A while back, Nikto put up a post questioning his chiding of me when I had referred to the current form of the GOP as a cult. I had decided before that to end the use of the word "cult" in reference to right wingers. I have to admit that this has been difficult what with the shoe fitting and all. Opinion pieces by Richard Cohen are flattering but still are just that-opinions.
has released his Manzi-like analysis of the right, it seems that my initial assertions have been fully validated. To say that his piece is brilliant is the understatement of the political season. He sums up everything I have been saying for years on this blog.
It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe.
Gee, I wonder which country he is referring to?:) Lofgren's piece goes beyond what I said because he saw all of this for himself. In other words, he is a primary source. which means we have now gone past folks like Cohen and me and we are now starting to hear first hand experiences.
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).
I'd say "Mission Accomplished" on this front. Congress's approval rating stands at 11 percent. He goes on to state the obvious (the Tea Party is "filled with lunatics") and reveal a sad truth (the GOP used a routine debt ceiling vote to create“an entirely artificial fiscal crisis.”) Of course, the GOP aren't his only targets.
The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks.
I'd go along with most of that. The problem with the health care bill was the corporations and the Democrats horse shit way of packaging it. Lofgren has a great line about this as well.
Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative "Obamacare" won out. Contrast that with the Republicans' Patriot Act. You're a patriot, aren't you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn't the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?
Hmm...I think someone listened on that last one:)
It's important to note that Lofgren recognizes the contrast here.
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.
Lofgren's piece is lengthy so that's certainly enough for now. I'll be taking pieces of it over the next few weeks and throwing it out in smaller posts with commentary because it's just that amazing.
Not only do I feel validated about my previous thoughts regarding conservatives but my inkling to go back to referring to the right as a Cult has mostly vanished. After all, we've got insiders like Mike Lofgren out there now.
I wonder how many more will start popping up as the election gets closer and the prospect of putting one of these "lunatics" in the White House gets closer to reality.