To the uninitiated, it all might seem the same.
Without a fundamental grasp of economics or sociology, our two party political system might appear to be two sides of the same coin. Granted, in some ways both the political left and right are similar in their duplicity. However in most ways, especially in regards to the departure from the post WW2 economic model that built the largest middle class in the history of western civilization that brought about the civil rights movement and put both a man on the moon and a computer in everyone’s home, only the 21st century Republican party and their sympathetic media affiliates represent a fundamental divergence from the socio/economic ideals that made America great.
With the discourse of the conservative entertainment complex driving the nation’s narrative further and further right, the political middle has moved accordingly. As such, well intentioned political centrists –in an effort to be a voice of reason in our nation’s vitriolic partisanship– are finding themselves making socio/economic concessions that just a few years ago would have been considered both irrational, and far too extreme. Today’s center was yesterday’s far right.
The dismantling of all of the socio/economic mechanisms between FDR and Ronald Reagan has become rationalized via right wing/corporatist/theocratic platitudes. Vilifying the economic functions that created post war America is a singular Republican phenomenon. Yet there remains a concerted effort on the part of many to attempt a political counter-balance by equating less-than-sane, economically illiterate ravings from a GOP –now controlled by fundamentalist, Dominionist Christians– and whatever imbecilic dolt one can dredge from the left.
But these are false equivalents.
For there is no Democratic equal for the Christian Dominionist right, and the twelfth century socio/economic model they propose. Virtually every piece of legislation initiated by the GOP in the twenty-first century is designed to create a greater economic disparity between the very wealthy, and everyone else. There is a consistent effort on the part of the Christian fundamentalist 21st century GOP to subjugate women, punish the poor, and make the working class bear the entire burden of economic austerity. And it has become impossible to run for national office as a republican without capitulating to the Evangelical lobby.
There is no Democratic equivalent for the TEA Party, and their less-than-sane, not too-bright socio/economic affirmations. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement not only couldn’t get traction within the Democratic Party, it ran no candidates for public office. The bastardization of history and scripture –not to mention the thinly veiled bigotry of the TEA Party– have become standard talking points within the Republican party.
Moreover, there is no Democratic equivalent for the irrational ravings of the Conservative Entertainment Complex and their corresponding media affiliates. While MSNBC might be a ridiculously partisan public relations outlet for the left, FOX news has no equal in their fact deficient moral bankruptcy, or their unapologetic conjuring of fear driven non-events . Indeed, FOX News has the worst fact-check record on television, by far. It’s not just that FOX presents “news” in a partisan fashion, they fabricate it to create paranoia from their constituency. Likewise, right- wing talk radio is inundated with hate mongering lunatics who tout paranoid schizophrenic platitudes like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, or Alex Jones… for which there are no comparable counterparts from the left.
And there is no Democratic equivalent for the quasi-celebrities that continually get air-time in the conservative talk-o-sphere. Across America, synaptically impaired conservative celebrities like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Ted Nugent have become stars by blathering irrational, fact deficient banalities. With a pedestrian socio/economic acumen, these dullards get regular spots on conservative TV and radio programs, and get paid to speak at TEA party rallies. There is no Democratic example of this.
So I often hear from folks on social media that both Democrats & Republicans are “equally to blame” for our nation’s economic woes, and that neither party is interested in helping the middle class. But the socio/economic reality is far from that comparison. I understand the noble intention of neutrality, but in this instance, it is misguided.
Like frogs in a kettle, the GOP electorate has been subjected to the economic temperature slowly having been turned up over time. A further right discourse has been slowly introduced to working class Republicans over the past 30 years, and many are finding it difficult to realize that their party has moved away from them. The Corporatist/Christian Dominionist GOP now accords the best interests of an elite few. As it has been in every example of history when religion and politics become one, every Republican socio/economic measure of austerity comes at the expense of the middle class.
