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Thursday, October 09, 2008

What Happens If McCain Loses?

It's a vision of our possible future. Unfortunately, I see only a minor flaw in the argument. Otherwise, it seems like a lead pipe cinch. Matthew Yglesias points us to a paragraph from Kevin Drum:

...If McCain loses, as he’s almost certain to, we’re going to see two reactions. First, [McCain messaging guru] Steve Schmidt wasn’t nasty enough. In the future, Republicans need to return to their Lee Atwater roots and really teach Americans what liberal treachery is all about. Second, we told you a RINO couldn’t win. The conservative base will be convinced for years that the big problem with McCain was that he was trying to be a pale shadow of liberal Democrats. (Sarah Palin will be conveniently forgotten, or else finally seen for the tokenism she really is.) The nation still hungers for genuine conservatism, they’ll say, and they knew McCain was a phony all along. If only the party had nominated a Romney or a Huckabee the public would have swarmed to their cause.


The flaw I see is in saying that Palin forgotten or otherwise dismissed. I think you'll hear some on the right say that Palin was the better candidate, that we should have more candidates like Sarah Palin. Otherwise, dead on. The lesson the right is going to take away from the results in November won't be that their ideas have been rejected. The lesson they'll take away is that McCain wasn't a complete ass and that Republicans must become much, much worse. A real Republican would've won, they'll say. And by "real Republican," they'll mean the average moron who calls into Rush Limbaugh.





The reasoning isn't exactly sound, but post-Bush conservatism isn't known for its rationality. They've become used to attacking reality as "elitist." Consider who they apply that word to -- people who speak objective truth. Elitists are journalists, scientists, college professors... I could go on, but a shorter way to put it would be "people who know what the hell they're talking about." Global warming? A myth from elitist scientists. Evolution? Same bunch. Sarah Palin's poor performance with Katie Couric? Liberal media elites with their "gotcha" journalism. As reality proves them wrong again and again and again, the reaction isn't to rethink their positions. No, their reaction is to rebel against reality. Truth has a liberal bias and people who talk about objective truths are liberal elitists -- snobs who sneer at the "real" people. And "real" people are those who use "common sense" to come to completely incorrect conclusions. The right is dumbing everything down to the point that I wouldn't be surprised to hear someone complain that elitists with their pointy-headed ideas about "math" are responsible for the deficit.

Basically, they'll assume they didn't treat you like enough of a moron. And, as the IQ of their target audience goes down, everyone else will become an "elitist." How else can you explain how McCain -- the son of a Navy Admiral -- can get away with accusing Obama -- the son of a single mother -- of elitism? It's insanity. But it's a popular theme on the right. Why? Because Obama has a bad habit of using the truth to contradict McCain. People who insist on getting it right are all elitists.

As a result, we're already getting a glimpse of the future Republican base. Stupid and reactionary, gullible and authoritarian, pigheaded and eager to hate, they're now the audience at any McCain-Palin event.

Radar Online:

The Secret Service is following up on media reports today that someone in the crowd at a McCain/Palin event suggested killing Barack Obama, according to Secret Service spokesman Malcolm Wiley. The shout of "kill him" followed a Sarah Palin rant on Obama's relationship with radical Chicagoan Bill Ayers...

Wiley said that the Secret Service had tried to get in touch with Milbank to get his account of the event but was unsuccessful. Were they able to confirm the remark they'd "be looking to talk to that person," Wiley said. "We investigate everything because we take all threats seriously."


"[W]hat we are watching more generally is an attempt to turn the Republican base into a 21st century lynch mob," writes David Sirota. "Whether it's using Obama's middle name to imply he's a Muslim, or McCain and Palin saying nothing when a frothing crowd screams 'kill him!' or 'terrorist' in reference to the Illinois senator, the right is doing everything it can to stir up a violent mob. And it's working."

This new Republican base is already manifesting itself. Not only at campaign rallies, but everywhere. In Louisiana, a moron named Wade Williams threatened to shoot election officials over a delayed voter registration card. Williams told officials he needed to vote to "keep the nigger out of office" and threatened to bring a shotgun to the Registrar of Voters office. He was arrested for the threat and officers reported that he "continued his 'tirade' about niggers and also stated that he had a shotgun, but had it hidden at his residence." Williams was charged with "felony terrorizing," AKA domestic terrorism.

And this should surprise no one. McCain campaigners are spreading racism in their desperation. It doesn't seem to come from the top, but is done on the supporters own volition. Still, we aren't hearing a lot of discouragement from the campaign.

In Virginia, for example -- a state Obama's nearly certain to win -- McCain's Buchanan County campaign chair wrote a "satirical" newspaper column that was pretty damned racist. Among the hilarity; that Obama would "raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base," replace the stars on the US flag with "a star and crescent logo," and put rapper Ludacris' portrait on paper money. The chair, an ass named Bobby May, was fired by the McCain campaign. Of course, no one wondered how he wound up on the team in the first place. And no one was surprised that a Virginia Republican resorted to race-baiting when his back was up against the wall.

Given this, what would we expect to see after McCain loses? What lessons can we assume these people -- who despise knowledge as "elitist" -- will take away from it? Certainly not that they weren't reasonable enough, since they seem to believe that reason is for fools.

No, what they'll think they've learned is that McCain wasn't a big enough ass. That he didn't hit hard enough -- or far enough below the belt. That they didn't hate enough, that they didn't insult enough, that they didn't lie enough, and that they didn't assume you were an idiot often enough.

That's the future of the GOP -- racist and divisive and reactionary. Stupid, hateful, ignorant and damned proud of it. A Republican party that's a minority in both houses and out of the White House -- perhaps without even the filibuster to rely on -- will rely on its version of populism. And that version is an appeal to the lowest possible common denominator.

The good news is that this will probably screw them even further. The bad news is that it's almost certain to happen.

-Wisco

1 comment:

Dade said...

Excellent and all-too-accurate examination of the modern-day conservative movement.

This is the penultimate phase of the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove brand of politics. The next, final phase is brown-shirted goon squads storming around towns administering "justice."

It's gonna get interesting!