Why Political Alternatives in 2012 Don’t Exist

We’ve been talking to alienated political professionals lately. They’re either no longer welcome by their hyper-meme-soaked bases or alienated by them. Either way, they’re largely watching the football game from the stands. Their more practical (cynical?) colleagues join a team and bury their cognitive dissonance.

Politicians Must Stop Hiding Behind Process And Practice Politics

Why do marginalized political figures in the stands choose to sit there? The obvious excuse? Contemporary politics makes rational, empirical choice impossible. It’s true. But outcome determinative. A politician’s task is to change circumstances as much as adapt to them.

Goldwater, Republican, Ike

Alienated ‘moderate’ political figures and operatives, like Obama, elect to abandon actual politics. Thus no organized political activity to reclaim the Republican Party from the Movement. (Obama as incumbent has his party in a bind). Instead, the alienated political figures embrace the pose of process reform. Easier to appear on Morning Joe and blame congressional failure on needed rule changes or deficit reduction. Reasonable people like Mika after all prefer process. And process leads to the Avalon of compromise.

It’s sophistry, of course. And a convenient posture to be a victim. It’s also the perfect political analog for the intellectually bankrupt TED environment which peddles meaningless sloganeering and Newt-isms as knowledge. Unconnected factoids strung together to sound ‘wise’ in 140 characters.

What would actual politics look like? Let’s stipulate the Movement various strands’ are virulent, vindictive and irrational. Taking them on a daunting personal and professional challenge. Yet it’s not excuse. It’s been done successfully before. And we don’t mean post-1964.

American History Shows How Intellectual Movements Gain Influence

Before the Scopes trial, before The Organization Man, there was the Brandeis Brief. That Brief, which introduced science and empiricism into American law, itself rode the crest of a societal immersion in the scientific method, and Taylorism in manufacturing from the 1880s and 1890s. The sociology for how empirical thought gained widespread embrace is rich and detailed.

The Movement’s multiple successes infiltrating the Republican Party, mainstreaming itself and eventually devouring its institutional host yet another instructive model. Whether empiricism’s rise post-Civil War or the Movement today, neither advanced their cause by claiming process as the answer. Process served the political truth. To argue otherwise is to be another Wilkerson claiming if only the NSC had better paper flow he and General Jello could have beaten Cheney.

Could the current band of sidelined ‘moderate’ politicians and operatives carry a renewed empirical torch through a meme-drenched world? As the current process pose suggests, their political skills may be out of phase. Second, oligarchy collectively may prefer to withhold money, gaming further unravelling until a future, rump stabilization. Recent unsuccessful primary candidates do point to their failures as proof no one wants the message.

Yet it’s a duty to at least try. American history shows political movements culminate after decades of investment. It’s more than 1 or 2 election cycles. Or individual personalities.

To remain on the Acela to MSNBC, sigh, and lament the lack of procedural reform is cowardice.

Conversations Frozen In Time: Movement Campaigns In Disarray

Together over the years we have discussed among ourselves the fundamental nature of political movements beginning on the Continent and their often unrecognized manifestations here. While this version of the Bunker captures some of it, STSOZ 1.0 probably has the more complete analysis. You can find it at the links above and search.

All of which is to say that we together have understood that political movements require amorphous natures and to survive must ignore formal organization (even when proffered for show). So it’s no surprise to see so many Rightist Movement campaigns stumble and flail – at least according to the considered professional judgments of political pundits unschooled in political philosophy and deploying the smirk certitude of assumed American participatory pluralism. Or the “Republican” professional campaign mercenaries.

We’ve had conversations with long time Movement operatives close to two such campaigns (no, we’re not including Newt). Long story short, you’ve probably already grokked the basics – new media ensures there are no confidences anymore, just delayed Tweets. In one case, a formerly high flying candidate rejected objectively sound advice and we’re told embraced a modern day Rasputin for final advice. Some of the instances shared with us sound unusually idiosyncratic. The candidate, however, remains in the game, continuing to send Movement dog whistles. It’s frankly hard to imagine when this candidate announced that a movement campaign in this environment would somehow subject itself to the discipline and boring work such as planning and budgeting. So, in that sense, everyone involved made their own beds.

