What was once journalism is now a non-stop variety show of punditry, complete with flashy graphics, musical scores, and just for authenticity, the occasional cutaway to car crashes and fires and obituaries. Of course, a whole panoply of stars, boldface names both old and new are have emerged – but there has only been one topic, and the missing, contrasting story is really the more fascinating.
Week after week, television news, popular internet websites, magazines, and, perhaps most egregious of all, talk radio have provided nearly no real news. Of course this is hardly novel, as the levels of information available in the United States have slipped lower and lower for decades, proportionally supplanted by government propaganda (analysis of which is considered unpatriotic) but the last six months have proven so outrageously bad, that they – the media in question – have limited themselves to just one subject: the Obama & Clinton Show. Meanwhile, what about the other Party? Something very compelling has been happening in the Republican race.
At the very least, the untold parallel story of the Republican primaries, which, for the 99% of you who had no way of knowing, have continued alongside the Democratic primaries, and received almost no coverage. Oddly enough, the Republican primaries would have made a more interesting story because although John McCain has been the “presumptive Republican nominee” since January, as late as last month, McCain barely eeked out 70% in the Pennsylvania primary, with 11% going to Mike Huckabee, who had officially dropped out in February, and 16% for Ron Paul. In Idaho, just last week, Ron Paul received 24% in the Republican primary – an astounding figure considering the public has been fed virtually no information indicating that McCain has any opponents at all! Huckabee has consistently managed to pick up 7-10% in each state, mopping up the core religious right wing remains of the dying Republican generation. But the Ron Paul phenomenon is fascinating to me, because the Republican primaries don’t net proportional delegate representation, as the democrats do. If they did, there would still be a race going on there. As it is, what does the Ron Paul phenomenon portend?
The Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in September may have a big surprise in the form of dissent from within. Only it won’t be liberal Democrats and anarchists in the streets; it will be millions of Republicans who have been trying to register their opposition to the War, to deficit spending, and to the “Imperial Presidency” (or, as Dick Cheney calls it, the “Unitary Executive” – a concept heretofore unknown in the United States). While there are many aspects to Dr. Paul’s libertarian platform that are anathema to my liberal sensibilities, I find it encouraging that so many Republicans are expressing – albeit with no voice afforded them by the media – a desire to return to a form of conservatism that is more rock-ribbed Eisenhower than reactionary Rove.