Monday, November 5, 2012

What This Election Is Really About

This is a very close election, with the final national polls showing it basically tied while the swing state polls give a slight edge to President Obama. But, given all the uncertainties, this election could go either way.  I am resigned to that fact personally and while I'm expecting an Obama victory, I also wouldn't be surprised at all to see a President Romney on Wednesday. So I take nothing for granted here.

Charles and David Koch
For the last two year, the Republicans were not looking for someone they really liked, because that was not to be had.  (For some reason, the Republicans haven't really been happy with their nominees since the days of Ronald Reagan some three decades ago.  They think they would have been happy with Gov.Chris Christie, but I think that's wishful thinking.)  Rather they have been looking for someone--anyone--who could manage to drive Barack Obama from office after just one term.

They may or may not have found that person in Mitt Romney.  We'll know after tomorrow.

Romney has turned out to be the perfect stealth candidate.  He has flown under the political radar, his true ideology and political convictions undetected and unknown.  He has given very few interviews to the press. He has kept his personal finances hidden in an almost unprecedented way. He has switched positions numerous times, sometimes almost daily. And he has somehow gotten away with it.  We don't know what he believes about politics and policy.  Who knows, maybe he doesn't even know;  perhaps all he knows is that he desperately wants to be President!

Starting out as the moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts, where he put in place the first universal health care plan in the country, Romney morphed into the 'severely conservative' candidate who stood to the Right of such conservatives as Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, on issues such as immigration.  Romney has said whatever needed to said and gladly shook the hands that needed to be shook (Donald Trump, Liberty University, etc.) in order to win the nomination of the increasingly fundamentalist, laissez-faire (aka Randian) Republican Party. 

His final act in order to secure his conservative base was to select Paul Ryan as his VP choice, the young, wonkish but likeable paladin of Congressional conservatives.

Then, as predicted by his aides back in the summer, Romney made his 'etch-a-sketch' move, entered the political chrysalis  and emerged at the Republican convention as a beautiful, transformed 'moderate' Republican.  No more hard-core conservative ideology, now we saw the softer, warmer, compassionate Mitt--family man, devoted Mormon, competent businessman, philantropist extraordinare.  The Republicans on display were of the same stripe--Condoleeza Rice, Chris Christie, Ann Romney.  Absent in body, mind, and soul were the two most recent Republican Presidents:  George W. Bush and Dick Cheney!

This should have been enough to warn the Obama team that Romney was going to show his moderate face during the debates, but for some reason, the President was caught offguard, at least during the first debate, and was unable to counter the stream of middle-of-the-road rhetoric and argumentation coming from Romney's mouth.  Obama took his famous 'long nap' during the first debate, and consequently let Romney back into the race, and so we are where we are, with the race close to tied on the day before the election.

But this election has very little to do with Mitt Romney.  Really.  I know that must sound rather strange, but I think it can be shown to be true.  Romney (and in a way, Obama as well) represents an approach to governance and political control that has certain goals and purposes well in mind, that are broader and bigger than any individual person or President.  That is what I would like to sketch out below, as I see it, because it's important for us who are citizens--and actually determine who controls our political process--to know the lay of the land.

If the Right could have won with a cipher such as Herman Cain, they would gladly have taken him.  Indeed, it's a little known fact that Cain was the creature of the Koch Brothers, who had financed his rise to notoriety (which has now degenerated into guest appearances on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, where he comes across as the buffoon that he always was).  Someone like Cain would have been the preferable and more malleable candidate for the Republican Powers That Be, but he had a few, ahem, 'skeletons' in his closet, so he faded fast in the end.  And Mitt Romney had the staying power to endure repeated electoral rejection and keep on getting back on his feet to fight again.  You sincerely have to admire this about the man.

But really, this election is not about Mitt Romney who for the longest time in the Republican primaries couldn't rise above 30% of even the Republican Party.  Rather this election has to do first of all with the Rightwing Noise Machine (RNM), which has been at work for the entirety of Obama's presidency (and for years before that, truth be told). 

FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Andrew Breitbart, Anne Coulter, Michele Bachmann, the Birthers, the Koch brothers, etc. have all been busy little bees for over four years now seeking to mold and shape the mindset of a certain subset of the American population--probably something like 20% (more if they could get it).  And to what end?  To believe that their new President was not only NOT a legally legitimate President, but that he was not even an American or a Christian.  Furthermore, as the Right's new documentary film maker Dinesh D'Souza tried to show in the last few months, their President was actually trying to 'destroy' turning it into a socialist paradise akin to the Soviet Union.

Over the last few years, I've seen intelligent friends of mine come to hate Barack Obama, not because of what he was actually doing, but because of the delusional rantings and ravings of the above-mentioned RNM.  It is this visceral, irrational revulsion which has formed the base of Mitt Romney's support.  They came around to supporting Mitt Romney, not because of who Romney is, but because they loathe, and have nothing but contempt for, Barack Obama.

Of course, not everyone in the Republican Party sees things this fact, I feel certain that the folks in influential positions--the Karl Roves, the Koch Brothers, Rupert Murdock/Roger Ailes, (dare I say Grover Norquist?)--see things quite differently, and know that Barack Obama is basically a pragmatic neo-liberal in the mold of Bill Clinton.  They know that he's not a radical at all, but rather a cautious, careful reformer of national affairs, who has done a fairly decent job of bringing the nation out of its economic crisis and back into moderate growth and recovery.  They know this because they are NOT delusional, paranoid with fear, or ignorant.  But they also know that Barack Obama stands in the way of what they want to accomplish.

