: an Introduction, three chapters on the political and historical background of Belgium’s colonization of the Congo, nine chapters on various aspects of the educational institutions introduced by the Belgians into the Congo — religious education, secular education for the Congolese, secular education for Belgians living in the Congo, education for women, agricultural education, technical education, higher education for the Congolese, etc. — and a Conclusion.
The political or ideological orientation of the dissertation, if I may put it this way, is roughly that of a Cold War member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Colonization is seen almost entirely from the perspective of the colonial power, not from that of the indigenous population. The rule of King Leopold II, who literally owned the colony as his private property until, at his death, he willed it to Belgium, is widely understood to have been the most horrifyingly brutal colonial regime in Africa. Gingrich acknowledges this fact once in the dissertation. Speaking of the financial pressures placed by the Congo on King Leopold’s coffers, Gingrich reports that a “state official told a missionary in 1899 that each time a corporal ‘goes out to get rubber he is given cartridges. He must return all those that are not used; and for every one used he must bring back a right hand.’” [p. 15]
But with this sole exception, Gingrich’s picture of the Belgian colonial administration is reasonably favorable. As I read his account of the struggles by dedicated Belgian colonial administrators to provide some measure of formal education to the Congolese, in the face of a generally uninterested and neglectful government in Brussels, I was reminded of nothing so much as the writings of John Stuart Mill on India, and the responsibility of cultivated, enlightened Englishmen to bear the heavy burden of stewardship until the non-European peoples are ready for self-rule.
Although he makes no effort at all to consult the colonized and give voice to their view of the Belgian rule, Gingrich does at one point, rather surprisingly, quote Father Placide Tempels quite favorably and at some length. [pages 100-101.] Tempels was a missionary priest who wrote an important book called Bantu Philosophy. It is the first acknowledgement by a European author that the indigenous peoples of Africa have complex, philosophically sophisticated conceptions of the world and their place in it. I confess that I was surprised and impressed to see Tempels put in an appearance in Gingrich’s dissertation. I was a good deal less pleased by Gingrich’s reliance on the always questionable Colin Turnbull.
- Edit: Also enjoy this interview of Newt Gingrich by Ali G:
Well, maybe not the entire Republican Party consists of idiots. There are insurrectionist rebels, such as Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman. Unfortunately, in today’s GOP they don’t stand a chance. But it is important that their voices are heard, as they represent the last bouts of sanity within that political organization.
Listen to Ron Paul opposing torture vis-a-vis a torture-loving audience. Big-time kudos and respect for this man.
Listen to this man - the frontrunner for the Republican Party nomination.
Is there anyone out there who considers him/herself a serious observer of politics, and wants to keep up the fiction that the Republican Party is a normal, well-functioning political party? An entity that is to be taken seriously? A credible alternative for government?
The Republican Party -- their elected officials, their registered members, and everybody who votes for them -- is a bunch of clowns, morons and idiots that can not in any way be taken seriously. If you do, you can not be taken seriously.
Really: if the US once more elects a Republican for president, the time has come to reconsider the position of America in the world. They will then have voluntarily ceded their position as world leader and adopted a position as, say, Russia or Venezuela. A crazy has-been nation. Time to look for new world leadership then. Maybe China will do.
The One Big Issue has just been inserted into the 2012 presidential election campaign: the Supreme Court will hear a case challenging Obama’s healthcare law. The decision – whether the healthcare reform act, specifically the individual mandate requiring all citizens to purchase healthcare insurance, is constitutional or not – will come in late June 2012, in the midst of the presidential campaign.
As blogged about earlier on here, the healthcare issue is the one big rallying point for conservatives against Obama. If the Supreme Court strikes it down, we may regard Obama’s presidential term as a failure. Moreover, if this Court strikes down the individual mandate as in violation of the Commerce Clause (which allows the federal government to regulate the economy), the floodgates are open. To put it bluntly, the entire regulatory and welfare structure in America as constructed since FDR’s 1930s then comes into jeopardy. It may become the end of the New Deal.
That’s of course the wet dream of every contemporary Tea Partier and Republican. So watch out, as the US economy may be catapulted back to the late 1700s by a conservative Supreme Court…
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to the 2010 health care overhaul law, President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. The development set the stage for oral arguments by March and a decision in late June, in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign.
