“A Normal Party”

Many of us here on this blog have said what columnist David Brooks said in his latest op-ed.  We have been criticized for that by those to the right-of-center, but now that a man on the right-of-center has said it, I guess that we were correct all along. Brooks wrote, “That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.”

‘Not a normal party.’ That’s quite a frightening idea. Yet we’ve all witnessed over the past few years a string of odd ideas and queer people in the Republican Party. Many long-time party members shake their heads in disbelief and wonder where ‘their party’ has gone.

When I was a kid, my parents were members of the ‘normal’ Republican Party.  Even during my late adolescence and early adulthood, I respected the GOP and the leaders in that party. Some good ideas and programs came out of the party.  Of course, I understood that it attracted the more affluent, well-to-do people, yet it did not serve that class exclusively. Many farmers were attracted to the GOP along with the business class- a truly odd pairing to be sure.

Brooks continues:  The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise….The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities….The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency….The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name.

No logic. Anti-intellectualism. No moral decency.  No economic theory. What the hell kind of ‘party’ is this? Or, it may beg the question, Is it a party at all? Perhaps it is merely an umbrella for the malcontents of society. The angry people. The ones who believe that they got screwed along their path of life. And it was never their fault. Someone else did it to them.

My mind goes back to the children’s cartoon when Rudolph goes to the Island of Misfit Toys- that odd collection of anomalous characters that just didn’t fit into ‘normal’ toy society. Of course, these were characters screwed-up on the outside, not necessarily on the inside. The abnormal members of the GOP, as Brooks identifies them, look quite normal. It is only when they open their mouths [or use the keyboard] that they reveal their inner crazily absurd, eccentric thought patterns.

That line from the Preamble, to promote the general Welfare, chokes these party-affiliates. In fact, when presented with this clause, many will twist into an altogether odd set of gibberish that strangely ends up ‘promoting narcissism and greed.’ Many others are under the assumption that, if they support policies that allow unfettered accumulation of wealth at the top, that this wealth will shower down upon them because of their support.

The characters and personalities which are drawn to today’s Republican Party make up a skewed segment of society- an altogether unique collection of people who, from my point of view, feel that they have been wronged by society in general and oppressed by government in particular. I have often suggested that a psychological study of this set of Americans is a masterpiece yet to be written. Questions like, What caused this misalignment, this skew need to be asked. One that I am particularly interested in is: why would a person work towards, argue and debate against his/her own financial ruin? That question is now synonymous with the book title, What’s the Matter with Kansas?

Brooks concludes, If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right.

What I believe is that those espousing this fanaticism are essentially anarchists disguised as stodgy Republicans. They do not want governance at all. And that ought to scare the hell out of us!


22 thoughts on ““A Normal Party”

  1. Brooks has no room to gripe.

    Where was he when these Tea Party kooks were running for office? Why, he was happily lauding them for being “bold” and “refreshing” and “willing to question conventional wisdom.”

    So, when these Tea Party idiots get elected and actually want to do what they campaigned on–Brooks is shocked.

    Brooks is completely amoral; his main concern is his own stock portfolio. He was willing to get these clowns elected and now he’s worried they’re going send his finances into a deathspiral.

  2. Like you, Muddy, I grew up in a very conservative, Republican household. Like you, I was conservative in my earlier years.

    Were they still alive, my parents would NOT, emphatically NOT, support the current Republicans, and would especially NOT support their bogus economic ideas which are more a fantasy than reality based (and that is probably unfairly insulting fantasy).
    What we need from Brooks, or someone like him, is a modern version of when William F. Buckley Jr. stood up against the fringe crazies of the John Birch Society (the Koch brothers’ father was one of the founders) in 1962 for “being far removed from common sense”. Well, don’t look now but the John Birch society is back, and as crazy as ever. I don’t know when it was that the GOP and conservatives became synonymous with conspiracy theories, or anti-intellectual (something no one could claim about Buckley), but it is time they got rid of the nut jobs, and stopped pandering to the tea party, easily the lowest of the possible common denominators. Not that Buckley couldn’t be an asshole (pardon my coarse language) on occasion, because he could be, including a period of his life when he was blatantly racist. But he made a difference in politics, for the better, from a position of intellectual understanding.
    Sadly I can’t think of anyone in the GOP who meets those criteria in our era. The closest thing I’ve seen besides the Brooks piece was when Tom Coburn, no intellectual, admitted we need to end give-away corporate welfare to oil companies and to big ag for ethanol.

