Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Suppose They Started A War And Nobody Joined Their Side

I've been thinking long and hard about this.  To the point where I didn't sleep well last night.  And I feel the need to break radio silence and talk about politics for just a little while.  The events of the past few days have been playing heavily with my mind.  And amid all the protests and anger and confusion, everybody is missing a really simple, really obvious point that will not only ultimately define the Trump Presidency, but also cause the complete and utter destruction of the Old Guard that runs the Republican Party.  See, they didn't just overplay their hand.  The hand they held wasn't appropriate for the game they were in.

Before I get to what exactly I see, I want to, as usual, start with an analogy.  Anybody, from Republicans to Democrats to whoever, could see what had happened to the world.  And it all started in Arizona.  Several years ago, so-called conservatives managed to pass a "religious freedom" law.  They sold it as protecting people from being prosecuted for objecting to things on the grounds of religious beliefs, such as The Gays.  Many people felt it was to legitimize discrimination.  But it was actually neither of those things.  It was an attempt to make those behind the bill heroes.  I will get to how this was supposed to work anon.

So the bill passes, and these people cheer.  People can now turn gays away from their businesses!  They can ignore them!  They can ostracize them!  And to their shock, lots of businesses didn't go for it.  Instead, businesses started putting up rainbow stickers on their doors to inform people they welcomed everyone, they wouldn't discriminate.  And the people behind the bill went on national interviews and wrote outraged letters about this.  They had made it so people could refuse gays.  Why weren't they doing that?  What was wrong with them?

This is the key point.  The people behind the bill were shocked when, given the chance to do as they wished, they did so.  But what they wished was not the same thing as what the bill supporters wished.

Over the past, say, decade, there has been a siesmic shift in the American public.  California passed a law outlawing gay marriage.  It passed by a comfortable margin.  But it was struck down as unconstitutional.  So they tried to amend the state constitution to do the same.  But support dried up.  It took a concerted effort by places like the Mormon church to get the amendment to squeak by.  In four years, the perspective about gay marriage had shifted so radically, the amendment also didn't pass.  Today, if you tried something like that, you'd be a laughing stock as soon as you introduced the bill.

People like to think that high societal positions set trends.  In reality, the presidency is the result of trends.  We got Jimmy Carter, a humble peanut farmer, in 1976 while the nation was still disgusted about Watergate.  Then people were tired of the milquetoast days and elected Reagan, who was all about star power and fuck the world.  He never explained how increasing spending was supposed to balance the budget, and no one cared.  Bush The First came in, and while he was still a proponent of the Reagan ideals, he was much more subdued about it.  Then the Baby Boomers saw their chance to make their mark, giving us the rock and roll presidency of Bill Clinton.  People got tired of the outrageousness, and installed Bush The Second, a.k.a. Shrub.  Then people were sick of that, and elected Obama.  Each time, it was the values of the time selecting the President.  These behaviors would have existed, whoever was in charge.

I bring this up because, ever since Obama became President, the R's reverted back to the same behavior they exhibited during the Clinton Era.  Clinton was actually the best friend the R's ever had.  He scaled back welfare, something the R's could never do.  He sold oil exploration rights on federal lands to the oil companies for pennies on the dollar, something the R's wanted desperately to do.  He passed the Defense Of Marriage Act, something the R's desperately wanted.  He even kept it a crime to be gay in the miliatry, something the R's insisted was necessary.  Clinton was advancing the R agenda, and his supporters were so focused on cheering on Their Hero that they didn't bother to look at what was really happening.

So now, here we are.  Public attitudes on everything from race to religion to gender equality to gay rights had changed.  But the R's didn't think they REALLY changed.  They figured it was just the authority of the land, Obama, setting the tone, and everyone following it.  And why wouldn't ANYONE think that?  Time and again, careful leaks and strategic lawsuits have shown people will jump in line and behave as one, the question being do you ride with it or outlast it?  And if anyone thinks I'm being too derivative, I would like to point out that no one gives a shit about the Flint water situation anymore.  People donated bottles, sent letters to politicians, and now, they've moved on.  Political outrage is like a sodium fire -- it burns bright, but burns out quick.

The problem is, the R's mistook cultural change for political outrage.  The warnings were there in 2008 when the D's successfully recast John McCain as an extension of Shrub's politics.  There were a LOT of differences, but the R's didn't bother to defend him.  Even Fox News, the R's attack dog, didn't stick up for McCain until about a week before the election, well past the point when most people had made up their minds.  Once again, Obama was the R's best friend.  Doubt me?  Look at the business pages.  Back when John McCain was leading in the polls while Obama and Hillary had their political knife fight, businesses stepped up plans for mergers and acquisitions and squirreling away funds because McCain said he was going to put an end to that.  Then Obama took an insurmountable lead, and all those moves stopped.  They knew Obama would never do that, he would be their friend.  And he was.  Tax holidays.  The bailouts that took out competitors while reinforcing the Big Fish.  And who can forget GM paying off their bailout loan, something they bragged about in an ad campaign at the time, with a second bailout passed when no one was looking?  Expanding surveilance.  Gitmo.  All these things were things the R's wanted.

