Michael Lofgren, The GOP “Cult,” and the Same Old Same Old
By way of Erik, I came to read Michael Lofgren’s well-written but ultimately unconvincing piece about the “Cult” of the GOP in Truthout. And I can’t deny it was a fun read, as I certainly enjoyed reading it. It had all of the things that a good juicy political insider’s scoop/scandal has: quotes from inside operatives admitting to nefarious acts, shadowy hands giving in to ill intentions, and a large conspiracy to undermine our nation and way of life. More to the point, it makes for a really good story, and better still it creates a story that feeds into the narrative that most of us are already telling ourselves about the GOP: that the GOP is working cynically to destroy the government and all of its power.
Mind you, much of the smaller observations in the piece are certainly true – indeed, they’re pretty common narrative. That the GOP does tend to (openly) support public policies that favor the wealthy is a bit of a “duh,” as is the observation that they enjoy portraying themselves as the more hawkish party. Likewise, the admission that the GOP (ironically) sells its soul to get the conservative religious vote is so clearly true as to be a bit of an odd “insider confession.” The one bit of real confession – that the GOP is willing to push subtle or overt buttons of racial fear with white people on purpose – is about the only item listed that the GOP wouldn’t happily profess to doing on FOX.
While ticking off so many obvious issues, then, it is odd that Lofgren’s main point misses so far from the mark. According to Lofgren, “[u]ndermining Americans’ belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy.” It appears to Lofgren that the GOP is willing to throw away all of it’s well- and ill-gained electoral booty on the hope that they can make their very industry obsolete. My response to this is:
On what planet?
The truth about the corruption of both parties is simultaneously more insidious, pernicious and banal than Lofgren’s conspiracy theory. At the end of the day, Rs and Ds alike are both looking to maximize revenue, power and influence – each of which help feed the others. Full stop. Democrats like to point out that they’re the party that helps the underprivileged, especially minorities. It forgets to remind everyone that for a much longer period of time it ran on anti-black fear mongering that makes today’s GOP look like a Jesse Jackson campaign, and switched when it saw an electoral opportunity. And make no mistake about it – were the Democratic Party to determine that long-term power could be gained by selling minorities down the river, they’d do it in a heartbeat. Because the party ideals each side professes to live and die for are just slogans designed to get you to give your small slice of power to them to use. Like it or not, the purpose of professional politics isn’t making real our dreamy dreams, it’s the accumulation of power.
Do people hate paying taxes, and hate when the government tells them what they have to do? Is the GOP willing to use that feeling of helplessness and the anger it engenders to get votes? Yes and yes. But let’s not get carried away. That the GOP leaders are looking to destroy the very thing that brings them money, power, book deals, TV contracts, sex with young interns, “gifts” from concerned industry lobbyists, and every other perk that comes along with being a celebrity in today’s media driven circus that is National Politics because “they just can’t stand to see government interfering in people’s lives any longer” makes me want to howl with laughter. It would be one thing if over the course of my lifetime people who were elected on promises to “get government out of the people’s business” had ever given a half-ass attempt at doing so. I mean, I don’t want this thread to devolve into a What Obama Should Be Blamed For vs. What George Bush Should Be Blamed For, but does Lofgren even remember the past decade? The GOP is happy to sell out anti government ideals for seniors, the oil industry (does an industry that makes the profits they do really need federal subsidies at the rate they suck them down?), bankers, homeowners, and just about anyone else that can bring it power for just a wee bit longer. And even in it’s current wacky and self-destructive spin cycle, the GOP isn’t really telling people that government will cost less and get off our backs. It’s telling certain people that they will pay less and have less interference, along with promises that others will be handed the bill and undergo more scrutiny. The “let’s abolish medicare and social security” lines only get rolled out for the appropriate audiences, and are packed up and discarded soon after.
Lofgren’s story about the GOP makes good copy, and reading it allows those of us who dislike the GOP a fine moment of self-satisfaction – but it’s no more true than the bag of goods the GOP is trying to sell you.