A separate conversation involved a still leading campaign (currently struggling with a brutal news cycle). The ask was for contributions on themes heretofore ignored by the campaign. As typical in a Movement entity, despite the existence of a formal Vice President for X, Vice President for Y was seeking advisors and information about X to give to the candidate. It’s true that some duplication and rivalry is inevitable when a stunt campaign inexplicably finds itself forced to become (or at least pretend) the real thing. But the underlying process of ‘working towards the leader’ for favor and face time ignoring formal organizational tables is inherently a trait of ideological movement entities. So we weren’t surprised or put off. It’s just how these things roll.

There does seem to be a growing resignation that Romney will be the nominee among the professional Movement operatives. Much talk about how damaged Rubio is by implosion of his immigration mythos. Which gives the tattered remnants of the professional “Republican” class some relief. What they see in all of the above is a glimpse that the radical tide of 2001-2011 finally might be spent, and having reached its crest, begin to recede. Which poses the interesting question of who is the most out of touch?

Uncle Pat Sings The Same Old Song

The Drudge Report is hyping Uncle Pat’s latest Spenglerian opus, “End Of An Era: When MTV Began To Play Michael Jackson,” or some such. According to the Drudge summary, it looks like Pat went back to his studio with his producer with one goal: to recapture the punch and power from his halcyon days. Some chapters, like Crisis of the Catholic Church, are particularly riff heavy, recalling the pyrotechnics of his epic Houston 1992 stage show. Perhaps it’s akin to his last will and testament to posterity?

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The ‘Republican’ Inner Voice: Let Them Die

The hypothetical? If a young healthy person elects not to get health insurance but encounters sudden catastrophic medical emergency, should society help?

In fairness, Paul hearing the chants of ‘yeah, let him die’ answered ‘No’, suggesting the hypothetically illl person a Randian martyr and offering local charities. That moment an accurate snapshot about the health of our social contract. How lucky are we to have such a resolute champion to articulate the America we remember.

Republican Party, Tea Party, Republican Tea Party Debate, Let Him Die, Right WIng, CNN Debate

The Paths Ahead (Tweak On 8/4/11)

So are we there yet? Some thoughts as they occur, probably to be consolidated in an omnibus post.

Turn Your Head And Cough, Please

We begin where we are. Political science and philosophy lead to the same diagnosis: today’s America is a hybrid demotic-oligarchy. The hybrid qualifier? Existing institutions are deployed as both hammer and victim. Oligarchy, while increasingly bold, prefers to act through intermediaries. Economic difficulties may highlight oligarchical self-serving action. They still remain, good times or bad. But you already knew that.

All should know by 2011 oligarchy and the Movement are momentarily bed fellows. Koch money et al. funds the Movement. To agitate on tax cuts or issue X. The Movement remains distinct. Across history oligarchies typically are overthrown by authoritarianism. See, e.g. Venice, Genoa, Rome (and even Athens, which was never a republic but a democracy) Or your own example.

Oligarchical rule is never sustainable. It’s primarily extractive and self-interested nature leads to dissipation or opposition, usually chaotic or disorganized because political institutions have atrophied. Thus enters the Man on the White Horse to restore order. (Oligarchical money of course also famously funds Democrats).

Howard Fineman’s ‘we are watching slow rolling secession (from democratic pluralism)’ sums it up. He’s late to the realization; still a nice turn of phrase. We should be clear what this means. When societies reach this devolutionary point, there usually is no ‘re-set’. Things don’t just go ‘back to the way they were’ (see post on Audacity’s failure below).

Politics and society have changed. A by-product of Obama’s refusal to implement (and defend) roll-back of the 2001-2008 corrosion. We should adapt accordingly. For the post-Obama world.

Cowboys And Democrats

Do Democrats want to challenge the game? Today’s circumstances demand a thorough intellectual re-boot. Secession from pluralism requires a new ideological response. Even if Dems must play the money game without reform. The hardest part? Just beginning it all. Democrats have paralyzed themselves with tropes like seeing a snapshot poll and muttering “America is center right anyway”. Forgetting *that’s* the result only after decades of almost totally unopposed Movement AgitProp. How far do Democrats really want to move the cheese?

