Paul Krugman succinctly sums up the relationship among Fox News, Rightist Talk Radio, political extremism and now murders. He says in passing, “And at this point, whatever dividing line there was between mainstream conservatism and the black-helicopter crowd seems to have been virtually erased.”
Here at STSOZ we’ve discussed and diagnosed the differences among the Movement, its various strands and ‘Republicans” since 2004. The Movement is the controlling parasite astride its enfeebled Republican host. The Movement’s reaction to Obama’s victory only underscores the point.
Seemingly bright ‘mainstream media’ still do not understand the dichotomy. Or its implications. They still treat ‘Republicans’ and Democrats as equivalent political actors playing the same game by the same rules for the same prizes. As long as relative neophytes view politics in this prism, the Movement wins.
What we here at STSOZ call the Movement within the conservative base always plays a different game for a different prize. The Movement may speak in normal political talking points from ‘Republican’ institutions. Yet is is not committed to Dahl-esque pluralistic politics. It has has never sought compromise or ‘moderation’. That’s because for the Movement, politics is existential warfare. Compromise is defeat.
Because Krugman et al. fail to grasp the fundamental difference between the Movement, the former Republican Party and the Democratic Party, talking heads refer to the Movement as the ‘Republican base’. As if somehow the Movement and its Manichean zero-sum nihilism is the same as the Democratic base. Say the the Sierra Club or unions. How one can be a professional political analyst and assume a base is a base is a base. Well, we live in truly decadent (technically defined) times.
It wasn’t always like this, of course. The Republican Party as an independent actor and entity was able to keep the Movement within bounds. But after Reagan, and especially the Bush debacle in ’92, the Movement learned to seize power on its own within and without the Republican Party. As a sign of their increased power, the Movement’s rage, paranoia, and conspiracy fever in 1993 seemed novel. By 1994 and certainly 2000 the Movement had completed its subversion of the Republican Party.
Wonder why after Obama the ferocity is turned up to 11? The answer is intrinsic to the Movement as functional social, cultural and political creature. It governed for 6 years and hung on for 2 more. Its Counter-Enlightenment, racial, authoritarian /hierarchical impulse was the official American government. With Obama’s victory its rejection is not only personal but for the first time, in 2006 and 2008, it as dominant political force (not as a minor coalition partner within the Republican Party) was rejected.
For the Movement, as we said, politics is existential. And when survival is on the line, pluralistic compromise is for chumps. Democrats still are playing for political advantage within the confines of traditional two party politics. How to give a concrete example? When the other side’s world view is existential, then the stakes are higher than something so trite as the Constitution, etc. We saw this in part through Addington, Cheney et al. with their view on the Unitary Executive. As I wrote a while ago, during a lunch with John Ashcroft after his tenure as AG, he quite blithely said the President is entitled to ignore Congress and its laws — the only thing that matters is the plebiscite on a president because it is national. He then added if the president is re-elected that by definition means the country ratified everything he has done, even secret stuff the nation doesn’t know about.
Existential combat in ideological struggle for survival with a natural affinity for hierarchical organizations and militarized speech and thought patterns. Do you see now why to the Movement any criticism of Bush as Warlord was akin to treason? It’s not only mere warfare for any given news cycle, but deeply rooted in the non-liberal democratic, pre-Enlightenment agenda.
The Krugman and Joan Walsh fantasy that some ‘Republicans’ are going to put a stop to the Movement is a joke. At one time there was a functioning Republican apparat apart from the Movement, capable of independent action. The Movement long ago slipped the leash. Once it was the learner. Now it is the master. This overall operational pattern is precisely why a moderate Republican (not obeying hierarchy) is actually the Movement’s greatest enemy. More than any Democrat. We know. We’ve been in DeLay’s, Armey’s and other offices as famous ‘moderates’ were called ‘Communists’ or worse – much, much worse. Same on the Senate side. As we’ve said here many times before, if Teddy Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi or Daschle/Harry Reid didn’t exist, the Movement would create them. They need them as foils and useful idiots. But a moderate Republican must be destroyed or marginalized where ever possible. (In polite company they are denounced as ‘squishes.’ In private, the language is eliminationist). The latest diss on General Jello (Powell) an after the fact formality.
