Saturday, July 11, 2009


posted by Armadillo Joe

I've figured out what really pisses me off about the whole Steve King slaves-aren't-significant-to-American-history episode.

He's from Iowa. Iowa fought for Union. Iowa was never a slave state. So why is he making common cause with a bunch of Dixie-fied Civil War re-enactors? I know why. It goes to my larger thesis about the Dixie-fication of America.

When Nixon used the Southern Strategy (actually hatched during the Goldwater campaign) to bring former Dixiecrats into the GOP fold, he welded the definition of "conservative" to that of the word "southern" and, forever after in American life, conservatism as it is popularly understood has a distinctly southern flavor. I offer the coast-to-coast appeal of Jeff Foxworthy's "redneck" jokes as just one piece of evidence.

And though what I'm sure they all thought was a sure bet for electoral success ad infinitum could have worked if calibrated properly and tended to with loving care, the Republican Party is now imploding into a minor regional party because the overlords, in order to garner allies in their generational class war, thought they could harness the inchoate fears in the lower classes of nigras, uppity wimmin-folk, queers and other assorted dirty fucking hippies. The monsters refused to be yoked to the narrow ambitions of the Ruling Class and have now overrun HQ. The result? An ever more tightly wound black-hole of hate, self-serving mythology and historical revisionism that pulls in anything in its gravitational field, including Steve King of Iowa, a state that fought for Union.

This is what "conservatism" and the GOP look like at the tail-end of the Southern Strategy. I have a whole new view of the overall arc of "The Movement" since WW2 because of Rick Pearlstein's "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus." The fact that McCain went down in flames to a man unimaginable as president within the living memory of most Americans makes a neat historical bookend to the fact that Goldwater -- and, more specifically, the Goldwater campaign -- launched the modern Republican Party by inviting in the racist yokels, toothless goobers and paranoid rednecks to their party who had once been beyond the pale of polite society and then ruthlessly organized them into an orc army with the help of modern technology and mountains of private and corporate cash. Prior to Goldwater, conservatives were split regionally and culturally between the two political parties. Between Goldwater and Reagan, they united under the Republican "brand."

However, I don't believe the GOP will be able to pull out of its current death-spiral. GOP resurgences since Goldwater's implosion in '64 have happened because "The Movement" was still gathering steam: Nixon resigned and Ford was weak, but Reagan overran a clueless Jimmy Carter; a vacillating Bush41 lost in a three-way split, but the post-Reagan GOP caucus in Congress (and a Supreme Court with no less than four Reagan-appointed justices -- including O'Connor from Arizona and Chief Justice Rehnquist also from Arizona who had been on Goldwater's legal team) had redrawn the political map enough to get Bush43 in office.

But Reagan, Gingrich's Congress and the impeachment of a popular president for a blowjob were the apex of their power. I think they've been coasting on inertia ever since because they don't know what to do. Since Goldwater, the right (and eventually the whole of the GOP) had always defined itself in opposition to things. Once they were put fully in charge, they proved utterly clueless. Were it not for the adrenaline-boost of 9/11, they may have even imploded before Bush's second term. He may not have even had one.

The GOP and conservatism have fallen a long, long, long way -- farther even than they had stood in the late 1950's when some on the American right-wing were accusing Republican President Eisenhower of being a communist sympathizer, before Goldwater twisted the party into an ugly enough horde to actually place a diseased cur like Dick Nixon on their ticket. The last time the American right was laid this low was in the early days of FDR and the Great Depression. It took 30 years and the Senator from Arizona to galvanize them back into an effective movement, even if the whole edifice was built under false pretenses and group delusion.

This time, though, I don't see how they can get back up again. I really don't.

And that is a good thing.


Fraulein said...

Oh man -- I certainly hope so. From your lips to God's ears!

NowhereMan said...

If the recession is doesn't improve by 2010 the GOP mantra will blame "obama's liberal policies"and the conservatives will have a revival. Thats why its so important to pass a strong health care public option.
When Clinton tried to reform health care,Bill Kristol told Gnewt if this passes we are finished!