  3. Well, what ever Brooks has been he will be defined by his grand old party by these words. Just as any insider who has tried to criticize the dogmatic corporate juggernaut of the extreme right, he wil either be made to eat his words or be cast out into the darkness…will he be made to kinkily cower in obeisance in Limbaugh’s knotty pine paneled torture chamber of obedience training? I just adore political pornography. It will, one way or the other, be quite entertaining.
    I certainly agree with Doggone’s comments.

    1. I don’t know if Brooks will cave to Limbaugh and recant.

      This might be refreshing just for the delight of seeing someone stand up to the purging extremists, like the denoument of the violence in the French revolution.

      Ah, where or where is Charlotte Corday when she is needed again?
      Ou est la Mlle. Corday maintenant? Nous avons besoin…….

  4. Re ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?,’ low information voters tend to have attention spans that are about 2 seconds long. They also tend to be wildly optimistic about their own fortunes.

    Witness the estate tax. It affects fewer than 15,000 people in the US. Yet, low ingfo voters fervently believe they’re going to inherit $6M someday.

    The same goes for healthcare; the low info voter is happy with his insurance today but may not be so wild about it when his insurance company drops him when he has a heart attack or a bout with cancer.

    The journalist Matt Taibbi noted at a Tea Party rally that a large number of the faithful were tooling around in motorized wheelchairs that were either mostly or completely subsidized by Uncle Sam. The low info voter fervently believes he is entitled to all sorts of things–but that others aren’t.

    1. I refer to that mentality (believing one is entitled to all sorts of things–but that others aren’t) as the ladder principle. Selfishness has become a virtue along with stupidity.

      Unfortunately, the “Tea Party” madness was allowed to go unchallenged in the USMSM, which includes “public broadcasting” since it is pretty much commercial and beholden to commercial interests (Public Broadcasting is “underwritten” which is code for being commercial).

      The whole time nothing has been said about progressive alternatives because that viewpoint is Taboo. Let’s hope that the taboo against progressive concepts will be broken.

  5. Thank you all. It was so nice and refreshing to read the post today and all the comments.

    Now spank me because I’m going to be bad. “low information voters”? Really? Do they ever post here? (Sorry, but I just love that phrase. It describes soooo many people.)

  6. mudrake,
    I like your new look! Regarding the Republicans, though, they have become so extremist and far right that they are now far frim normal. 40 years ago, morons like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Sarah Palin would have been quickly dismissed and outright rejected as dangerous fringe extremists. Unstead, today, our conservative corporatist media passes them off as credible, even acceptable GOP candidates.

    The Reagan and Gingrich revolutions have pushed the entire country very far to the right of where it has traditionally been, and that is BAD. We are completely out of touch with the rest of the world politically and have been reduced to a nation of ignorant scoundrels obsessed with profit, entertainment, and militarism. It is small wonder that most of the rest of the world hates us.

    1. I take issue with your assertion that the rest of the world (or ‘ROW’, to use the Eddie Izzard acronym) hates us.

      They might think we’ve lost our national mind occasionally; and in turns that we’re oversexed or unconscionably prudish and inconsistent.

      But hate us? Not since Obama came into office; the stats on the remediation of our international image are startling.

  7. Thank you, everyone, for joining this conversation. I am amazed each day that so many of you participate and add your relevant thoughts and ideas.

    My blog is open not only to Sepp but to 4 others [right-of-center thinkers] who occasionally post their thoughts here too. It would be great if, as Rodney King famously quipped, we could all get along.