But what they didn't want was the cultural shift.  Despite a vicious and extensive misinformation campaign about everything from where Obama was born to is Obama a Muslim to just flat out being black (one of my coworkers said that countries around the world were ready to riot if Obama was elected because they didn't approve of a black man as President.  When it didn't happen, she didn't talk to me), Obama got elected anyway.  The R's figured it was just a reflection of who was president, not the other way around.  Thanks to misuse of funds in the party, the R's found themselves stuck with Mitt Romney in 2012.  Mittens had a support network thanks to his business ties and the fundraising organizations in the Mormon church that meant he didn't need party money to fund his campaign.  His competition needed that money, but it wasn't there.  Still, they embraced Mittens despite that pesky Mormon thing because he supported outlawing abortion and his church led the campaign to ban gay marriage in California, but his business ties would mean he would support the Big Business agenda.  In other words, he would change public culture without changing political culture.

And that didn't work.

Now, we have Trump.  Trump is basically trying to undo the cultural shift.  He's giving people an excuse not to be politically correct anymore, bolstered by stories of people telling blacks that they voted for Trump like a badge of honor and carte blanche to do what they want.  And here's the thing -- no one's doing it.  Trump decides to ban anyone from Muslim countries, legal or not.  Within a few hours, a judge blocked most of the order (please note, it was MOST of the order, not ALL of it.  So all you Lefties patting yourselves on the back?  You're not done yet).  From his dismissal of "agenda-driven" science to prosperity doctrine to racism, Trump and the rest of the R's figured everyone secretly wanted to be free to let the darkness in their hearts be unleashed.  That people needed freedom from political correctness.  They never once considered it wasn't political correctness, but social evolution.  People had learned.  People had adjusted.  People no longer saw the need for the pointless hatred.

They had outgrown it.

Watching the news and how the executive orders are going over like a led balloon, how Trump deplaned in Philly and was greeted by an entire crowd flipping him off, how there are near constant protests going on around the country, it's part of the reason I laugh when people say Trump is going to be the next Hitler.  He won't.  He can't.  Hitler was able to control what people believed, discrediting scientists and affirming his mouthpiece media, because people wanted to believe what he said was true, that the solution to their problems was that simple, that all they had to do was not care.  In America, we are seeing the exact opposite.  News sites are still getting their news, Trump is just denying them his spin (which is a failure of PoliSci 101).  People are still talking, thanks to the Internet.  The climate change and sea temperatures are still there and still being tracked.  People know Trump is full of shit, and turning to outlets he can't control.  In order for Trump to succeed, he needs to control what people think.  And no one is buying what he's selling.  Witness the memos proving that the DEA knows marijuana isn't as harmful as they've been saying but they are maintaining the stance in hopes that it will maintain the laws since people can point to them as "experts."  Decriminalization and legalization are still spreading despite their efforts being backed up by a Republican congress.

The R's thought all they had to do was put themselves in a prominent position, and people would unite underneath them, anxious to be free from the cultural trends, pressure, and guilt of the past eight years.  And now they are finding out people didn't do those things because of who was president (in fact, Obama had to bend to them quite a bit, from ACTA and SOPA to gay marriage itself, something he opposed when first running and started saying, "My views are evolving," when it started coming to a head in 2011). People are doing those things because they care about other people.  Like I've said before, the point of democracy is a set of mutually agreed upon laws that enable people to do what they want without interference or interfering.  And people are getting that now.  You're an Atheist?  You should still be protected from discrimination.  You're black?  You should be able to go where you want when you want.  You're gay?  You should be able to love who you want how you want.  They want laws the protect people from infringement, not encourage it.

I had said, back when Mittens lost, that the R's got a rude awakening.  Even their own port-mortem said that the world had changed, and unless they became more open and accepting of other races, more open on gender, and more tolerant of gays, they would be swept out as the relics they are.  Instead, the R's doubled-down.  Trump is upset he lost the popular vote and believes it was fraud, because how can anyone possibly think what he says and does is wrong?  Trump is a narcissist -- he wants to do what he wants, and the fact that he can means he should.  In his Randian Objectivist mind, there is nothing wrong with using power, because that's what it's there for.  He and the R's don't understand people don't think power should be used that way.  People want to change things for the betterment of everyone, not just themselves.  This is why the Tea Party ultimately collapsed in on itself.

The D's are in the middle of a power struggle.  Had Hilary won, those who backed her would have cemented their positions as power brokers in the party.  But now that she lost and the rank and file are outraged over how the D's handed the election to her instead of Sanders, they have nothing to back themselves up with.  Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and people who believed in the D's are determined to take the party back.  The R's are facing a similar problem.  They put so much stock and faith in Trump because they thought all those people who protested him would ultimately rejoin the fold.  It isn't happening.  If anything, their ranks are swelling with each betrayal (the US paying for the wall, the freeze on government payraises, defunding Obamacare).

The Old Guard is on the edge.  The next position is up against the wall.
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded