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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Critique of Pure Unreason: The Republican Election Failure in its Own Words

A Critique of Pure Unreason: The Republican Election Failure in its Own Words

Sorry to see this election cycle come to a close? Hungry for one last fix? Then let’s saddle up for a ride into the valley of post-mortem analysis.

My right-wing friends and every conservative columnist of note had called for a Romney landslide in complete opposition to what the polls were saying. I didn’t think these opinions were sustainable on a carbon-based planet, but couldn’t shake that disquieted feeling that maybe they were right. Maybe, as they said, we were deluded, our brains weakened by dependence on the state for every breath and mouthful we take.

That’s why, like most, I found the quick calling of the election both surprising and yet still worrying. Like a lot of Democrats, I still recall that the moment the 2000 election was called for Al Gore a furious Karl Rove and the Bush team made calls to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Registrar Katherine Harris ordering them to reverse the state’s announcement of a Gore win by any means necessary. Meanwhile, a mob of Republican operatives (which the news media called “outraged citizens”) from Miami-Dade County stormed the precinct and prevented any further vote-counting. We know how that turned out.

Revolutionary Commander Rove indeed made a sputtering, apoplectic appearance on Fox News when they joined the other networks in calling the election. Ohio would surprise, he insisted. Ohio would open the path for a Romney victory. And (we now know) Romney aides and lawyers were preparing to fly to various states, many with Republican governors like Jeb Bush, and to contest the results. But as state after swing state continued to show a persistent blue tint with urban centers still to report, the fear faded. Rove was shunted off the air—at Fox!

The morning after, like any fan of a winning team that has just won the big contest, I visited my own favorite media and websites first. But it wasn’t enough. So I visited the Facebook pages of my conservative friends, I suppose to gloat. There I found out just what they (and their like-minded friends who commented) thought of us Obama voters. Republicans on FB tend to vent without hesitation in ways that I would think twice about, if only because of what some future employer or troll might dredge up, or Drudge up, about me.

Not conservatives. It seems to me that they vent unedited because they think they are of the owner class, and that all owners think like them (indeed, how could they not?) and, by corollary, it doesn’t matter that we others read what they think of us--because we are employees, serfs, or worse, welfare queens. Who cares what we think? We in the gimme-gimme class are born of ignorance and venality (that is to say, of single Democratic mothers). Our main purpose in life is to serve Them and, at supper time, to sit on the floor beneath the table keeping our mouths open for any crumbs. And not to forget to say, “Thank you, sire!”

After awhile I wearied of lurking on my friends’ pages and ventured off into the conservative media. The Wall Street Journal was too bland, having already figured out that this Romney chap didn’t have the right stuff—on election morning they actually ran a front-page piece entitled “The World Will Not End...” You can bet it won’t, not until the stock exchange fails to open.

The National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley, raised my hopes. We took it at home when I was a kid, and I read it cover to cover. Today I read it for what I do not know, but I was done gloating. I wanted a sense of this group of Americans so divorced from reality. As I scanned the lead articles and editor’s note I found a surprising concurrence of opinion, and even more surprising, an acceptance that they’d gone off the tracks somehow. The GOP had not run a reality-based campaign, but they weren’t shirking from the corpse on the table.

I was reassured. Wishing didn’t make it so: The NR now accepted this. They accepted the demographics of the vote. They concluded that they had to broaden the party and widen its base by rethinking some of their more extreme and off-putting positions. On the whole, I like my country to be rational.

But in the comments on these articles the true divide in the Republican Party surfaced. While there were many who accepted the blame for defeat on behalf of the more virulent social conservatives and Tea Party fanatics, the latter, however, did not accept at all that they shared any blame. No, the problem was, the party and Romney had veered too far Left-Center. If there was any blame, it attached to the American people.

