In the 1960s the Republican Party had two wings, the Rockefeller Republicans who were moderate on a social agenda, conservative on fiscal policy and hawkish on foreign policy. Then there were the Goldwater Republicans, hard right, quiet members of the John Birch society. They were conservative in all things and firmly believed that the best government was no government.
No government only gets you Somalia with bandits and pirates, so when they said no government they meant only no government programs of assistance. Their goal was a government small enough to be subservient to the business community. The problem they faced was that most Americans were against those policies, especially since the public benefited from government programs. So these Republicans responded by changing the political dialog. They were going to get government off your back because they were compassionate conservatives.
Over time rivers change their course, great trees grow and then fall away. To get elected Bill Clinton called himself a centrist Democrat which was in fact a Rockefeller Republican. The Republican Party answered by going further and further to the right until what we have in this country is two wings of one party, the Clinton Republicans and the Cheneyists.
Over the course of my life I have been fascinated by the rise of National Socialism in Germany. I was amazed that an intelligent and educated people could be convinced that good was bad and bad was good. This is a funny story, you'll like this. For fun in the 1920s the fascist brown shirts liked to break up their opponents' political rallies. The brown shirts were what today we would call rednecks and gang member types. Well, breaking up the Social Democrats' rallies or the Catholic Party rallies wasn't much fun at all, being as they were only a bunch of middle-class old folks, middle manager geek types and housewives.
Then, when they tried to break up the Communist Party rallies, that's where the fun began. The Communists liked to fight just as much as the National Socialists did. There were plenty of young people in the Communist Party. Suddenly the brown shirts discovered an immortal truth: "It's only fun to fight if you stand a chance of winning!" Fifty or sixty brown shirts kicked in the doors to a meeting hall only to be confronted by three hundred young Communists. Not only did the fascists tote home an ass kicking, but also the crowd loved it!
History is like a river, there is nothing that happens that isn't related to all other events. You can't run a mile down the bank and pronounce it a new river. It's still the same river and the same politics. What you see in front of you is political theater; it's all wrestlemania. Now imagine just for the sake of argument that you used your influence to get George W. Bush elected President of the United States. Say you picked up the phone and called the Supreme Court and told them what you wanted. Now, looking from that perspective, was the Presidency of George W. Bush a success or a failure?
The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Wages for working people went flat, defense expenditures soared and the neocon dream of a two-theater war was achieved. The Patriot Act was passed and civil liberties curtailed. The economic collapse effectively makes possible a continued wealth transfer from the middle class to the investment class; so from that perspective the Presidency of George W. Bush was a raging success. Except the public was very upset and very angry and the election was coming up. So what do you do? What would you do if you held the power behind the throne?
The Republicans were in for a hammering at the ballot box no matter who ran because the public was upset by the antics of an inarticulate, arrogant, smirking cowboy. Now what sort of candidate would be the antithesis of George W. Bush? He or she would have to be articulate and friendly, a well-educated man or woman of the people, sort of. Very friendly, kindly with a nice smile and maybe even with a nice family ala Kennedy. Now how would you hedge that bet? How would you make sure that your guy wins?
You could run a real old guy against him, a guy with a reputation for having a bad temper. A guy with a history of running poor Presidential campaigns. Then, as the general election is moving closer and the old crank is still within striking distance, you pull from your bag of tricks" a nobody! Someone with no national political experience whatsoever. A kook, a screwball, but where could you find someone willing to sacrifice their whole political career for a day trip on the Titanic? The key would be to find someone with office that doesn't have a lot of money and then you promise them to exchange one for the other.
You get your new guy elected and he continues the Bush agenda but with a friendly smile. Wall Street is happy with the free money policy, the health care industry is happy. GM and Chrysler got their debts and pension liabilities erased so they're happy. The wars continue and are even expanded so the neocons are happy.
So how do you handle the problem of the disenfranchised and the dispossessed? You create your own party of so-called disenfranchised and they hold rallies and scream, "The Communist's are taking over," when it's glaringly obvious the opposite is true. The most obvious sign that these groups are a fraud is the broken clock rule, even a broken clock is correct twice a day. But these Cheneyists and freebooters are always wrong. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, which means they are being led to the wrong answers. Who would lead them to the wrong answers?
Health care reform is too expensive but the war in Afghanistan is protecting our freedom.