09 November 2008

Bush Conspiracy Theory and Other Political Musings

Obama's election will likely do for the Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's of the world what Bush's election did for the Jon Stewart's and Dave Letterman's of the world.

The Northeast was where education was first made mandatory. The South was the last place. The Republicans' strongest support is in the South; the Democrats' strongest support is in the Northeast. Either we're going to have to stop educating people or the Republicans will need to find a new base.

Obama's biggest gain over Kerry's supporters came from voters 18-29 year old. His margin among these voters was 35%. Given that the policies of the next 4 to 8 years will do so much to shape the world of these 18-29 year olds, this seems like one of those moments of political justice.

Bush declared himself an ideologue - a conservative. He also declared himself practical. He's leaving office after presiding over the biggest increase in government spending since FDR and his final act of note is to nationalize the banks - the most visible instruments of capitalism. Either Bush is actually a Manchurian Candidate in the tradition of Buster Keaton (a slapstick conservative?), doing his best to turn a generation away from the conservative brand in an odd conspiracy of incompetence, or there is an inherent conflict between what is practical and the conservative ideology. Had Bush set out to intentionally damage the Republican Party and the conservative brand, it is doubtful that he could have done a better job. For all the fretting on conservative talk shows about Obama's leftist leanings, it is a wonder that no one has asked whether the destruction of the Republican Party was an inside job.

Ideology is what you use when you are tired of thinking. Everyone talks about how honorable John McCain is, and that may be. Nonetheless, he could only spout nonsense like "cut taxes" in the face of economic and financial turmoil. If "cut taxes" actually worked, the Bush administration would have kept us out of the current situation.

90% of McCain's support came from whites. The good news about the changing demographics of the US is that as the policies of this country are less accommodating to insular voters who assume that what is best is what makes the most sense to married evangelicals whose one trip abroad was to New York, we're more likely to be a true global leader.

Once the Republican Party decides to embrace facts as the starting point for its next version of policies, education may no longer divide supporters of Democrats and Republicans. (Think I'm wrong about the divide? As recently as 2000, the difference between Bush and Gore supporters' education levels was negligible. Think I'm wrong about the way the right has ignored facts? Their take on evolution and climate change has resembled the Catholic's 17th and 18th century approach to heliocentrism. I would argue that the Bush administration's attempt to bury the facts and argument of climate change was perhaps the simplest example of why dubya should be sued for malpractice. It is also perhaps the biggest reason that the Republicans lost so soundly among college-educated, young adults.)

I don't think that the Republicans will seriously consider reinventing themselves yet. For that, they'll need to lose convincingly in at least one or two more elections. We need a decent conservative party. We voters always need a choice between more or less government intervention - more or less spending - more or less taxes. The Republican Party that let itself be hijacked by George W. and Dick Cheney is not the party to offer that alternative.


Anonymous said...

I think this is where Bush's policy of surrounding himself with party functionaries left over from the Nixon administration really starts to hurt Republicans. The only new blood he brought into the party was Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell- and she wants out of politics, and he endorsed a Democrat.

They are so hard up for rising stars that Sarah Palin is being touted in some circles as the savior of the party. Without any particularly charismatic young up-and-comers, it's going to be tough for them to regroup. Their only real hope is for Obama to fall hard.

cce said...

This may be the most singularly amusing yet all together true summary of the new Republican base that I've ever read - "voters who assume that what is best is what makes the most sense to married evangelicals whose one trip abroad was to New York." Thank you for that chuckle and nod of recognition. I also think these voters might consider Disney akin to an overseas adventure.

Gypsy at Heart said...

Ron: On Saturday the WSJ published a superb article by Mark Lilla titled "The Perils of Populist Chic." Go read it. You and Lilla are on the same wavelength. And I agree with C on the married evangelicals phrase. It was a beaut. The whole post was great come to think of it. ;-)


David said...

You're fun to read Ron-O. You're also mostly correct too in everything you've presented here. My only exception taken is on climate change and that's natural since I read more than 18-29 year olds: science, fiction, science-fiction. Most anyway. It's still a "State of Fear."

"Cut Taxes." In the words Dennis Hastert, "whodda thunk?" A Democrat winning on a pledge to cut taxes more than a Republican? That's a switch. One other fact: McCain's white margin was nearly the same as Bush over Kerry and Gore, also Dole over Clinton. Must be a "whites like non-Keynesian economics" thing. GWB was truly the "inside man" when it came to tubing his party but it won't take "one or two more elections" to correct. O and the Democrats will make sure of that. Read his lips.

Big Al said...

I don't know that Dubya ever thought of himself as part of the Republican party. I think he saw himself . . . correction . . . SEES himself, as "The Decider" of his own party: The Bushies. Here McCain thought himself the Maverick. HAH! Dubya is really the Maverick. He truly did whatever he wanted or whatever Rove or Cheney told him to do.

The best tonic for us all would be if Dubya goes home to Texas in January and STAYS THERE, raising cattle and going hunting w/Cheney.

Ron Davison said...

I don't know about that. There is a strong core of this country committed to the anything with the name "conservative."

I guess I could have worded it as, "one trip abroad was to EPCOT." That would work. It is like a trip around the world but without the fear of lost luggage.

I have to look at that. Thank you for what I can already bet is another great tip.

in the aftermath of a credit crisis, I almost hope that Obama does a one-two: cut taxes more than he claimed at first and, once the recession wanes, raising them. Deficits are one thing. Deficits of one trillion are quite another.

Ron Davison said...

hunting with Cheney? Would you like to be the one to tell Dick that George is now a lame DUCK!