The court’s decision to step in had been expected, but Monday’s order answered many questions about just how the case would proceed. Indeed, it offered a roadmap toward a ruling that will help define the legacy of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Appeals from three courts had been vying for the justices’ attention, presenting an array of issues beyond the central one of whether Congress has the constitutional power to require people to purchase health insurance or face a penalty through the so-called individual mandate.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear appeals from just one decision, from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, the only one so far striking down the mandate. The decision, from a divided three-judge panel, said the mandate overstepped Congressional authority and could not be justified by the constitutional power “to regulate commerce” or “to lay and collect taxes.”
The appeals court went no further, though, severing the mandate from the rest of the law.
On Monday, the justices agreed to decide not only whether the mandate is constitutional but also whether, if it is not, how much of the balance of the law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, must fall along with it.
The Texas governor’s odyssey continues. Apparently Rick Perry is still under the influence of something, because, well, even Job Cohen would perform better in a debate.
That might be the most uncomfortable moment I’ve ever witnessed in presidential politics.
To my memory, Perry’s forgetfulness is the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate.
Watching Rick Perry fail to recall the third part of his own answer in tonight’s debate was like watching a thoroughbred get euthanized on the track. It was shocking, grisly and impossible to look away.
[N]obody should be allowed to get away with hazily waving at whole cabinet departments without talking about what, exactly, it is they’re saying should happen. My strong suspicion is that Perry actually has no idea what the scope of the Energy department’s defense-related activities are and is just running his mouth off.
- Edit: And Andrew Sullivan‘s reaction says all you need to know about the Republican Party. What a bunch of morons.
At this point, I have begun to really lose it watching this crew. There are only two faintly plausible, credible presidents up there, both Mormons. The rest is beyond an embarrassment, and at this moment in history, the sheer paucity of that talent is alarming.
Ex-senator Rick Santorum is one of the most repulsive conservative Republican bigots out there. He’s also a presidential candidate. A fundamentalist Catholic, he’s known for comparing homosexuality to incest and bestiality. Santorum is officially against the right to have consensual sex in one’s private home, and blames the Catholic Church’s child molestation scandals on “political and cultural liberalism”.
In response to all this, blogger and gay activist Dan Savage started a campaign to have the name “Santorum” on Google linked to another, yet unspecified definition. Asking his readers to come up with a new definition, the end result was this: “Santorum: The frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”
So to this day, when you Google “santorum“, well, just see what pops up…
And now, poor Rick Santorum has a “Google problem”, and is whining to the media about it. Aww.
A Google search for Santorum has generated some inappropriate results since gay columnist Dan Savage organized an online campaign to link graphic sexual terms to the socially conservative senator’s name.
Now, the Republican presidential candidate says he’s convinced Google could do something to remedy the issue, if the company wanted to.
“I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they’d get rid of it,” Santorum said. “If you’re a responsible business, you don’t let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country.”
He continued: “To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can’t handle but I suspect that’s not true.”
Santorum has acknowledged his widely covered “Google problem” in the past, but his contact with the company is a newer development.
UPDATE: A Google spokesperson responded to Santorum by advising that users who want “content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly.”
“Google’s search results are a reflection of the content and information that is available on the web. Users who want content removed from the Internet should contact the webmaster of the page directly,” the spokesperson said. “Once the webmaster takes the page down from the web, it will be removed from Google’s search results through our usual crawling process.”
The spokesperson said that Google does not “remove content from our search results, except in very limited cases such as illegal content and violations of our webmaster guidelines.”
Check out this video from yesterday night’s CNN/Tea Party debate for Republican presidential candidates. Wolf Blitzer asks libertarian Ron Paul the hypothetical question what should happen when a 30-something who doesn’t have health insurance gets terminally sick.
At the point when Blitzer asks “Should society let him die?”, the Tea Party crowd starts to cheer and scream “Yeah!”:
My esteem for the American voter -- at least, this subsection of the American electorate, of which I really don’t know how representative it is for the American voter at large anymore - could not sink any lower.
Republicans really are monstrous, barbarous animals. You’d almost wish some deadly, painful disease upon these ‘people’ themselves.
Because this incident does not stand alone. Watch this excerpt from the previous GOP debate, in which the interviewer mentions that under Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, the most inmates ever -- 264 people -- have been executed. Check out the reaction of the audience:
I mean, what is there left to say? Really?
