Continuing the Survivor metaphor from the last post — Herman Cain just voted himself off the island.
Although it’s possible he believes he has a shot at the nomination, my suspicions are that Jon Huntsman’s ambitions aren’t so much about the White House as about the future direction of the Republican Party.
The GOP pendulum may have swung about as far as it can swing on the crazy/not crazy scale. Its descent into clown show lunacy reached new depths this week at the news that Donald Trump would moderate a GOP debate. Truly, the next step down would have been to sign the candidates up as contestants on Survivor: South Pacific. (Or even better, Survivor: The Bronx. Turn ’em loose at the Grand Concourse with no cars, cell phones, cash, IDs or credit cards. I’d watch.) Of course, they could still opt to skip the debates and just slug it out in a virtual gladiator game.
The GOP establishment is probably hoping against hope they can keep the nomination up in the air long enough to pick Anybody Else in a brokered convention. I can’t think of anyone the establishment would choose who would be an improvement, though. Their idea of a great candidate is Haley Barbour.
Anyway — Nothing remains static for long, The only way the Republican Party can sustain itself on its current trajectory would be a complete takeover of government by K Street and the .01 percent — some would argue this has already happened — followed by a general clamping down of all civil and voter rights — we’re well on the way there, too. That way the Galatian Overlords can rule openly, with impunity, and not even have to go through the motions of winning public favor. And then they would have no more need for the clowns.
I’m speculating that Huntsman thinks the Republican Party has got to start clawing its way back to sanity, sooner or later, and he’s positioning himself to take a leadership role in that process. And I wish him sincere good luck with that.
Meanwhile, mistermix writes,
As Benen and others point out, white lower-middle class males are not a monolithic block, and plenty of them can separate rhetoric from the economic realities of their situation. No Democrat has been trying to replace Medicare with a voucher or invest their Social Security in the stock market, and lots of lower-middle class white males know that. But what about the othersâ€”those who will vote for Republican against their economic interests to further some other ill-defined interest? What even motivates these voters?
A social theorist, or a think tank researcher, would have a number of explanations centering around tribalism, false consciousness and perhaps a wee bit of racism. I donâ€™t have any of those credentials, so Iâ€™ve got no theories, but I do get the distinct impression that chasing after any group of voters whose main motivation is essentially irrational is a pointless exercise if thereâ€™s any alternative.
I learned a long time ago that you cannot appease crazy people with rationality. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to deal with someone who is genuinely mis-wired — someone in the workplace or your family, so you couldn’t just walk away — you learne that the only way to interact with them is to meet them somewhere in Crazyland.
For example, if your Aunt believes she is Queen Elizabeth I, and you want her to climb down off the roof, you will probably resort to telling her that Sir Walter Raleigh has arrived and requests an audience. And really, it’s no different with somebody who is neurotic or paranoid or psychopathic; you don’t deal with the person, you interface with the pathology.
So some years ago the GOP decided the cheap and easy way to dominate politics was to cultivate crazy and appeal to worst instincts. So now they’re locked into campaigning in Crazyland, because that’s where their base is. And the result is that their nomination process has turned into a clown show.
And it really isn’t sustainable. I’m not saying the GOP will implode next week; there’s enough money behind it to keep it on life support for a long time. As a political front for special interests, some parts of it probably will keep going for many years, no matter what. But it also wouldn’t surprise me to see it make some kind of massive shift, eventually; either to break apart or to rebuild itself as a serious political party.