Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The big defeat

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks has been saying since at least 2008 that “the big defeat is coming.” That is to say, he’s predicting that in the very near future the Republican Party, if it remains on its present course and committed to right-wing plutocratic principles, is eventually going to be crushed at the polls. I agree with him.

Brooks had enjoyed a long career in conservative journalism, writing for all of the major publications, but noted that year in an in interview in the New Yorker that the movement as a whole hasn’t accepted the reality that its unyielding stances could cost the party elections down the road because of its own bullheadedness (which is why he left the right).

Here’s why Brooks is right: In my own decades-long observation of the movement, I’ve noticed that it operates according to what psychologists call a “closed” information system – that is, if the facts or history don’t support the narrative they’re discarded. And that’s simply dangerous.

You can tell that by just how its acolytes reacted to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s respective ascensions to the White House. To this day they insist that both men, especially Obama since he’s there now, are hopelessly corrupt and managed to hoodwink to public into voting for them as opposed to their preferred candidate; some have even said that they would suspend the Constitution to remain in power beyond their allotted two terms.

Thing is, not only does that kind of hysteria turn people off but also the policies they espouse don’t work – and, I would say, aren’t necessarily even supposed to work. In other words, these days a lot of people are voting against them for legitimate reasons, but you’re not supposed to say that on pain of offense.

Hillary Clinton is a key here, of course; if she decides to seek the presidency she can not only win nationwide but in the process split the South, much of which has been considered untouchable for Democrats since the 1970s. The conservatives get this, which is why they’ve been trying to preempt her by bringing up Benghazi and Monicagate in the hope that people will turn against her. But when you’re reduced to sliming a political opponent preemptively you must not have that much to offer in your own right.

I think Brooks sees this and is troubled because he understands that his party is about to drive itself off a cliff. Maybe in 2016 or even later – but it will happen.

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