    Unfortunately we seemingly cannot all get along and, sadly, we have marched to our separate bunkers and have taken up defensive positions, armed with our semiautomatic word-blasters.

    This blog is a microcosm of the current American political scene- one that did not exist in the era in which I grew up. Senators and congressmen actually spoke to each other, not at each other. Language was civil and respectful. Things got done- that’s the point that no longer exists in the American political scene. Both major parties worked for the interests of The People rather than for the interests of a small set of people.

    Lately I’ve bristled at a pervasive theme that has tripped off of the tongues of members of today’s Republican Party. I’m sure that we are all familiar with the propaganda. Yet, even though it is blatantly false, the ‘low-information-voters’ will, in Pavlov-dog synchronicity, nod their heads in approval. Here it is: We can’t raise taxes on them because they are the job-creators. Alternately it is: Job-killing taxes!

    The simplicity of it all is seductive to the untrained ear and will, no doubt, induce the lemmings over the cliffs. That’s my point. That’s my frustration with ‘The People.’ We are clearly a low-information clutch of voters. And, I am not specifically pointing my finger at those who regularly vote on the right-side of the spectrum. Where, for example, were the black voters on election day 2010? We know where they were in 2008. Did they not think it important to get to the polls that day to vote against Kasich, Walker, Scott and Snyder?

    Low-information voters are a scourge on our democracy. And with more and more propaganda outlets, the situation will only deteriorate.

    1. Muddy wrote:
      “My blog is open not only to Sepp but to 4 others [right-of-center thinkers] who occasionally post their thoughts here too. It would be great if, as Rodney King famously quipped, we could all get along.

      Unfortunately we seemingly cannot all get along and, sadly, we have marched to our separate bunkers and have taken up defensive positions, armed with our semiautomatic word-blasters.”

      This IS YOUR BLOG, Muddy; you and only you decide what transpires here, independent of the approval or disapproval of anyone else.

      But I would respectfully disagree that Sepp lying about his military service, and based on that egregious lie, presumably about any number of other things, is in a very different category of conduct from political or ideological discussions or disagreements.

      I see those disagreements as the stepping off point for providing factual information to inform discussions. Sepp differs from other conservative voices in simply making shit up to promote himself, not to promote honest discussion.

      I have no problem whatsoever disagreeing (usually courteously and
      considerately) with someone who differs in their point of view. But I have no patience or tolerance for someone who fakes their military service to make themselves look credible. What Sepp did discredits anything else he has to say, in my opinion. To try to shift the blame to someone else for his lie, in this instance Laci, compounds the inexcusable. Again, with respect Muddy, I don’t believe you are advancing any kind of meeting of minds, or discussion of ideology and politics by tolerating that kind of lying. It is an insult to the rest of us who DO try to conduct ourselves better.

      It brings to mind the axiom that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. Are you seriously willing to give Sepp a pass, as if he did nothing wrong, for falsely claiming military service that he did not do? In your place, I would ban Sepp for a period of time – say a month or two – and make any return conditional on owning up that what he did was bad, and requiring an apology to all of us for it, including a very specific apology to Laci. And I would make the policy that if Sepp were caught lying again to promote himself, he’d be banned permanently.

      There is no basis for discussion if we do not require honesty as part of it.

      1. The problem is that sepp’s dishonesty probably doesn’t just end at military service, but also extends to his “success”. I have found that he is poorly informed and more than willing to lie to bolster his position. He refuses to admit that he has been caught lying as well–even when publically discredited. He happily comes back and repeats the same lie hoping that they will become true.

    2. The first time I posted here, I thought you all misunderstood Senate Bill 5. Seems I was the one who needed more understanding. I read the comments and had what Oprah would call an “ah-ha” moment. I don’t think you can fully understand an issue unless you see both sides. But sometimes it’s hard to see the other side when all you’re getting is nasty comments hurled at you. I really enjoy reading your blog and the educated comments. Thank you and thanks to all your commenters.