So what kind of people are we, in the eyes of the Right? The following are cherry-picked from the comments page of the NR. In order of appearance, most recent first:

The GOP? We have nothing to offer barbarians and prostitutes and keep our standards.
The only solution maybe in moving to states like Oklahoma, becoming new Pilgrims, escaping tyranny.
Nobody has the courage to call last night what it really was.... a coup-de-etat.
No one is listening. Too many voters are venal, corrupt, or imbeciles. All the institutions that control information flows are run by Leftists. The schools turn out whole generations whose mental filters and vocabularies, if not attitudes, are Leftist.
It is a fact that Democrats appeal to the worst in people (greed, envy, sloth, etc.) while we have to appeal to the best (independence and self-reliance, plus an unwillingness to steal what our neighbors produce).
This is Zimbabwe. Just for your information, the Chinese believe that America will become a failed state. Not so long ago, a Russian author stated in an article that America will disintegrate!
Sad fact is that the deviants have taken over America. Yup, you heard me right. The social issues and fiscal issues are all tied up together. Deviants want to steal ... so they take my money for food stamps they don't need. Deviants want to destroy religion ... so they force religious institutions to fund abortion.

Deviants want all the sex they can have, with anyone they want, with not only no consequences, but also the approbation of the state. Thus, they push for free birth control, abortion on demand and gay marriage.

Deviants want to get high and feel no pain, again with no consequences. So they push for legalizing not only marijuana, but hard drugs.

Deviants want to lay around and be entertained by the idiot box. They want to collect a check for existing, while spending my hard-earned tax dollars on Nikes and fake nails. All the while, demonizing small business owners like me for earning something that they don't have.

Deviance is destroying America.
.......spiking all things Governor Palin is what got Mitt in the LOSERS SEAT!
Message to Bibi Netanyahu, ALWAYS bet on Black...

The last comment, and the one about Zimbabwe, were the only ones to dwell on President Obama’s race in a way I found disgraceful. Many dwelt on the racial and gender composition of his support—nothing wrong with that. I would’ve extended an olive branch to the Right readers of the NR for their restraint after a four-year campaign of daily race-coded jocularity, except that I noticed a couple of commentators complained of the NR censors. Uh-huh. Somebody has to keep the brand clean for the next go-round.

So in the end, besides the tendency to believe in our home team, what was really up with the months of loudly proclaimed delusion? I believe I found the answer in the example of Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter who likes to appear to be the voice of reason, above the common fray, full of patrician benevolence until she goes for the jugular.

Noonan lost it this election cycle. Something about Obama, whom she greeted in a gracious column at his inaugural, fried her circuits. Maybe it was the way Democrats found Reagan so infuriating—remember the “Teflon President”? Maybe she just felt that after four years he was now safe to attack by any means necessary. But she lost control of her tone in several columns. She went on about his skin color, his personality, alleging the sorts of twitches and tics we associate with a nervous breakdown. Not very Peggy of you, Noonan! Maybe she’d heard criticism on the Right that she’d fallen for The Anointed One, as so many conservatives love to call Obama.

Anyway, her column the day before the election was a pure draft of delusion, wrapped in the kind of aspirational rhetoric you hear in catechism class: dreamy piety, angels singing, martyrs ascending. A big-hearted gift to the Mormon candidate, squaring him with the Catholic vote, if there still is such a thing. (There wasn’t—they went 50% for Obama.)

Think I’m overwriting? Here’s Noonan on Mitt in his last days: "In some new way he’s caught his stride. He looks happy and grateful. His closing speech has been positive, future-looking, sweetly patriotic. His closing ads are sharp—the one about what’s going on at the rallies is moving. All the vibrations are right."

“Vibrations”? You got to love that groovy turn of phrase from the squarest lady in town. But she knows you have to speak the language of the new generation to win their hearts and minds. She does it with a wink, though.

For the religious voters, evangelicals included, she speaks in a different tongue: "...what’s happening with them is quiet, unreported and spreading: They really want Romney now, they’ll go out and vote, the election has taken on a new importance to them. There is no denying the Republicans have the passion now, the enthusiasm. The Democrats do not."

Yes, and all good Republicans go to heaven. But that’s not all. It’s a secret among the faithful that while the Democrats worship the Golden Calf, the guy with the tablets is on his way down the mountain. As Noonan says, again in the language of pure faith and hence, unreason: "Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us."

Keep your eyes on God and heaven, children. She echoes the language of the Middle Ages, when the strategy of the Church was to keep the lower orders illiterate and unconnected to their fate, focused instead on the eternal life. Which is the language of Romney the private equity capitalist is you swap in “money” for “god”: Money is eternal, honoring Money (and Markets, the churches of Money) is the path, and there are no worries, mate, about your share of the Money as long as you let Mitt and his Disciples run the show. Just don’t question your lot. That’s class warfare. And Noonan and the upper classes really dislike that phrase. It tends to rile the servants.

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