Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss the continued rightward movement of the Republican Party; the potential of third party; and the outcome of a fist fight between Bob and Chez.
Do any of you believe the Republican party will move even slightly back towards the center once any president other than Obama is in office? The crazy rightward pendulum swing has pretty obviously been a response to That Muslim Black Guy, but will pre-2008 republican viewpoints and stances return once the target of their outrage is no longer around?
Ben: Yes, Obama is an easy figure to target, but the dramatic shift rightwards is not solely to do with a black man being in office. There is a cultural and economic background to the GOP's descent into madness, and I don't expect that to reverse any time soon. America is a in a very big mess and much of that stems from the gigantic economic divide, crumbling education system, chronic job and healthcare insecurity and humungous personal debt. This provides fertile ground for extremism giving the hard right a large audience to manipulate. This could result in a third party emerging as there are still many sane Republicans out there, but I'm more inclined to see them gradually convert into Democrats given the historical failure of third party politics in the US.
Chez: I think the truly, truly batshit insanity will subside slightly once the black, multi-cultural progressive is out of office, but I think what the right has been losing its shit over for the past few years will remain as a thorn in its side. Obama is a nightmare for conservative America not simply because of who he is but because of what he represents: the ascendency of "the others" to positions of incredible power across America. This is why you hear tea partying dolts scream about how they're losing their country -- they are, and Obama is the gut-punch telling them as much. Unfortunately for the right, the demographic makeup of the United States is indeed shifting and they're being phased out -- pushed into extinction, which is why they're losing their minds over it and desperately trying to double-down and increase their grasp on the ideal that's slipping through their fingers. So Obama leaving office, whenever that happens, will likely calm them only slightly. There will be more like Obama behind him; it's a certainty. And that scares the crap out of them. This extremism we're seeing is the death throes of the Republican party as it currently exists.
Bob: I don't think it's possible to put the tea party back into its box so the Republican move to the right will absolutely continue. In fact, it'll get worse and more extremist as time goes on, and as the party consolidates its southern regionalism and its white, Christian conservatism. I mean, look at the party's platform this year -- its most conservative platform ever. There's nothing in there that seems even slightly moderate. The days of rationally-thinking conservatism are over. Put another way, the Republicans impeached the white, southern moderate Democratic president in the 1990s. While the racial aspect of the party's attacks on President Obama are obviously unique to this administration, the far-right's radicalism isn't dependent upon the appearance or policies of the particular Democrat in the White House. The GOP tends to go batshit whether the Democratic president is moderate, liberal or somewhere in-between.
Do you see the two-party system disintegrating in the future, or is the tea/firebagger psychosis a flash in the pan?
Bob: It makes me unpopular at gatherings to say this, but I hope the two party system remains intact. Besides, the system isn't designed for a viable third party candidate to win the White House. That said, it's entirely possible that the Republicans split and a new party takes the place of the Republicans, while a tea party group becomes relegated to third-party status. This has happened before and it could happen again. Or, in the worst case scenario, both parties continue to move to the right. This election will actually determine whether that happens. If the president wins, his policies will have a chance to succeed and the pendulum will hold steady or move leftward. But if Romney wins, the Republicans will claim that Romney's victory healed the economy and the window will move to the right, with the Dems scrambling to the right with it.
Ben: Probably not. The left is too disorganized to get anything serious going and the right is too crazy. Centrist Republicans might, but their values are pretty much the same as the Democrats these days, so I don't think they'd bother. Hopefully the economy gets back on track and we'll see the Tea Party become more irrelevant over time. As far as the Firebagger left is concerned, I don't think they are crazy and a lot of them provide some much needed criticism of the Democratic Party and American government policy in general. The tone is not helpful and the relentless obsession with ripping the Left apart is infuriating, so I do hope their militancy is tempered down over the next few years. The notion that a party led by the doctrines of Glenn Greenwald and Jane Hamsher is ridiculous - it would last about 10 seconds and set back any real progress by many years.
Chez: I wouldn't be surprised if a third-party candidate actually becomes a major force at some point over the next couple of decades. I think at some point, as I alluded to in the last answer, if the GOP wants to survive it's going to have to realign its views and leave the extreme right behind. Thing is, there will always be at stragglers who refuse to acknowledge social progress in this country and they'll likely break off into their own splinter group. As for the other side, yeah, they'll keep nominating their own fringe candidates and they'll likely score a few votes here and there. But the best hope for a third-party candidate will be someone who runs as a true independent -- because I think it's safe to say that there's enough discontentment with both major parties that a solid and charismatic independent will have a good change of doing well.
Based on your conflict this week, who would win in a fist fight between Bob and Chez?
Chez: Bob's a lot bigger than me. But I own a gun. Also, I have a long and well-documented history of anger management issues. That said, Bob and I are good. I wish I knew how to quit him.
Bob: We'd likely be too inebriated to fight. And if we tried, it would be that hilarious drunk-guy style of fighting in which we'd flail around until our women dragged us away.
Ben: Bob had a significant size advantage over Chez, so the smart money's on Bob. However, it's the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog that counts, so you never know...
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