So sure, the Democratic party is flawed, and in many ways, infuriating. I get that. But to be a working class Republican in the twenty first century, one must concede reason to willful socio/economic ignorance, if not one’s own bigoted predispositions. Where it concerns sociology, economics, and the mechanisms that made this country great … when juxtaposed against the very ideals the 21st century GOP propose and the history of how theocracies impact the proletariat… There are no rational comparisons to be made between the blemished Democratic party, and the irrational GOP.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”-Inigo Montoya
Along with the confounding of the meaning of faith as it applies to facts, there are a myriad of other linguistic bastardizations being disseminated for those inclined towards a less than rational approach to governance. It is unknown if the evangelical Christian – TEA Party – Republican voting base is aware of the political cryptography that’s been woven into their limited lexicon. That is entirely dependent upon each individuals capacity for introspection. However, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that many who have fallen prey to the lyrical musings of the Conservative Entertainment Complex lack the cognitive ability to make the distinction between annotation and proselytism.
Thus, the context of words and phrases within the Republican talk-o-sphere has been conveniently altered so as to equate to something very different –and sometimes the opposite– of what they were originally intended. Because most evangelical Republican voters never understood what these words and phrases meant to begin with.
While Jesus makes terrific bait to hook the Christian fish, it takes more New Testament propaganda to steer an entire socio/political movement. Those who would hope to leverage Jesus as a means to co opt the Republican party also have had to convince Republican voters that not only was the son of god a total conservative whose motto was “every man for himself”, they also have to usurp traditionally admirable words and phrases, and change their meanings so as to coincide with a Dominionist agenda. An entire vernacular has been re-written, and introduced into the Republican thesaurus in order to transform the GOP from the party of Eisenhower, into corporatist theocrats.
Hence, the TEA-vangelical movement was born.
Part of the altering of Republican perception regarding the separation of church and state, and translating that into a socio/economic movement towards an Orwellian division of wealth, is to change language. Woven into the conservative lexicon are misrepresentations of words like “Patriotism”, “Entitlements”, “Freedom”, and “Socialism”… and terms like “Class Warfare”, “Free Market” and “Family Values”. Within the GOP-giest, all of these expressions mean something entirely different today than they did a half generation ago.
Indeed, the socio/economic mechanisms which created the greatest economy and the largest middle class the world has ever seen in the years following World War ll, have become vilified as socialist, and anti American. The free market has been redefined as a collusive, rigged market. Patriotism has come to be mean having an irrational disdain for government. Class warfare is used as a term to blame the poor for being impoverished. Family Values now means Christian-only values. And in GOP terms, freedom equates to earning less, not having health care, and yearning for the bondage of trickledown economics.
Moreover, the racism inherent within Dominionist socio/economics is dismissed as politically correctness. TEA-Partiers consistently wave Confederate flags, display overtly ignorant, culturally biased signs, and champion bigots. Yet TEA-vangelicals cavalierly disregard their own bigoted ravings as the free expression of “patriots” as guaranteed by the first amendment. Saying racist things, in the TEA/GOP, somehow does not equate to racism. Moreover, to refer to a right wing racist as a racist is –in their minds–racist. It’s dizzying, I know.
The same can be said about the word “Morality.” Somewhere along the GOP party line, morality –especially as it applies to Jesus of Nazareth– has come to mean an utter lack of empathy and compassion. Screw the poor. And if the sick can’t afford decent health care, well then so be it. As Republican Jesus always used to say, “Fuck em’.”
As such, a few very wealthy people, motivated by their own self interests have decided that the best way to rally support to their cause was to prey upon their vulnerable, albeit culturally biased psyches of Christian voters. Like many before them who hope to garner more political power, TEA-publicans invoke the name Jesus for financial gain. Hence, the truly moral enterprise is to fight against an ideology whose ultimate goal is to keep the masses in poverty in favor of a reigning aristocracy. There is a patriotic, moral obligation to fight the wicked oppression of religious fundamentalism within our borders.