The latest Republican presidential hopeful, Texas Governor Rick Perry, is, as should be clear by now, a complete lunatic. Possibly even a greater lunatic than Sarah Palin. But although Perry’s taken lots of flak the last few days, nothing beats this ad that was paid for by a Ron Paul supporter in the Austin Chronicle yesterday:
LOL. Wonder what that is all about. Note the Star Wars font too. More here.
Michael Lind has an interesting political analysis up at Salon.com on the three fundamentalisms that nowadays mark the Republican right: Biblical fundamentalism, constitutional fundamentalism and market fundamentalism. I think this is a way of putting things that is largely correct. The Republican Party is now so far removed from any other political party in the Western world that it can only be described in these terms.
It does not explain, however, the seeming contradictions in this fundamentalist philosophy; for example, how can you adhere to a hardcore market fundamentalism along the lines of Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand, and at the same time claim to be a Bible-following Christian? After all, the teachings of Christ have nothing to do with considering selfishness a virtue. Rand, who along with God and the Founding Fathers is always named the greatest inspiration for every Republican presidential candidate, herself proclaimed to be anti-Christian in her ‘thinking’.
Lind also shows how the intellectual project of re-constituting a moderate conservatism as a political ideology in the 1960s led, by and large propelled by the rise of evangelical Protestantism and the presidency of Ronald Reagan, to the extremist fundamentalism that nowadays marks the Republican Party. All of the hallmarks of Biblical, constitutional and market fundamentalism can be found, for example, in the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.
What I’m worried about (as if the adherence to a triple fundamentalism by one of the world’s two most important political parties is not frightening enough) is the emergence of a similar kind of orthodoxy emerging in the Netherlands today. Whereas the Dutch polity used to be marked by agreement across the political spectrum on such issues as the multicultural society (in hindsight perhaps a bit too much consensus in that respect), political equality, tolerance for differences and care for weaker groups in society, the governing coalition nowadays seems to converge ideologically to adherence to a monocultural society, treating people with non-Dutch backgrounds as second-class citizens, and implementing a by European standards pretty hardcore market fundamentalism.
In other words: rightwing orthodoxy in Europe, at least in the Netherlands, is intensifying and growing more extreme just like it has in the US. The question is how those still believing in political equality, a rights-based citizenship, and a market tempered by government interference can defend themselves in an increasingly hostile climate, in which such very basic and once universally accepted notions are painted ‘elitist’.
Anyway, here’s Lind’s piece:
In contradiction to the hostility to Darwinism shared by many of its constituents, the American right is evolving rapidly before our eyes. The project of creating an American version of Burkean conservatism has collapsed. What has replaced it is best described as triple fundamentalism — a synthesis of Biblical fundamentalism, constitutional fundamentalism and market fundamentalism.
Following World War II, the American right was a miscellany of marginal, embittered subcultures — anti-New Dealers, isolationists, paranoid anticommunists, anti-semites and white supremacists. Russell Kirk and others associated with William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review sought to Americanize a version of high-toned British Burkean conservatism. While the eighteenth century British parliamentarian was embraced by conservatives for his opposition to the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, a champion of the rights of Britain’s Indian, Irish and American subjects, could also be claimed by liberals like Yale Law School’s Alexander Bickel, who preferred gradual, cautious reform to radical social experimentation. In its liberal as in its conservative forms, Burkeanism disdains reaction and radicalism alike, and favors change in lesser things when necessary to maintain the continuity of more fundamental institutions and values.
The religious equivalent of Burkean politics is orthodoxy, not fundamentalism. Orthodoxy means the continuity of a tradition, as interpreted by an authoritative body of experts, such as priests, rabbis or mullahs. The term “fundamentalism” originated in the early twentieth century as a description of reactionary evangelical Protestants in the U.S. who rejected liberal Protestantism and modern evolutionary science and insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible. The phrase is nowadays applied indiscriminately and often inaccurately to various religious movements, some of which, in the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim traditions are better described as ultra-orthodox.
The increasingly-Southernized American Right has transferred the fundamentalist Protestant mentality from the sphere of religion to the spheres of law and the economy. Protestant fundamentalism is now joined by constitutional fundamentalism and market fundamentalism.
In all three cases, the pattern is the same. There is the eternal Truth that never varies — the will of God, the principles of the Founding Fathers, the so-called laws of the free market. There are the scriptures which explain the eternal truths — the King James Bible, in the case of religious fundamentalism, the Constitution or the Federalist Papers, in the case of constitutional fundamentalism, and Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom in the case of market fundamentalism (The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand can be substituted for Hayek, on request).
