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Life Arts    H3'ed 2/27/13

The Politics of Self-Destruction: Is the 'Stupid Party' that Stupid?

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Republicans aren't just having a bad season, a bad year or bad election cycle. When a shrinking minority, bereft of rebuilding moves, starts hurling thunderbolts at each other, we can project bad decades. Not so long ago, rightwingers began leaping off cliffs and denying reality, so unfazed by repeated failure they went whole hog, denying their own denial. So rather than adapt, like any healthy, evolving organism, the GOP got stuck in a quicksand of losing endgames rife with rancor, bigotry and negation. Not only can't the right fix stupid, its party ineptly tears itself apart while boosting the bemused, undeserving opposition.

 

Since the post-Iraq, post-Katrina Dubya disgrace, what happy headline (except the 2010 House coup) heartens the aging, raging band of GOP crusaders? Not this firmer White House, not this Senate, not harsh public opinion, not legislative wins, and certainly not inescapable demographics. With bloody handwriting on the rightwing wall, when exactly is everything over but the shouting? More Americans than not find the GOP out of touch (62%), too extreme (52%) and resistant to change, according to a Pew poll released Tuesday. Party favorability nears 30%, with no bottom in sight.

 

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Salon's Steve Kornacki exposes the latest, self-made land mine in "The GOP's Ted Cruz Problem:" the party's not yet "doomed, but it does need a reboot -- a reboot that's difficult to envision as long as the party's base continues to celebrate behavior like Cruz's   . . . [that's] a major obstacle to the ideological modernization that the Republican Party is desperately in need of." While we applaud the good news -- the Reagan-Bush coalition is kaput -- there will be inevitable fallout: dying parties leave large, stinking corpses before the air clears. Plus, as the right rode ferocity to success, brace for incendiary gang warfare that will demonize enemies, inside and out. Hard to imagine party rebranding as in-fighting divides the factions quicker than overstuffed bacteria.

 

Behold the two basic warring factions: in this corner, the corporate establishment (low taxes, low regulations, state subsidies) vs. a motley Limbaugh mess of anti-tax Tea Partiers, evangelical fundamentalists (and anti-abortionists), NRA purists, plus fringier insurgents, gun nuts, and secessionist militias. The TP over-reaction to Karl Rove, branding him a Nazi stormtrooper, dramatizes how firebrands plan to battle "establishment" shills messing in "their" primaries. As Politico's Mike Tomasky summarizes, "The problem is that [so much GOP] is fanatical - a machine of rage, hate, and resentment . . . we've never seen anything like this in the modern history of our country. There's a symbiosis of malevolence between the extreme parts of the GOP base and Washington lawmakers, and it is destroying the Republican Party."

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Scoring the Fast Food Fights

 

Already, a year ago partisans like Fred Barnes bewailed the "Republican death wish," by which dingbats keep doing "something crazy or stupid that diminishes their election prospects." Shoot-from-the-hip campaigners infected all, as the Akins-Mourdock dinosaurs dive-bombed. And the "legitimate rape" spectacle crowned months of GOP primary self-abuse, including my favorite moment: when the "free enterprise party" attacked Romney's "predatory capitalism." Such bedlam must have unnerved Mitt, who then blundered as often as possible, veering between appalling flip-flops and censure hurled at the 47%. The election trauma then oozed like poison into post-election GOP fiascoes, whether boldly shielding the rich from dreadful taxation or decimating government over imagined "fiscal cliffs" or melodramatic sequestration.

 

No wonder Dick Polman presumes a "GOP bloodbath, already in progress," for even Tea Partier Matt Kibbe conceded "gang warfare." Ditto, from ex-Dubya adviser, Mark McKinnon:

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All sanity seems to have left the ranks of those in charge of the GOP. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the party is against everything and for nothing. That's not governing. That's just lobbing hand grenades. And the GOP is shrinking daily before our eyes.

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)
 

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