What this means as a social, cultural and political actor, the Movement is unable to accept loss of power or control through liberal democratic means. The Movement’s eschatology is to higher truths than liberal democratic government: race, security, nationalism, order, security. The Movement’s psychology compels the rage as its Counter-Enlightenment agenda is revealed, in power and then snatched away again. Fear, anger and rage at losing hierarchical control compel instinctive de-legitimization of any political figure or movement that does not share its essential values and cultural (including racial) agenda. Last time it was Whitewater, State Troopers, Vince Foster, Black Helicopters, now it is Birthers, and so on.
Who are ‘Mainstream Republicans’ the Joan Walshes of the world call out to take on the Movement parasite? The Movement is still shooting their own in Stalinist purges. Tom Davis in VA and Arlen are old news. And to what effect? The Movement has already destroyed the RNC as an independent entity and the party nationally.
There continue to be so many dog whistles going on. What they are signaling is worse than the Daily Kos and Huffington Post’s worst nightmares. As good as they and others are understanding (finally) the Movement’s nature, many probably don’t understand the dynamics of how key issues like race unify the Movement up and down the educational and socio-economic ladders. Even when they wear there ‘mainstream conservative or Republican facades.’
In one sense, some of it is obvious to outsiders. In the case of racism, overt comments allow all quickly to depict a discovered outburst as an ‘isolated, unacceptable incident’, etc. The nativism swirling around the immigration debates is an easy example. ‘You look different than me’ or the White Trash psychology of another era trying to pick on someone below them socially — both are an ugly but known practice. The same argument goes on daily today at more upscale levels masked behind NAFTA, globalization and now economic free fall. Beyond the socio-economic critique, alleged health dangers, welfare freeloaders. Pat Buchanan long swam in those waters now plied by Lou Dobbs.
But what Krugman likely knows and won’t say is that some of the most refined, intelligent ‘conservative intellectuals’ at the highest so-called refined levels also trade in racism behind hi tech euphemism. It’s by code word, by invitation, but at its core is the same pseudo genetic babble from Chamberlain (not Neville) and that pasty faced Austrian. Again, most of it recycled from the Old World but now trussed up with slick Silicon Valley tech talk to mask (and sanitize) the Old European roots.
Gender hierarchy issues play out the same way. Here, anti-abortion intensity plays out differently along the socio-economic ladder. At the top, while mouthing the religious words, etc. the real agenda is increasing the breeding stock of White Europeans. Sound ridiculous? You’d be surprised. Catholicism at this level is a dual edged sword because as I said to one of the Movement intellects pushing the needed volkish baby boom and genetic racial stuff on this very point, the Catholic Church is (along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) one of the biggest proponents of immigration leniency (and thus in the Movement’s view, diluting the genetic pool). A necessary evil alas, because Catholics are so important in other ways both as voting block and transmission channel for other Movement priorities.
Oh, the sacrifices one must make on the way to ultimate victory.
All of the above are premised on loyalty to the Movement’s higher existential values rather than ‘mere process’ like democracy (something Buchanan in his prime fumed about all the time). When one understands this dynamic, then the relative silence about Dr. Tiller’s murder, or the right wing extremism that let to Officer Johns heroic courage makes sense. As a famous ‘Republican’ once told me, he’d rather live an American version of Franco than have to deal with multiculturalism. *That’s* how existentialism trumps liberal democracy.
This I share out of personal experience talking with the Movement crowd over the years. Many of the conversations are carefully masked and there is almost a secret handshake and a ‘feeling out’ to see if one is receptive to test, and then small conversational overtures. If the Stiftung has seen and heard this stuff from Capitol Hill to refined salons in the Imperial City so has everyone else. From fatuous Tweety to Howard Fineman — all of them.
Krugman just touched on three overriding conversations critical to the nation: (i) can the rump Movement ever be reconciled to participating in a liberal democratic society?; (ii) what is the price we pay for a enfeebled ‘Republican Party’ host shell paralyzed by the more powerful parasite Movement?; and (iii) how can American liberal democracy be served if the media itself really doesn’t understand what it is reporting — *or more damningly* — won’t?