So here is the historical point.  Conservatives have, for nearly a century now, had as their primary ideological goal one basic thing.  And it is this:  the rollback of the last century of American political and socioeconomic reform, embodied in the New Nationalism (Theodore Roosevelt), the New Freedom (Woodrow Wilson), the New Deal (Franklin Roosevelt), the Fair Deal (Harry Truman), the Great Society (JFK and LBJ), and oddly enough, even a few reforms instituted by the last great Republican moderate, Richard Nixon, especially a strong federal agency for environmental regulation, the EPA. 

Add to all of this, the progressive initiatives of Obamacare, the Clean Energy initiatives, and the Dodd Frank Banking regulations of the Obama administration, and you have a century of socioeconomic reform that the conservatives (who now completely control the Republican Party) want to destroy and replace.  When one speaks of American Liberalism, this is what it is in substance and structure.  And this is what Conservatism wants to abolish and eliminate, to the maximum extent possible.  This election is about two general political worldviews--Progressivism and Conservatism--locked in perpetual struggle for dominance.

So there you have it.  This is the agenda of the new conservative Republican Party (since the advent of the Reagan administration):  to control the levers of national political power so as to be able to uproot and eliminate the socio-political, liberal fruits of the 20th Century in America, as described in the previous paragraph.  To return if at all possible, as it were, to the glorious days of the late 19th century, when the titans of industry and finance ruled the roost, and when the little people (workers, farmers, women, blacks, Latinos, and other non-white minorities) were kept in their place.  When there was very few in the middle, between the mighty and little.  The perfect utopia of Ayn Rand, the most recent patron saint of this movement (and the preferred political philosopher of Paul Ryan).

Hard to believe, isn't it, but how else can you read their true agenda?  There is a truly reactionary vision here that is normally kept quite hidden by the Right, but that is occasionally glimpsed.  (They prefer to place their emphasis on demonizing the enemy, not revealing their own intentions.)  One place you could see it quite clearly, actually, was in the teaching of Glenn Beck, with his theories of the evils of early 20th Century Progressivism, à la Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson (and all that followed in the subsequent decades).  To Beck, this was America's Original Sin, which had to be rejected and replaced, if America was to be righteous again, as it was at its founding and for the first century of its existence.  Beck was becoming a primary evangelist of the conservative movement, because of his mesmerizing ability to preach the Truth.  (If I was watching him occasionally, just for the sheer fun of it, he must have had a huge audience on the Right, who believed his 'sermons'.)

But Glenn Beck must have gone too far, because he was uncermoniously taken off the air by Roger Ailes at FOX News.  You see, Ailes wants the true purposes of FOX kept sub rosa, please.  He will NOT pay you to divulge the conservative secrets.  It wasn't that Beck went looney-tunes on them, it's just that he became too EXPLICIT about it all, and that is forbidden.  What Beck was teaching is actually what the conservative movement believes in theory and about our American history.  All you had to do was know what Beck was saying and compare it what the candidates were saying in the Republican debates, and you basically had a MATCH!  Poor Glenn Beck....crucified for simply telling the truth.

This new Republican Party--controlled by the Rightwing Rich, traditional Big Business, the Christian fundamentalists and pro-life movement, the Fossil Fuel Industry,  the Military-Industrial Complex (so prophetically described by President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address), and Big Finance/Wall Street--is now gunning for Barack Obama, the leader of American Liberalism.  In their view, his election four years ago was a mistake, due to a chink in the conservative armor called the Great Recession, something they clearly didn't expect to happen.  And his election must be reversed, before too much damage is done.

The titular figurehead at the moment of this reactionary Conservatism is Mitt Romney, but he is more the appropriate pot, the useful vessal, than the potter.  Behind him stands all the people and forces he has so cravenly kowtowed to in order to fulfill his vast and longstanding ambition to be the US President.  And if he wins, they will have their say.  And if, for some reason, he doesn't do their will (perhaps because he is in his heart of hearts a real moderate), there will be hell to pay. 

But I think he will listen to his bosses, and then enjoy his success, his family, and his church.  He will have it made in the shade--until the next disaster hits (Iran?). 

Jobs?  Mitt Romney doesn't really care about jobs for you and me....never has and never will.  It's not in his DNA.  Profit--for him and his kind--is what has been his passion.

So our choice tomorrow seems to be: move ahead into the 21st Century with a cautiously progressive President, or continue our fall back--back, back, back--into a new Gilded Age under the increasingly reactionary Republicans.  Perhaps you think I exaggerate. Indeed, I am overly generalizing here, to be sure, but only because it's important to 'see the forest for the trees'. Otherwise we wander aimlessly about, knowing neither where to go or what to do.

One perhaps would like some other choice than this, but there really isn't.  People long to be 'independent', but no such place exists anymore.  You simply have to take sides in this political struggle.  Not to decide, out of fear or ignorance or indifference, is to decide.  So pick your party, your political worldview, and vote.

A lot more hinges on our decision tomorrow than the skin color--or retirement accounts--of two impressive Presidential candidates.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with all your points but how do we inform those members of our electorate who have drunk the GOP Koolade that voting for the RWNJs (right wing nut jobs) is not in their best interest? The only thing the 99 percent have going for them right now is numbers...we have more votes than they do!!!