Laura Rozen muses:
I know some see this election as representing the shift into a new era of Democratic ascendance. My own unacademic sense is that the right won’t be out of power very long, that human nature itself will make an opposition party viable sooner than many think. The economy will hopefully recover in a year or two. The people who think gov’t should do less and more will still be here. The people who respond to demagoguery of various sorts will still be here. The people who want less immigration, etc. But the Republicans look to be having a very bad election this time and why I think there’s likely to be more of a psychic tipping point this moment for conservatives is because they’ve had power now for a while and it’s very hard to face the prospect of giving that up. Especially when there seems to be a big element of fear on their part too that some of the right exercised their power so divisively, and there could be a kind of retribution against them. At the end of the Clinton era, and I was largely out of the country during those years and was not paying close attention, but I don’t remember Democrats being afraid for political revenge from the Republicans when the White House changed hands. But there seems to be an element now on the right of essentially fear, fear for themselves masquerading as anti-Obama hysteria, that thinks maybe they went too far when they had power and it’s going to be awful if and when they don’t. I mean, really, read some of [The Cornhole], and there’s truly an hysterical quality to some of the stuff.
I don’t know about “divisively” – “illegally” and “immorally” are two categories we’ll need to work through before we come to the key issue of salving partisan butthurt. And I have no doubt that the very same people who are working feverishly to prove that Wavy Gravy once changed the infant Obama’s nappies will soon be telling us that the Bush administration is “old news” and why would you want to dredge that up again? But there’s certainly a Shadow over Wingnuttia these days. What can it portend?
Rozen is right when she says that the Republicans will rise again, and sooner rather than later. The “winner-take-all” format of American elections basically ensures a two-party system at the national level, and it takes more than one election to break up the partisan structure. The unspoken assumption, however – that the ideological configuration of the parties will remain unchanged – is not correct, I think, and it’s this consideration which concerns the wingnuts, and is causing them to break out the old Vince-Foster-wuz-murdered-by-black-helicopters playbook.
Now, ascribing any coherent “ideology” to the douchebags who run The Cornhole is hard, as they have shown tremendous flexibility when it comes to cheerleading powerful Republicans and booing their enemies. But these are just courtiers, and their job is not to think, it is to praise Master to the yahoos, so Master doesn’t have to do it himself. Dick Cheney has ideology; Tom DeLay had an ideology; George W. Bush – if he’s still alive – has an ideology; the power brokers of the religious Right have an ideology. This ideology was given free expression during the Bush years, and it has failed catastrophically, leading to the current Republican crisis. Whoever leads the Republican party in the post-Bush era will have an ideology, too, and it will probably have to be one which repudiates the Bush-Republican ideology – if only for the sake of political expediency.
If you have made a good living praising Bushism – and if you have no marketable skills aside from being able to identify different brands of shoe polish by taste and knowing every synonym for “traitor” – this could be very, bad news. You may think that people who pull a steady paycheck cranking out propaganda are immune to the economic uncertainty felt by people with real jobs these days, but I’m sure they feel it too, if for slightly different reasons. Jumping overboard now might land you a position somewhere, but it requires abandoning everything you’ve worked for and exposes you to the other end of the puke funnel. Hanging tough may be a safer bet, but there are countless examples of wingnuts who couldn’t change with the time, and now have to scrape by at less prestigious publications. *Shudder* The stakes being what they are, it makes sense to try to pre-emptively declare the coming judgment invalid, while telling yourself soothing stories from the Big Book of Bircher Fairy Tales, now in its billionth printing.