Whigging Out

Been so caught up on other blog sites, making sure no one is deprived of my opinion :-), that I’ve been neglecting my own site. A lot has happened since my last post: John McCain, pandering to the lowest common denominator in his party (i.e. rednecks and militant pseudo-Christians), made the most absurd vice presidential pick in the history of the country in Sarah Palin.  I have sprained my elbow patting myself on the back for the prescience of my August 10 post. There is no better example of someone who doesn’t know what they don’t know rising through the ranks and achieving positions of power than Mrs. Palin.  But enough of that already (it was so three weeks ago).

Oh yeah, and the financial markets came close (or so we are told) to complete collapse, necessitating a bailout in the $700 billion range, leaving congress to scramble as they try to figure out if the administration is trying to hoodwink them into signing another blank check (note to congress: “fool me once” and all that).

So why do the Republicans have ANY support among Americans right now?  There are some very smart people who are more sanguine than I that recent events will spell the end of the Republican party. Jim Kunstler’s new post, “Falling into Fall,” provides a very persuasive argument, using historical antecedents (Civil War era Whigs), for just such an outcome. I think there are some important differences, however, between his example and the circumstances we find ourselves in today. Most importantly, I don’t think we can underestimate the frightening extremity of the political ideology of today’s neo-conservative right–the subset of conservatives who appear to have hi-jacked their party for the past two decades–compared with the Whigs. With the rise of neo-conservative movement, conservative politics morphed from a strongly held secular belief about what was best for country (right or wrong) to a near religious fanaticism that justified the truly anti-American, anti-Constitution activities of its adherents over the past 20+ years. Despite ample and repeated evidence that their policies don’t work and are destructive, they simply cannot cognitively reconcile the failure of their politics with the fervor of their belief system and sincerely delude themselves that someone else is at fault.

According to recent polls, 83% of the country believes America is on the wrong track. However, among likely voters, at least 43% STILL are planning to vote for a man who essentially embodies this failed ideological agenda. Where is the disconnect?  This is why I don’t see the Republican party going the way of the Whigs. Through fear, deception and targeted manipulation of Americans who want to believe that everything is the fault of some amorphous domestic or foreign enemy (because, IMO, a fair number of our fellow citizens are intellectually lazy and buying the paternalistic neocon line is easier than honestly facing and dealing with our real problems) they have transcended typical party loyalty and are, in effect, a new religion.

The pro-slavery faction during the Civil War and current strident neo-conservative Republicans share two other traits that do not bode well for an easy reconciliation in our divided country: Hate and self-righteous anger. We have been conditioned to it by years of Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, but it is not normal or decent for human beings to promote such noxious views with no social consequences. Like the anti-slavery North, the Left has been entirely too mild in its push back, allowing morally repugnant behavior to become an accepted norm. It is unlikely that people bound by an ideology that incites hatred will be willing to relinquish their position. Seriously, how bad does it need to get before these guys back down?

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