Monday, November 02, 2015

Worse Than Dick Cheney... But Will Normal Voters Recognize That In Ted Cruz Before It's Too Late?


How much anxiety, in 1932, did it take for German voters to give the Nazi Party 37.3% of the vote-- their highest in a free election? That was in July of 1932 to be precise and 13,745,000 Germans elected 230 Nazis to the Reichstag. 4 months later-- with Hitler screeching that he should be Chancellor, instead of monarchist and centrist Franz von Papen-- new election didn't go aw well for the Nazi's, 11,737,000 votes (33.1%) and 196 seats. That was, suddenly, Germany's last free election.

George W. Bush's assistant for policy and strategic planning and now a Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote a fascinating and widely syndicated column on GOP paranoia and victimology, Apocalyptic rhetoric brings end times nearer-- for GOP. Apparently in Republicanville we're at one of the points in American history, where history itself is about to culminate and cease. "[T]here is a cost to using the apocalypse for emphasis," he wrote. "It hardly needs to be said (though apparently it does) that Trump, Cruz, and Carson are wrong about America. We are not like Nazi Germany, even a little bit. We are not teetering on the verge of national oblivion. And there are immigrants who risk everything to reach the country Trump consigns to hell. America has a long list of social and economic challenges, disturbingly (and unjustly) concentrated in certain communities. But we are not slouching toward Gomorrah. Over the last few decades, divorce rates and abortion rates have both declined. Levels of violent crime have dropped dramatically. The American economy, for all its problems, still attracts the world’s capital and the world’s best students. We have a wonderful country, thank you, flawed and free, carrying the highest political ideals of humanity, always capable of hope and healing."

In his National Memo essay Sunday, A Theory of The 2016 Conservative Apocalypse, Francis Wilkinson, a former corporate communications consultant who also worked for Democratic campaigns, never directly mentioned Hitler or fascists-- although he did mention that Huckabee has been campaigning for votes by claiming that Christianity has been criminalized, while Texas Senator Ted Cruz tells his audiences that the White House is "the world’s leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism" and that, according to supposedly mainstream New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton "believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts." And that's not the half of it.
In any case, blaming the presidential candidates half misses the point; the entire conservative movement is packed into hell’s little hand basket. Immigration restrictionists bewail President Barack Obama’s chimerical “open” borders while millions of the dispossessed allegedly fix their sights on obtaining “free stuff” at the expense of honest (conservative) taxpayers.

When the hordes arrive, you’d best have guns and ammo ready. “Do you trust this government really to protect you and your family?” thundered the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre in a 2014 speech. Only a sap believes the government can protect him, even though he should absolutely believe that the government has the resources and will to confiscate some 300 million guns in private hands. “We’re on our own,” LaPierre concluded.

Abandoned, neglected, alone-- yet nonetheless completely smothered by an all-encompassing big government: That is the conservative condition.

Wrenching changes in the economy are no doubt contributing to despair. Rising inequality is a particular challenge to conservative orthodoxy. The left has a ready target-- the rich-- and an all-purpose remedy-- tax ‘em!-- that conservatives are loath to adopt. But conservative explanations for soaring wealth among the richest and stagnation for everyone else can’t be very satisfying even to conservatives. Blaming a powerful, multi-decade trend on “Obama” or “crony capitalism” just doesn’t cut it.

Such particular discomforts exist within a broader context. Two trends, one domestic and one global, are bound to increase status anxiety; each complements and reinforces the other.

In the U.S., the white majority is in the process of giving way to a nonwhite majority around mid-century. It’s the sort of thing white people might not think much about it — until the nation elects its first nonwhite president, a handy and persistent reminder that their days in the majority are numbered. Multiple surveys and studies have indicated that many whites-- especially conservative whites-- are not looking forward to the transition.

Outside the U.S., a similar transformation is under way. U.S. hegemony is giving way to a multi-polar world and the rise of China as an increasingly powerful economic and geopolitical competitor. Amid civil wars, streams of refugees and Russian provocations, the U.S. appears helpless: interventions magnify chaos, retreat invites irrelevance. The whole globe seems a giant Hobson’s choice.

The erosion of U.S. global pre-eminence mirrors what whites are experiencing domestically. Job security has vanished, and even sinking unemployment hasn’t produced sizable wage gains. First, women and minorities wanted American jobs. Then the continent of Asia and the rest of the world got in on the action. Is it any wonder that non-college-educated white men form the backbone of the grievance party?

Economic uncertainty and status anxiety are hardly unique to whites, conservatives or the 21st century. But the double-barreled revolutions at home and abroad make the whole world, near and afar, seem up for grabs.

Whether the seeds of fear would sprout quite so robustly without the aid of a little demagogy is a reasonable question. As Gerson wrote:
Apocalyptic rhetoric is more than the evidence of historical ignorance and bad speech-writing. It leads to a distorted politics. If the United States has reached its midnight hour, it means that the institutions that have gotten us here are utterly discredited. The normal avenues of political reform are useless.
When the normal avenues can be deemed “useless,” extreme measures become self-justifying. The corollary, playing out in the 2016 Republican campaign, is that candidates are no longer forced to justify extreme rhetorical wares. The monsters they describe are taken on faith. After all, the voters swear they’ve seen them too.
Is Cruz as bad as Hitler? Well... probably not for the Jews. But I would rather not test out that probability. Because just judging by the things Cruz says and his record in public office, he would be America's first fascist president and certainly worse than Cheney... or even Trump.

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At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Russian provocations"?

John Puma

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Cirze said...

It seems pretty clear to me that Cruz is a pretender.

Take a look at his college record and pics.

He's completely patterned himself up to now to be the candidate of the doofus right - the primary voters.

I don't believe any foolishness he utters.

He's a man with a plan.

And a very dangerous one, along with Ryan and the others currently assuming high positions of political power.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost expect the GOP to follow a similar script as did the NDSAP if it looks like Reince Priebus' minions lose power at any level.


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