But to win the hearts and minds of those who revere their chains is never easy. The sado-masochistic premise from which they operate –loving both a god who reciprocates love via reward and punishment, and admiring their economic oppressors– is a difficult psychological barrier to negotiate. For it seems that the only thing that TEA-vangelical voters willfully understand less than their bible, is the Constitution.
Despite the cliché, perception is not reality. Subjective reality and actual reality can be two very different things. There’s often a big difference between perception and reality, especially when one’s perception is confounded with maniacal predispositions. Despite what a schizophrenic might perceive, the voices in their heads aren’t really there.
… And despite what a Tea Partier might believe, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker are not really Republicans.
As such, the political perception of what constitutes a Republican has changed drastically over the past few years. Although I’m often called a RINO (a label that I wear proudly) so too would Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater wear that same label in today’s partisan discourse. Although the perception from the GOP electorate has changed regarding what constitutes reasonable socio/economics for the party, that doesn’t deter from the reality that today’s Republican perspectives are an utter departure from what they were when the GOP helped build the largest middle class and strongest economy in the world in the years following World War Two.
But now the manner in which we choose our political affiliations is more akin to how we choose our sports teams. We are a nation of Yankees and Red Sox fans, whose ideologies are rooted in the disdain for the other. We’re reflexively rooting for D’s and R’s. But that’s not how rational people make determinations, especially when the reality is, that as Americans, we all play for the same team.
Regardless of what political party anyone identifies themselves with, rational people remain independent until the reasons for said affiliation are warranted. Will most people find themselves leaning one way or the other? Sure. But anyone who is reasonable will not make their political determinations by who proposes legislation, but rather by what the legislation proposes. Somewhere along the line, my fellow Republicans have lost sight of that.
Which is why political centrism is so important.
Contrary to popular understanding, centrism is not about being in the middle of every, or for that matter, any issue. It is about not allowing a coalition to make determinations for you. The center relies on socio/economic facts in favor of party affiliation. If facts tend to coincide with a particular political ideology, then so be it. If that dynamic occurs disproportionately, then so be that, too.
Balance for balance sake has no place in our political discourse. The journalistic obligation is to report stories in successive order as they pertain to national importance, and to do so truthfully. It is not to make a concerted effort to counter-balance it with something random from the other side of the political aisle. What the false “balance” dynamic imposes is a license for special interests to run amok, secure that regardless of how many socially regressive or economically nonsensical items of legislation they propose, “balance” requires that something from the opposition deserves equal media scrutiny.
The reality is that the TEA Party, Corporatists, and Theocrats have taken over the GOP, and they are not only not Republicans. Neither are they mentally stable. The political right has gotten so irrational that when one speaks truth to stupid, and exposes the socio/economic lack of reason continuously exhibited by TEA-publican candidates, they are accused of “Liberal Media” bias. It’s political hipster-ism for those who lack introspection, and/or acumen.
In the present political climate, there is no Democratic equivalent for the sheer crazy that pours from TEA Party Republicans. There are no Alan Wests, Michele Bachmans, or Todd Aikens elected to public office with a (D) next to their names… nor are there any celebrity equivalents to Ted Nugent, Donald Trump, or Sarah Palin who get regular spots on FOX news. However the far right wingnuts require balance in reporting, despite the lack of balance from where the crazy originates. The idea that a responsible media would have to counterbalance a disproportional amount of lunacy emanating from the political right by manufacturing items from the left is not reasonable.
As the political “middle” moves further right in the wake of the Republican Party having been hijacked by extremist ideologues, the political center remains beholden to facts. It is incumbent upon rational centrists who identify as Republicans to make the distinction between the TEA Party/ lunatic fringe, and the socio/economic principles that defined the GOP from a generation ago. Because the political center is not the political middle. It is where the facts lie. And if the discourse cantilevers overtly to the right, –although the perception of where the center is might change– that does not alter the reality of where the facts of centrism reside.
The perception, and the reality of the political center are two very different things.