Political rhetoric naturally lends itself toward emphatic declarations of historical certainty. Phrases like “Never before in our history!” or “This is the moment when (insert X political event)” become go-to phrases. Writers looking for a bit of Nostradamus gravitas make prognostications almost without consequence (guilty!). However it’s not too much of a stretch to look at the current political climate and wonder if this actually isn’t the most dysfunctional we’ve ever been as a nation.
I haven’t written anything about politics in a few months. Though I could, and did, pawn it off to a new job and Ben Cohen’s Pol Pot-esque managerial style, the truth is I’d simply had enough. To quote Nietzsche, “When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
The intransigence of the Republican Party, combined with the geyser of horseshit from the online brigade of hipster-nihilist Libertarians, to the often feckless Democratic resistance, topped off with a sycophantic mainstream media left me perennially exhausted. I’d been following politics on a daily basis since 2006, and the toxicity from the obscenely repugnant amount of money along with partisan gullibility that surrounds our political process congealed into a fetid pool that nauseated me.
The blame for this environment can be laid directly at the feet of the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement in America.
It has become the cancer of our democracy. Extremists are the conservative movement now. By shrinking the political landscape through congressional redistricting and the embrace of extreme political ideology American Conservatism has become a religion. It is a movement that has devolved into crusader fanaticism unhinged from reality. It seeks to purge phantasmal sickness with snake-oil miracle cures hawked by hucksters.
The fringe has become the center. Just when you think the crazy hole can’t get any deeper, the Right grabs a fistful of dynamite and a hard-hat made from cat pee-stained newspaper and tinfoil.
Speaker Boehner presides over a House more aptly described as an asylum; a prison riot that entered in to an apathetic standoff. In seeking to appease the unappeasable, Speaker Boehner is full steam ahead on a lawsuit against President Obama for using… executive orders? Apparently performing routine administrative functions of the Executive Branch that every other Commander in Chief has done for over a century now amounts to “high crimes and misdemeanors."
In fact when Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was interviewed by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” and was asked about specific plans for impeachment the new House Majority Whip pivoted away from the question, but didn’t rule it out. This isn’t shocking considering Scalise is a rank-and-file Tea Partier who thinks the debt crisis last year was exactly what the country needed.
Boehner and Scalise are representative a political that is slowly strangling American exceptionalism. The Boehner-establishment Republicans used the Scalise fanatics to hang onto what little power they could grasp after the disastrous Bush years. Unfortunately, now the fringe has an over-inflated sense of self-importance and influence. So the establishment has gone from manipulation to placation, and as a result the zealots would rather burn the temple than share space with the heathens next door. The Tea Party Revolution has become a rebellion for the sake of rebelling. There is no goal, no purpose other than obstruction and ideology purity. Reality and consequence be damned!
There will always be a conservative movement. As long as there is progress there will be people who are opposed to it. Social change comes out of a tension between forces seeking change, and those who want to maintain the status quo. While this struggle might be universal, the players who make up that struggle change over time. There’s not too many people advocating war with England over the Oregon Question anymore. “Free Silver!” isn’t an issue since inflation seems to be doing fine on its own. That is why conservatism is always subject to change, to evolve along with progressive forces and in the process redefine itself.
However political issues are fixed to their time and place. They are specific to their own historical and cultural context. While there might be parallels with the struggles our founding fathers faced they’re not the same we’re facing today. Moving from a mercantile economy, that was dependent on the mother country for finished goods to one that’s still, more or less, the financial and military center of the world are two very distinct historical circumstances.
The problem with the conservative movement is that what its advocating now has pretty much been a failure. The unregulated free market has not solved all our problems. In fact it has made a lot of them worse. Being an imperial power, without the will to actually pay for it or taking an honest look at the moral ramifications, is something we’ve struggled with since we jumped into “The Great Game”. It’s the “I can have everything and give nothing for it!” mentality that conservatives project on their political opponents.
Conservatives have convinced themselves of the absolute infallibility of their cause. It’s just, and good because it’s intrinsically so. If you disagree with them, no matter what evidence you present, you’re simply wrong, or worse the enemy. They exist in a world of abstraction, of untested hypothesis. Ideas are never given a chance to be shaped, molded, and tempered in the fires of reality. Real impurities are not burned away, because they exist within the purity of delusion.
The Tea Party will eventually bow to reality. You can only burn so many heretics at the stake before they rise up en masse. In fact the act of trying to force progress to a halt merely signals the final desperate attempt of a failed ideological system. The salt in the wound, besides the actual damage caused by the injury, becomes the delay in progress.
I’m sick of the Republican party. I’m done with the Conservative Movement. Abstractly I can see the need for having another side, a moderating force that is a check against radicalism, but the GOP isn’t that. They’ve become a fanatical cult.
And they need to get the fuck out of the way.