It has come to this. A little more than half of America is having to do the hard work of governing for all of America. All the important debates are taking place within the Democratic Party, with a little help from independents who still think for themselves.
From the Blue Dog center to the progressive left, negotiations are held, positions are argued, compromises achieved, and the game is won and lost.
The right has forfeited. They don't even pretend to play. Karl Rove could ghostwrite the Declaration of Independence, but if it had Obama's signature at the bottom, 41 Republican senators would filibuster it to death.
The Republicans have surrendered to the brick-throwers, the radio-ranters, the nullification nihilists; they've hitched their falling stars to the wretchedly deluded of the earth.
Angst above, anger below. That's what's left of a once-great party.
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Their elite political class is in denial, driven half mad by a loss of power they refuse to accept. Their base is completely mad, driven crazy by unnamed fears and conspiracies that exist only in their diseased imaginations.
I don't like those people, and they can be dangerous, but I feel for them, a little. There is a reason they are so unanimous in their clenched-jawed denunciation of damned near everything the government does or wants to do, and so empty of ideas and solutions.
Those tea-baggers aren't expressing opinions; they are presenting symptoms. They feel pain; their lives aren't what they dreamed they would be. They feel alienated; the nation, which never belonged to them in the first place, no longer belongs to Overlords who kind of look like them.
Their suffering has no locus, they are like patients with migrating pain, they feel terrible and they don't know why. They live in a bleak world, where everything is going wrong, and they're too terrified to embrace the change that could make it better. So they oppose, and when that doesn't relieve the pain they oppose loudly, and when that doesn't help they curse and scream, and a few go beyond incivility into illegality.
But it's all nostalgia for a golden time that never was; a cry for a return to an ancien regime that never existed. And if it did, they were peasants.
The Republican elites didn't start this trend, but they're sure riding it hard. This isn't the first time populist rage was ginned up and exploited by the political classes; it's happened many times in history, by the right and the left. And history shows only two outcomes from that shotgun wedding. Either it fizzles out, like Huey Long and Father Coughlin, or it succeeds in destroying itself and taking society with it, like Robespierre and Rwanda.
Pin a Pollyanna badge on my lapel, right under my flag pin, but I believe America is better than that. I'm not saying, "it can't happen here." I'm saying it won't.
Which leaves us with a lot of governing to do, a lot of issues to decide, and many debates to be had, all by ourselves.
Politics and policy don't come to a screeching halt merely because 41 senators have one answer to every question. The useless unanimity of the right, the conscience of a conservative degenerated into mob rule of the loudest and loutist, the loyal opposition turned exhibitionists, competing to see who can flash the most rage-reddened skin while trading purity rings in a pathetic attempt to regain their long-lost ideological virginity all make for fun entertainment. But they don't move forward
the body politic.
It's up to the Democrats to do that. All the important debates on the questions of the day will be, are being decided inside one party.
Are corporations inherently evil or can they be tamed with rules and regulations? And if so, what ones and how much? Are we fighting the right wars? Should we be fighting any wars at all? What are our goals in Iraq and Afghanistan, are they achievable, are they just, are we on the right side?
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