Jan 27, 2013

January 27, 2013: The Politics of Open Contempt, Legacy of George McGovern, Sucking the Dregs

Today, on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Congressman Paul Ryan, otherwise known as the Eddie Munster of American Politics, took the stand to testify that newly minted President Obama in his inaugural address did not properly pay obeisance to their conservative agenda.  Indeed the Scums have, since the days of Bill Clinton, behaved as if it is the responsibility of the opposition to adopt in part, if not in whole, the Rescumlican position or earn the wrath of the conservative-entertainment complex and be thereby savaged from pillar to post.  The contempt, as befits “true believers”,  has manifested itself not only by the “birther” and “deather” movements but by referring to the President as Rush Limbaugh so poignantly put it as “in over his head”.  John Sunnunu, former Rescumlican governor of New Hampshire and White House Chief of staff, emerged last year as a chief spokesman for Mitt Romney calling the President “Lazy”.  Newt Gingrich has called Obama the “Food-Stamp President”.  So bad has it become that the Speaker of the House, John Boner, has declined White House invitations to six state dinners, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Rescumlican Kentucky)  has even declined invitation to a White House function to honor the NCAA National Champion University of Kentucky basketball team. 

It’s become so bad that the Scums have withdrawn support for their own proposals—tax cuts on small businesses for instance—if the White House comes across the isle and supports them.  Gridlock has descended upon Washington and it looks like at least two more years of it.

Much is being said in the national media about how the well has been poisoned and that it is due to the partisan rancor that plagues the land.  This is true, but only in part, but in any case we must remember that the people voted for it.

As discussed in previous posts, the great partisan divide, as wide as anything seen in my lifetime, certainly as divisive as anything seen since the Teddy Roosevelt led the “Bull Moosers” out of the Republican party a century ago, or perhaps since the civil war, has many causes.  First there is the fact that the middle class now controls less of the national economy since the 1920’s and is declining.  As outlined in previous posts this bifurcation of the economic strata leads to a polarization of politics.  Secondly, with the deregulation of the communications industry and the abandonment of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” in which political expression on the nation’s or in political advertising required equal access to opposing points of view.  The result is that the airwaves have been taken over by a group of howlers and hate-merchants peddling paranoia and conspiracy in order to hype ratings and sell more soap.  The result has been the creation of the conservative-entertainment complex in which , as President Obama said so eloquently in his Inaugural Address, name-calling has taken the place of reasoned discourse.

On this note let us take a moment and note the passing of former South Dakota Senator George McGovern.  Senator McGovern passed away late last year and it is time to pay tribute to an honorable man, a courageous man, who though afraid of heights forced himself to become an aircraft pilot during the second world war and flew many bombing missions over German controlled territory.  Here was a warrior who honorably served his country and rose to oppose another war in another time and place.  His eloquence in opposition to the madness that was Viet Nam inspired a generation and for that he should be remembered.
Following the chaos that was the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the party chose Senator McGovern to head a committee to rewrite the party rules to insure that the party became as close as a mirror-image of America as was organizationally possible.  Accordingly if a local party elected a man to chair it, a woman would have to be chosen vice-chair and vice-versa.  Delegates to state and national conventions had to be chosen so that all groups, were represented proportionately.  Witness to these changes can be seen in the present national conventions in which the Democrats present themselves as the polyglot aggregate of the American “melting-pot”, whereas the Rescumlicans appear the party of angry old white men.
But there were other changes whose effect on the national polity are far more problematic.  The explosion of Presidential Primaries and Caucuses have indeed taken the selection of Presidential candidates out of the hands of the political “bosses” in their “smoke-filled rooms”, but it has given the process over to the political interest groups and the “one interest” voters, in low-turnout elections.  The result is that the tail now wags the dog, small vocal groups, organized around single issues with committed following and money can now challenge long established fixtures on the national scene and remove them from office.  Senator Richard Lugar, a 4 term senator once considered a Vice Presidential possibility and long chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was summarily dismissed by the voters of Indiana in a low turnout Rescumlican primary.   Similarly Senator Saxbee Chambliss (Resumlican GA) has announced that he will not seek another term.  A name being floated to replace him is none other than  Paul Broun, the political Neanderthal hailing from Athens Georgia.  We suck ever deeper the dregs of the barrel.  

My point is that we have not seen the last of the Boomers influence of the Republic.  As Senator McGovern wryly observed some 30 years ago “I opened the door (to the Democratic Party) and three million people ran out.  

It never occurred to the followers of George McGovern that in the wake of the party reforms the Dems suffered more than a landslide loss to Richard Nixon.  Other, more systemic and structural, damage was done to the Democratic Party and its ability to defend the American Middle Class.  Re-reading Teddy White’s  “The Making of the President 1972”  brought home the point.  I remember my class mates savaging the work when it came out, but his criticisms still stand.  The  McGovern reforms had succeeded in changing both the means of gaining representation within the Democratic Party but in so doing it also changed the nature of the party—particularly in the state and national organization.  1972 stands as a symbol of what went so terribly wrong.  New faces meant the removal of old.  It wasn’t that the new faces were mixed with the old, for in 1972 organized labor—the backbone of the old “New Deal” coalition—were, by the reforms, asked to leave the table.  Accordingly, by the fall of 1972 George Meany, President of the AFL-CIO, joined the Teamsters and other in support of Rescumlican Richard Nixon.  The war on the middle class had begun.  
 In the end even the Boomer’s, Hunter S. Thomspon and “Rolling Stone” magazine notwithstanding,  couldn’t stomach it casting the first vote of their newly-minted majority for that old scoundrel from Whittier.

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