Monday, April 27, 2009

Go Lemmings Go!

I saw the bumper sticker in the title on a bulletin board in a classroom at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas, where the Inge Festival is held. I think that pretty much sums up the attitude of the grassroots Republicans as depicted in this post at Politico. They are not ready to compromise on such issues as marriage equality, reproductive choice, or other hot buttons that get the talk-show phone lines going and the wingnuts like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on TV.

Rank-and-file Republicans remain, by all indications, staunchly conservative, and they appear to have no desire to moderate their views. GOP activists and operatives say they hear intense anger at the White House and at the party’s own leaders on familiar issues – taxes, homosexuality, and immigration. Within the party, conservative groups have grown stronger absent the emergence of any organized moderate faction.

There is little appetite for compromise on what many see as core issues, and the road to the presidential nomination lies – as always – through a series of states where the conservative base holds sway, and where the anger appears to be, if anything, particularly intense.

It’s not just the issues, either. As the Tea Parties demonstrated very clearly, the right-wing animosity towards President Obama is behind it all, and their logic is following a similar pattern to one that they’ve used before.

Rick Wilson, a consultant to the [National Republican Trust PAC], explained the outlook of “real Republicans” when it comes to Obama.

“They think this guy has grabbed the reins of power and that he is racing as fast as he can first off to reshape the economy and the culture in his image – they are mortified at that and they are terrified of it.”

That’s how they viewed Bill Clinton in 1992; he and his Arkansas hillbillies came into the White House and trashed the joint, and they never viewed him as a legitimate president (see Impeachment, Clinton). The same thing is happening here with President Obama, who in spite of his high approval ratings, is seen as a usurper, and they’re doing very little to tamp down the unsubtle racism that goes along with their disagreements over policy.

The reason is simple: the Republicans view anyone in the White House who isn’t one of them as illegitimate, regardless of qualifications or competence, and as a matter of principle they will oppose anything put forth by a president from the Democratic Party without regard to merit or reasonableness. They don’t care. As long as it’s not one of them, they won’t have it. This gets them into some interesting twists of logic and turning on their own to shoot down anyone in the party who might be suggesting that moderation might at least keep them in the picture.

Far be it from me to give helpful advice to the Republicans; if they wish to keep alienating minorities, including Hispanics, African-Americans, the gay community, and test-marketing “Fascist” as the new label for the majority party, go right ahead. As Matthew Ygleisas notes, “if you don’t moderate on anything, then you’re basically leaving the fate of the Republican Party entirely in Barack Obama’s hands. If he screws up in an utterly spectacular way (see Bush, George W.) then there’s no telling what kind of agenda can win. But if not, then this’ll let Democrats win by default.”

The grassroots are pushing the Republicans to the right…. Right over the cliff.