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Begin The Long Retreat (Revised)

History will record the brief American intoxication with the Obama Audacity Campaign a reckless gamble. Strategically, the Campaign had two components necessary for success. The first was to overwhelm and penetrate Republican/Movement ranks with the power of personality to seize control of American government in 2008. The second, assuming opponents’ psychological surrender, was to govern by verbosity, intention and situational accommodation via the existence of a wholly undefined ‘new politics’.

That Campaign failed. Its second phase rout fueled the seemingly impossible: Obama re-energized, strengthened and then mainstreamed the most radical Movement elements. From being mere marginalized ghosts gnawing on themselves in the shadows 3 years ago Obama planted their radicalism firmly in the center-most heart of American politics. It is a catastrophe of almost unimaginable proportions.

When Winning Is Not What It Seems

The Audacity Campaign’s core failure is that its second phase, successful control of government and validation through re-election, was non-sensical from the outset. The entire venture’s success would be possible only if its opponents agreed to cooperate, stand down and join the so-called ‘new politics’. Audacity meant Obama never controlled his victory conditions, nor his future (and the Nation’s).

The importance of this ‘new politics’ to the Audacity Campaign is almost always overlooked by political pundits. In phase two Obama did not intend to govern as a traditional political figure. But neither he (nor his advisors who asked for more crises) thought to ask why would political opponents so recently defeated cooperate in their further eclipse? Naturally no contingency plans laid out.

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Democrats Crushed Again By Movement Radicalism, This Time In Wisconsin

Democrats again fail to realize their opponent’s anti-democratic radicalism. Wisconsin Democrats are stunned. Corporatist interests using their GOP facade unilaterally disembowel 50 years of bi-partisan consensus supporting public sector collective bargaining.

The appropriate lessons will be drawn by onlookers around the country. Radicalism triumphs over beleaguered status quo if the will to escalate is obeyed. Destabilization can be launched using the flimsiest of pretexts. Minority interests can openly hijack governments for their zero sum enrichment ignoring public sentiment. Democrats demonstrate their inability to defend the existing social fabric.

How far we’ve come since November 2008. And how far we’ve yet to go.

Gabrielle Giffords And Rightist Murderous Rage

Prayers for her and all those killed and wounded. We’ve been lucky. It’s taken this long for one (as of this writing) from the fringe to act out. They’ve been given the dog whistle green light since at least February 2009.

It’s wrong for most commentators to blame the fringe alone, or talk radio, a few cable talking heads or Palin’s unfortunate web graphics. The urge to violence and its accompanying eliminationist impulses are a major fuel rod of the Movement’s nuclear reactor. Grover, for example, asked at this year’s televised RNC Chair candidate debates to each candidate, ‘Do you own guns?’ and they detailed how yes and how many. Galvanizing violent activity is the sub rosa Movement political life blood — from Newt’s calls for ‘destroying’ , ‘revolution’ and abolishing in 1994-1995 through 2009-2010’s behind the expulsion of all sources of cognitive dissonance into an illegitimate Other as way station to remorseless destruction. (Forget Carlson’s frat boy stupidity re Vick, that’s just dumb privileged white idiocy).

Obama’s flinching, weakness, caving and refusal to engage the Movement imposes another cost. His speech today fine for the moment. But he must create a national tone that imposes and *exacts* real political cost for Movement extremism. You’d think of all people the Boy King would see the need. They brought assault rifles to his own events. We doubt in the end he has the balls for setting tonal barriers necessary to exact a cost for extremism peddling, let alone understanding the fundamental need. Moments of silence are a necessary but woefully insignificant step.

An example of what not to do? More mewling from Eugene Robinson that the Movement and Republican leaders ‘must renounce and marginalize’ those calling for violence as the right thing to do. Or what? Worse than his usual banal cliches.

Establishment Fear Of The Tea Party – Hungry Like The Wolf

Had a temperature-check conversation with a Movement leader. He’s close to someone frequently mentioned as a 2012 presidential candidate.

We Non-Rightists are dismayed at Obama Premature Flinch Syndrome metastasize. He and colleagues in the professional Movement elite’s are terrified. Of their inability to control the forces they conjured. The Usual Suspect blogs and cable casts don’t get that.