“There’s only one book you ever need to read,” a Bible-believin’ Texan Baptist once assured me. He was two books short of a populist conservative bookshelf. But in the age of post-intellectual, fundamentalist conservatism, three books are sufficient to make anyone the equal of the most erudite intellectual. The books need not actually be read, and for the most part probably are not; it is enough, in argument, to thump the Bible, and to thump “The Road to Serfdom” and “Atlas Shrugged,” too.
Modern American market fundamentalism, too, is recognizably modeled on the fundamentalist Protestant version of church history, even though market fundamentalists need not be Christian conservatives. Ignoring the long history of tariffs, land grants, military procurement and mixed public-private corporations in the United States, the market fundamentalists pretend that the U.S. was governed by the laws of the market until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal replaced capitalism with socialism (or statism, or fascism, or whatever Amity Shlaes or Jonah Goldberg want to call it). Russell Kirk wrote that any true conservative would be a socialist before he would be a libertarian. But then he was a Burkean High Church conservative.
The rise of triple fundamentalism on the American right creates a crisis of political discourse in the United States. Back when conservatism was orthodox and traditional, rather than fundamentalist and counter-revolutionary, conservatives could engage in friendly debates with liberals, and minds on both sides could now and then be changed. But if your sect alone understands the True Religion and the True Constitution and the Laws of the Market, then there is no point in debate. All those who disagree with you are heretics, to be defeated, whether or not they are converted.
For their part, progressives have no idea of how to respond to the emergent right’s triple fundamentalism. Today it is the left, not the right, that is Burkean in America. Modern American liberalism is disillusioned, to the point of defeatism, by the frustration of the utopian hopes of 1960s liberalism in the Age of Reagan that followed and has not yet ended. Today it is liberals, not conservatives, who tend to be cautious and incremental and skeptical to a fault about the prospects for reform, while it is the right that wants to blow up the U.S. economy and start all over, on the basis of the doctrines of two Austrian professors and a Russian émigré novelist.
You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.
Hell yeah. Additionally, McDonald has set up a Facebook page for donations and petitions:
In the wake of his announced “yes” vote for same-sex marriage, [Republican] Sen. Roy McDonald has unveiled a facebook page called “Stand With Roy” and urges supporters to donate and sign a petition. The page itself has more than 10,000 “likes” Monday morning. … When McDonald announced he [said] he was unconcerned about the impact it would have on his re-election chances. The lawmakers’ announcement, along with his blunt responses to questions about same-sex marriage, made him something of a star.
I’d like to note, by the way, that this GOP senator is more progressive on this issue than Barack Obama, who seemed to be for same-sex marriage before he was against it (before running as a candidate, of course). Yet, there’s indications that he might come out to support it in 2012, although I highly doubt it.
She probably means the emissions of her own vanity and megalomania.
Sarah Palin’s ride through Washington on a Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG) motorcycle yesterday as part of the Rolling Thunder “Ride for Freedom” put her back in the national spotlight as the race for the Republican presidential nomination is revving up.
The former Alaska governor joined about 400,000 bikers for the annual ride, which coincided with the first leg of a bus tour that is renewing speculation about her 2012 White House ambitions.
Palin, who had no official speaking role at the event, arrived wearing a helmet and rode on the back of a Harley from the Pentagon toward the Vietnam War Memorial. Rolling Thunder, which began in 1988, was established by Vietnam veterans to draw attention to missing service members and prisoners of war. Palin’s husband, Todd, and daughters Piper and Bristol also took part in the ride.
In a posting on her political action committee website, the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate said Rolling Thunder, through the roar of tens of thousands of bike engines, keeps alive the Memorial Day spirit of honoring veterans.
“I love that smell of emissions,” Palin told Fox News at yesterday’s rally.
Palin’s campaign-style “One Nation Tour” by bus from Washington through New England could be a prelude to a bid for the Republican nomination — or an effort to command the spotlight as the competition heats up.
“Is this bus tour a trial run for a planned race, or is it an attempt to remain visible and relevant?” asked Charlie Cook, publisher of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. “You can count all the people who really know what Sarah Palin is thinking and planning on one hand.”
