Democratic Leadership vs Republican Brinkmanship

Republican FascismDaniel Drezner wrote an interesting article at The Washington Post last Friday, The Politics of Leadership and Anger. He noted that President Obama has moved from “weary resignation and shifted into frustrated outrage.” It’s understandable. So far this year, we have had more mass shootings — “incidents where 4 or more people are killed or injured by gunfire” — than we have had days (294 mass shootings in 297 days). The death toll has to get very high before the national news even notices one. And Obama is angry about it — not least because he’s tried to do things in the past and the Republican Congress has stopped him.

At the same time, Republicans claim to be very unhappy about the fake sting videos involving Planned Parenthood. Are they any more angry than Obama is about these mass shootings? They don’t seem to be. Actually, if you ask me, I think it is mostly fake — demagoguery for their base. But even if we take their anger at face value, it is no worse than the president’s. Yet as Drezner noted, Obama is not using the situation to block all the business of the government until Congress does what he wants: (1) threaten to veto all appropriation bills; (2) refuse to raise the debt ceiling; (3) demand the resignations of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Now Drezner has no answers as to why this is. In fact, he seems to be under the delusion that John Boehner is in the same class of politicians as Obama: “a traditional politician who recognizes the limits of what can be accomplished without political support.” And that’s just nonsense. Was Boehner not one of Newt Gingrich’s hatchet men? Wasn’t he in favor of the government shutdowns in 1995 and 1995-96? Why, yes he was! And didn’t he vote to impeach President Clinton? Yes! In fact, only two of four charges passed against Clinton, but Boehner voted for all four.

I think it is critically important to remember this: even the “reasonable” Republicans are crazy. Remember in 2013, Boehner didn’t want to pick a fight with Obama over the continuing resolution. His stated reason was that the Republicans didn’t have as much leverage. He wanted to pick the fight over the debt ceiling — a far more dangerous act of brinkmanship. And so this isn’t — as Drezner claims — about the Tea Party. If anything separates the establishment from the Tea Party it is practical experience. They are all just as crazy; it is just that the establishment types wield the crazy more effectively.

So the problem is not that some in the Republican Party have poisoned it. It is that the Republican Party is itself rancid. And it has been since at least 1981 when Ronald Reagan said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” The conservative movement — and America in a general sense — has managed to forget the first four words at the beginning of that sentence, and decided that the government is always bad. So why not shut it down? From the standpoint of the conservative, as long as the government continues to do the things they want (like send Social Security checks), then it’s fine.

At this point, I don’t think there is any way forward with the Republican Party. It will not reform from the inside — at least as long as it has any amount of political power. It must be destroyed. This is not a Cold War situation where we can move forward together while disagreeing. That was the way it was 40 or 50 years ago. We are now in a World War II situation. The Republicans are determined to destroy a century of American progress. They must be stopped. They must be destroyed.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

14 thoughts on “Democratic Leadership vs Republican Brinkmanship

  1. The problem with destroying the Republican Party is that it does nothing to the fact that people are still going to think the way that they do. The only difference will be for a short period of time they will not be in charge of a major political party.

    Drezner knows why the Republican Party is crap but he has the same problem the rest of the media faces: if they are completely honest, they both lose access to the people they need to talk to to get their stories turned in and have to admit they were wrong. Neither of those two things are going to happen any time soon. So you get nibbles on the edges but no one is going to come right out and say “you sir, sir, sir and ma’am are insane.”

    • My theory is that if the Republican Party went away, the Democratic Party would break into the old ~1972 Republican Party and the democratic wing of the Democratic Party. Wishful thinking probably.

      You are highlighting why actual scientists like Paul Krugman get turned into “liberal extremists” on the right. 95% of what he writes is simply factual. But it is considered partisan to actually say, “This is a fact; it isn’t open to debate.” Saying “Jeb Bush’s budget plan would create a huge deficit” would make one ineligible to be considered an “objective journalist.”

      • How we got to the point where saying facts are partisan is something that I cannot figure out despite having studied the issue extensively. Just why are people so scared of the Republicans hissy fits? I know I do not like to do confrontation but I still do it.

        • I think this explains it all: Kissinger on Revolutionary Power. The regular system of journalism can’t deal with a group that refuses to stick to norms. So they find ways to fit the aberrant behavior into the existing narrative. This is exactly what the press did with the Nazis. And it is what has allowed the Republican Party to go absolutely nuts while still appealing to roughly half the voters of this nation.

      • Right! Krugman and Reich are liberal extremists the way I’m ten feet tall. A centrist might be Robert Putnam, whose work has been badly used by bonafide conservative extremists to make their points. (A favorite from Putnam’s last book was that theists donate more to charity. Actually, if you take church tithes out of the equation, theists donate less to charity. Understandably so, as they already gave at the office, so to speak.)

        The Repub disregard of fact, and the media’s willingness to play along, is deeply scary — but I don’t think it’s new. These trends have been part of US politics for a long time. We’ve always been data-deficient in our politics, I believe.

        • I’ve read that Christians still give more. I’d like to see a thorough accounting — especially taking into account demographics (young people give less and are less religious). I suspect it is all pretty much a wash.

          I recall reading a Jewish writer during Hitler’s rise to power. He was praising Hitler and saying basically, “And he doesn’t mean that stuff about the Jews…” The urge is strong to avoid seeing the truth.

        • That last part I would say no-it used to be that we had 80% participation because there was nothing better to do and people do like distractions. Only with the invention of all the shiny stuff we have these days have we really lost our attention to what was going on in politics.

          Right now I have about seven tabs open involving research on things either I mentioned or you or Frank did, was watching something on Youtube on my TV, doing my homework and petting my dog. That is an enormous amount of attention splitting and I know y’all are just as bad. So unless you happen to be intellectual (not a common thing in this here United States), you will be distracted by stuff totally unrelated to politics, policy or boring stuff like that. When you have nothing else to keep you occupied, you use whatever is around and that was around.

  2. I think Krugman mentioned that once or twice back when I was reading him regularly. The thing I really do not get is why-why do they do this. I know they want to have power but they also seem to be totally indifferent to the damage they have to know they cause. Where did this callous behavior come from?

    • This is a thing I’m really fascinated by. Rick Perlstein does a great job with the history of it. The demigods on the subject are Naomi Klein and Thomas Frank, IMO. “What’s The Matter With Kansas” and “The Shock Doctrine” are books for the ages, although you’ve probably already read them.

    • I don’t know, but I think that John Dean is right in Conservatives without Conscience: they are authoritarians. And yes, Krugman does mention this. In fact, it is in the introduction to his book The Great Unraveling — which is doubtless where I learned of it, not being one to read the doctoral dissertations of Nobel Prize winning war criminals.

      • I probably have a John Dean book lying around here somewhere, in Feb. we have a massive charity booksale by the VNSA and I usually pick up dozens of political, history and law books at that time. And if it strikes my fancy, it is $2 so why not? However I was strangely reluctant to read it, most likely due to it going to be going over the same information I already knew about.

          • You could disagree with them on policy and they would not try to stab you for disagreeing. These days, I am sure that it is only a matter of time.

            • There’s a serious difference between union-era right-wingers and those before/after. In the union era, they acknowledged how developments they didn’t like were nasty but unavoidable. Before/after, it’s straight-up “anyone who opposes our agenda hates America.” Also is a security threat to America.

              Unions had vast flaws, but at least they kept these lunatics out of control.

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