We all see the obvious signs: (a) tea partiers denouncing corrupt Republicans freely in trad media; and (b) Values Voter tent pole personalities pulling out of CPAC or threatening to do so. What makes things different is the chaos is not limited to ‘Republican establishment’ figures. Professional Movement leaders now perceive themselves at risk, holding a wolf by the ears. Damned holding on, damned letting go. These Movement professionals ironically are accepting the Stiftung’s long-standing diagnosis of the Movement parasite outgrowing the Republican depleted host. Put another way, the Movement refused to be on the leash of the Ken Duberstein or James Bakers. Now, to their dismay they realize their leash is unwelcome, too.

We smiled as Movement professionals dismissed the recent RNC Chairman candidates’ forum as an irrelevancy – as the Stiftung long counseled. How funny and rich to hear Movement professionals express alarm at Citizens United — why, these groups are potentially ‘uncontrollable.’ Comical perhaps. The fear of the unpredictable future unknown real.

Internal, unreported political cannibalism beyond the public reports is always captivating. Plus, it’s odd to see the general sense that Obama ‘won’ the Lame Duck, gaining stature and ‘Big Mo’ in sober conversation among professional colleagues. This was not posturing for the camera.

True, non-RIghtists have reason to look askance at Obama’s 2.0 makeover. More subservience to the financial plutocrats? Check. More pull back on regulation? Check? Premature caving to Movement factions seeking to destroy the American social safety net? Check. And so on. Just remember, though, this time he is ‘just itching to fight.’ Ask him. One nonetheless would be surprised at how many thoughtful Movement professionals as of today predict an Obama victory in 2012 – and no easy way to let go the wolf of their own making.

Democratic Collapse: 2010 Year In Review – The Short Version

Napoleon Obama Administration: Write a letter to the DNC. Right now and tell them that, what time do you think it is? March 2010? Good. Write and tell them after the year long health care effort, we broke the Movement. Tell them that we won the war 2010 mid terms! We won the war the 2010 mid terms!

Wellington Mitch McConnell: It appears we’re losing the war. Give me more fillibusters, or give me Marshal Blucher Tea Party turnout!

Napoleon Obama Administration: McConnell is beaten. He’s bled to death. Now, now the Old Guard unleash Brand Obama and on to the Dream Act!

Wellington McConnell: I am abandoning my scruples. I want what is left of us here! Every Republican says NO! If the Fox Nation and Tea Party don’t turn out now, they’ll break every bone in my body.

Uxbridge Sam Brownback: Good policy, Wellington, McConnell.

Wellington McConnell: If there is anything in this world about which I positively know nothing, it is responsible governance.

Non-Rightists: Yo Obama Administration, Blucher the Movement is in the woods. Look out! The Movement is in the woods!

Napoleon Obama Administration: I made one mistake in my life. I should have watered down the agenda even more!

Blucher: De Mint Raise high the black flag my children, no pity, no prisoners. I will shoot any man I see with pity in him. On, on my children!

Wellington McConnell: Now Ailes, now is your time !!

Democratic base and Independents: It’s the Movement, run!

Napoleon Obama Administration: Why do you all stand there like frightened children? You call yourself hope and change? The Movement is too late. Too late. The Old Politics are beaten, don’t you understand? Where is your faith? The Old Politics are beaten! I’ve been in this position before with Hillary during the primaries. I lost New Hampshire to Clinton and won the battle back again in South Carolina!

Marshal Ney David Axelrod: Stand with me !!! Are you the non-professional Left? Stand with me! Are you believers in Brand Obama? Don’t you know me? I am David Axelrod. Axelrod, ineffective spokesperson for the Obama inner circle !!

DNC Operatives: The Movement intensity is here !!! The Obama Brand has broken!

Uxbridge Sam Brownback: My God, I’ve given up my Senate seat and am now governor of Kansas.

Wellington McConnell: My God, Sir, so you have.

Beltway Conventional Wisdom Obama, you must water down your policies more! You have to triangulate. You must agree with McConnell. You must move to the Right!


Sergei Bondarchuk’s stunning Waterloo. Spectacle made real before the brittle cheats of CGI. When Bondarchuk filmed, he commanded the 7th largest army in the world at the time. Plus Orson Welles as a sardonic Louis XVIII. Highly recommended — regardless of your views on 2010.