Gaat Sarah Palin zich mengen in de strijd om de Republikeinse nominatie voor het presidentschap? Met die vraag worstelen politieke commentatoren en kiezers al maanden, zoniet jaren. Na haar gooi naar het vice-presidentschap in 2008, heeft Palin zich vooral geprofileerd als talking head bij conservatieve media en als jagende, vissende en houthakkende hockey mom van vier in Alaska. Haar PAC (Political Action Committee: officiële organisatie die campagnegeld ophaalt) is al ruim twee jaar bezig met het verzamelen van campagnegeld, maar het duurt nu wel erg lang voordat Palin zich officieel als kandidaat presenteert. Omdat ze zo lang op zich liet wachten begon het gemeengoed te worden dat ze uiteindelijk niet zou gaan voor een presidential run, want ze verdiende immers miljoenen met haar werk als spreker, politiek commentator en televisiemaker en zou het risico niet willen lopen. Een enkeling ging nog uit van een kandidaatschap. Gisteren kwam er echter nieuws naar buiten dat er sterk op wijst dat ze toch mee gaat doen.
Het blijkt namelijk dat ze al maanden, samen met regisseur Stepen K. Bannon, stiekem aan het werk is aan een documentaire. Deze 1 miljoen dollar kostende rolprent gaat over haar inmiddels neergelegde werk als gouverneur van de staat Alaska, een gevoelig onderwerp waarop ze recentelijk hard is aangevallen door haar politieke tegenstanders. Met deze docu wil ze laten zien dat ze echt wel een goede gouverneur was, hoor, en dat ze dus heel serieus genomen kan worden als ambtsdrager. Waarom besteed je een miljoen dollar aan zo’n documentaire? Juist… omdat je niet kan schrijven en toch president wil worden. Of haar ego moet zo groot zijn dat ze ten kosten van alles en zonder enig doel een smetteloze reputatie nastreeft. Het lijkt er in ieder geval sterk op dat ze expres lang gewacht heeft met het aankondigen van haar kandidaatschap om er vervolgens in een later stadium hard in te komen, met deze documentaire, genaamd The Undefeated, dus.
Ze gaat runnen. Maar gaat ze ook winnen? Blijkt na de primary in South Carolina dat ze de Republikeinse kandidaat wordt en verslaat ze daarna Obama in november? Waarschijnlijk niet. Palin is nog steeds maar bij een minderheid van het Republikeinse electoraat populair (35%) en haar favorability onder alle Amerikaanse kiezers is nog een stukje lager (31-32%). Ter vergelijking, Obama scoort op dit moment 44% en dat is al erg laag, en Palin’s belangrijkste tegenstander Mitt Romney scoort 45%. Of een zelfgeproduceerde en ingesproken documentaire daar iets aan zal veranderen is de vraag. Dat moet dan een documentaire worden met de overredingskracht van 10 keer Michael Moore. Onder het Tea Party-volk is ze nog steeds populair. Maar om straks een meerderheid van alle Amerikanen achter zich te krijgen heeft ze nog wel erg veel werk te verzetten. Het zal vooral neerkomen op de indruk die ze achterlaat tijdens de grote televisiedebatten. Als ze zich daar kan neerzetten als meer dan een goedlachse, oneliner-uitspuwende, krijsende moeder en ook als een inhoudelijk sterke en representatieve ambtsdrager, dan zou ze misschien op bredere steun kunnen rekenen.
Haar optredens tijdens interviews en debatten in de aanloop naar de verkiezingen in 2008 voorspellen voor haar wat dat betreft helaas weinig goeds. De McCain-campagne kwam meerdere malen voor vervelende verrassingen te staan als Palin weer iets doms had gezegd. Zelfs Roger Ailes, de directeur van Fox News, noemt haar tegenwoordig een “idiot”. Haar campagne zal meer in de traditie liggen van die van Donald Trump: een belachelijk circus, dat zorgt voor veel media exposure voor de “kandidaat”, dat journalisten doet handenwrijven vanwege een gestage stroom aan gaffes, rellen en malle oneliners, maar waar Obama uiteindelijk zijn schouders voor zal ophalen. De race om het presidentschap is een serieuze zaak voor serieuze mensen en niet bestemd voor clowns. Het Amerikaanse volk, hoewel (net als andere volken) erg gevoelig voor populisten en andere raddraaiers, zal uiteindelijk eieren voor haar geld kiezen en stemmen op een geloofwaardige kandidaat.