  8. Speaking of low-information voters, I received two comments from fundamentalist Christians, one assuring me of heading soon to my rightful place in Hell. Apparently both are also slow learners because their simultaneous comments were on my post from days ago, If It’s a Fake, Will they Still Believe? If you haven’t read it, the summary is this: recent computer analysis of the Bible indicates that there were at least 7 distinct authors of several of the same book[s] of that document, suggesting that god-became-man [men] a thousand years before Jesus.

    The obvious implication of this analysis is that, as many of us have already assumed, it was not written by a Deity, but rather by rabbis with a specific faith-agenda. Naturally, that finding upsets the fundamentalist Jews and Christians because it implies that their faith is essentially based on man-made ideas, thoughts and regulations. Poof! I suppose that is to be expected when a ‘foundation’ is built on shifting sands.

    The irony of it all is that the two people who commented are mad [as Hell] at me for bring the story to light. Kill the messenger! Yet, in the parallel universe in which they live, facts can ruin a perfectly good day. Sorry about that.

    1. Barb left an interesting reply to one of my posts about the Howard Goodall Show on Christmas carols. He may have mentioned something about Christianity being about helping those who were less fortunate. Of course, her attitude seems to be that only those who receive media attention are worthy of sympathy (e.g., Caylee Anthony), but the poor are not worthy of help. The poor obviously don’t have enough media sympathy.

      Personally, I prefer Barb to sepp since at least Barb is honest at seems to be far more in touch with reality, but that’s not saying too much. It’s hard to deal with someone as detached from reality as sepp has shown himself to be.

      The British austerity measures come in the form of 110 billion pounds ($177 billion) of spending cuts, tax increases over four years, and about 310,000 job cuts. Unfortunately, Taxes are a taboo in the US, unless they are of the regressive kind (sales & use taxes) where the burden falls far more heavily upon the poor.

      Yes, the US is low information. Despite the protestations of the US right, the US media (public broadcasting included) is pretty much biased toward the right. This is amusing since the right has done everything to starve public media of any funding that would eliminate corporate bias. The US Public Media might be a little more liberal than its more blatantly commercial counterparts, yet it will not do anything to offend its corporate underwriters. This produces very amusing results!

      You might find this site of interest:

  9. Let’s try to increase the “low information” of people with a Post on Social
    Security, since President Obama has put Social Security on the cutting

  10. Jeff- I really enjoy reading your blog and the educated comments. Thank you and thanks to all your commenters.

    You are very welcome and we enjoy your thoughts, too. There is soooo much anger in the blogosphere between the left and right that the middle ground has evaporated. I find very few blogs that attempt to see both sides of an issue. I hope that this blog can remain free enough to debate in a civil tone so that we can work together for the common good of this nation.

    1. Civility is important Muddy, but so is honesty, including intellectual honesty. It is not the abundance of anger that I find is contaminating our discourse, but the dishonesty. That is, in essence what Brooks was saying (see, I did tie it in to the original premise) when he wrote:
      “The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.

      The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

      The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor.

      The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor.

      But to members of this movement, tax levels are everything. Members of this tendency have taken a small piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation. They are willing to cut education and research to preserve tax expenditures. Manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises, but members of this movement somehow believe such problems can be addressed so long as they continue to worship their idol.”

      Brooks is saying that the Republicans have embraced a false ideology over rationality, and over reality, that they deny what is real, that they deny anything that they don’t like or that doesn’t fit their ‘fixation’. THAT is dishonest, that is distortion and in some cases, outright and deliberate lying.

      We can survive a bit of incivility in discussion, and still accomplish a meeting of the minds. We cannot do so with dishonesty, intellectual, or worse, anti-intellectual dishonesty, dishonesty which ignores or subverts facts. Facts are not fungible.

      It doesn’t matter if that dishonesty is for a political gain, or a personal promotion; it destroys any trust, it destroys any respect, it destroys any reasoned or reasonable discourse. THAT, Muddy, is why I voiced such an objection to what Sepp did.

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