Monday, March 5, 2012

Napalming The Bridge To The 21st Century, Or How To Ruin A Political Party Without Really Trying.

I’ve been watching the epic train wreck that is the modern Republican Party with a mixture of gob-smacked surprise and growing fear. The Party seems bound and determined to become the modern equivalent of the Whigs. It is fast becoming defined not by what it stands for, but what it stands against.

Is this the last and inevitable step of the process set up by the Sainted Don Reynaldo? Has what began as an anti-government philosophy finally degenerated into a general rejection of the Post Modern era and everything it stands for?

I can’t seem to make any sense of the Republican Parties will toward self-destruction. In  what parallel universe is it good political strategy to infuriate 50% of the electorate? I ask because that is what the Elephants have been doing for the last two weeks.

I kind of get this, in a marginal way. The Republicans have been so successful for so long doubling down on the stupid that is has become a reflex. So when Obama split the baby for the Catholic Bishops on Birth Control coverage, it became axiomatic that the Republicans would not put down the cudgel of “religious liberty”

What I did not expect is that the Republicans would begin to use that cudgel to bash in their own heads. For almost two weeks the Elephants have been indulging themselves in a very disturbing bit of performance art, where they demonstrate why they should not be trusted to run a small boy scout troop, never mind the hyperpower of the United States of America.

The all out assault on the entire cohort of Vagina-bearing Americans has been a thing of terror to behold. It has been quite a he-man women haters club for the Party Of Lincoln. It got so bad that Olympia Snowe, Republican economic troglodyte / big business zombie in good standing,  finally baled out of the Republican Party. This is a woman who probably has little elephants printed on her intimate attire walking out because even she can’t take the toxic levels of testosterone coursing through the GOP. That Olympia Snowe, Calvin Coolidge in a skirt, could no longer tolerate the boy’s only club the Republican Party has become speaks volumes about how bad its gotten.

The breaking point was most likely the Blunt Amendment. That this pointless, foolish, badly thought out, badly written, ultra-reactionary diatribe even saw the light of day is an insult to any woman who is not tied to stove by some whack-a-loon renegade Mormon living the plural marriage dream in the middle of the Nevada desert.

The Blunt Amendment zooms right by plain misogyny and rockets onward to the reinstatement of serfdom; and not just for women. It make every working man and women who works for a living a subservient peon to the whims of his or her employee. It strips the agency of salaried worker and reduces him or her to the level of a five year old who’s purchasing decisions can be vetoed by big daddy.

That the Blunt Amendment failed on a Party line vote shows how badly the Republican Party has lurched into the new feudalism of the right. It shows how the “Liberty” that the right talks about is the liberty of Ultra-Wealthy white males to crush the 99.9% of Americans who are not part of that exclusive club.

Much of this is the bitter tail end of the identity politics that made the Nixon / Reagan Republican Party so dominant from the seventies onward. The Republicans really lashed themselves to the mast of White Male Evangelical and Blue Collar resentment. For most of fifty years, the Reagan meme of government being the problem; of government taking money from good hard working working white men and giving it to the undeserving has been pure political gold.

But the problem with the politics of fear and resentment is that you got to keep raising the ante. Thus by the time Pappy Bush came up for reelection the specter of Bill Clinton the Republicans presented was fairly hair raising. By the time the Big Dog had gotten reelected the Elephants were ready to vomit blood, which they did; only the act was called an “impeachment.”

Which brings us to the attempted reelection of Barack Obama. I have no idea of how the Democrats managed it, but they managed to nominate, then elect every Heartland, Fly-Over State, Republican’s worst nightmare: an urban, urbane, black man as President. Overnight a depressed, divided, demoralized GOP found a unifying principle; make Obama a one term president.

But a funny thing happened on the way to putting a wrecking ball to Barack Obama: Mitt Romney.  With no excitement being generated by the March To Mitt, it looks like Republicans are going to the social issues. But as the Elephants have mined the “hey have you noticed the President is black” political vein to exhaustion,and the Gay Marriage freak out is on life support; what’s a social conservative to do?

The answer, such as it is, was to freak out on sex. Specifically it was to freak out on female sexual agency. The specific freak out was on contraception, and how the mean, nasty, Christ-hating, Obama was going to force the Catholic Bishops to provide birth control to employees.  But I’m still a little confused what the Republicans were driving at. There was this weird discussion about a little bit of Republican kink that involved a woman holding an aspirin between her legs; some people’s notions of foreplay are a bit odd.

Still the whole clown-car about how Bayer can make a woman a moral actor was much more informative than the Republicans intended it to be. It shone a light on a seriously warped understanding of how not only female sexuality works,  but also a warped understanding how human sexuality works outside the missionary position.

I have no idea when the Republicans lost the memo, but in the spirit of true bi-partisanship I will reissue it to them, if they care to read it: sex is pleasurable, and human beings are into pleasure. Even good Christian women have sex for reasons other than procreation. I know, shocking. But for reasons that can only be explained by an ideological adherence to some very toxic and very rigid religious beliefs, plus a whole lot of free-floating misogyny;  the Republicans have decided to dump the 99% of women who use birth control into the whore part of the Chaste / Whore dichotomy. Well, at least they are being consistent in their support of the 1%.

Maybe the Republicans wanted, in their own very strange way, to honor Valentine’s Day,  and the month of love. God knows they have no use for the other part of February--Black History Month. Still forcing Virginia women to undergo vaginal probes if they dare to get abortions, medical rape by any other name, is odd Valentine to give the women of  the state. Equally odd was the all male panel the Republican Congress served up on Birth Control. Plus there was that odd bit where the Republican controlled Congressional Committee declined to hear the testimony of one women on the subject and then slagged another women via Rush Limbaugh for impudence to testify for her right to control her fertility. The Committee had no problem with hearing the musings of a panel of reactionary, women-hating, males though.

The Republicans keep going to this well, and they keep getting their heads handed to them by the blow-back. But this is just the rights obsessions getting the better of them. There is so little that truly unites the right these days. The movement is intellectually exhausted, emotionally fragile, and bitterly divided. Only their hates unite the fragmented right. They hate Obama. They hate Women. They Hate Romney. In that order it seems.

But what happens after 2012? If Obama is reelected, he can only last as an organizing principle to 2014. Mitt will be forced into political Siberia if 2012 ends up goose eggs at the top slot. That only leaves women-hating and the fear of the brown menace to shore up the GOP. Outside the South that spells almost immediate collapse. Even in the South, there is only so long that the Republican Party can avoid the demographic wrecking ball. Piss off enough women, and all the skullduggery the Republicans have done to lock out competition in the South will come to naught; and fairly quickly.

While the US has had a political duopoly ever since Washington’s Farewell Address, the  parties occupying those two slots have changed. Both the Whig and Federalist Parties have gone the way of the Trilobite, extinct. There is no particular reason why the Republican Party can’t join them. And if the Republican Party keeps disrespecting female voters the way it has been for the last two weeks, it could end up on the ash heap of history a lot sooner than anyone would expect.

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