Friday, November 6, 2009

The Soul of the Party?

Many people have described what took place in the 23rd district of New York congressional race as an internal struggle within the Republican Party as an internal struggle for the soul of the Republican Party. I find this analogy difficult to accept and understand because how can you fight for something that doesn’t exist? To say the Republicans are fighting over their soul is akin to saying the Civil War was a fight for the soul of America, while poetically it sounds good the truth is somewhat less pleasant. The Civil War was not about the soul of America, it was about the viability of a nation and its dependence on a corrupt regional power structure. What happened in New York was not about the soul of the Republican Party, it was about the viability of a national party and its reliance on a corrupt regional power base.

What we saw happen in New York and what I predict we will see more of in the coming months is the beginning of a third party. If you notice who the main players were in this debacle it is not hard to understand why they would want to see a third party launched. These are the unrepentant right wing neo-cons who believe that the lesson from the last two elections was that the Republicans were not far enough to the right. They continue to cling to the false mantra of Karl Rove that America is a right of center nation. These are the unapologetic neo-con architects of some of the worst policies in American history and believe that it wasn’t their policies that Americans soundly rejected, but the packaging. They are tin-eared musicians who cannot understand the tune that the American public is playing and so they have crafted a strategy that while it may be personally gratifying and enriching to some of their wallets will not translate into any electoral majority.

If these clowns were not so out of touch they would recognize that the voices they are hearing are not pushing to the right or to the left, those are just the loudest voices. The real voice of change that many in Washington, in Alaska, and in other parts of the establishment circles are failing to interpret is not about party affiliation or cultural warfare. The voice of change taking place in local communities is about watching this nation become a second rate empire and there is a feeling of helplessness on the part of many people. They are watching the wealthy plunder this country without any regard for those in the middle who have been the creators of wealth in this nation. They are watching the vice slowly squeeze them from both ends with mounting debt created by a capital system that socializes risk but privatizes profits and an ever increasing social burden for those who are becoming obsolete in this society. They look into the eyes of their kids and for once they cannot say with any conviction, “That your life will be better than mine.”

The problem with trying to harness the voice of change of this magnitude is that it is easy to misread it. The reason that it is so easy to misread it is because it has not crystallized into a single rational voice. Currently there is just this dissonant cry of anguish that is being misdirected down many incongruent and disconnected paths. What we are witnessing is in the face of unknown fear many people are finding comfort in the ghosts and bogeymen of the past, but these are not the majority of voices again they are just the loudest. The majority are sitting quietly in front of their televisions hoping, praying, and waiting for someone, anyone to hear their silent screams and rescue them and their children from the coming apocalypse. What happened in New York was a group of out of touch and disconnected frauds who tried to stage a coup and at the same time launch their third party strategy. But of course because they were not close enough to the action they completely misread the situation and went down in defeat. You can’t be grassroots and not mow some yards. This thing is not about ideology and moral victories on either side, it is about can we prevent the Armageddon that so many are so hell-bent on bringing about?

Let us be clear; there is no soul-searching taking place in the Republican Party. What we have is a group of political hacks who are trying to exploit the fear and uncertainty of some people for their short-term political and economic gain. As this process moves forward it is important not to discount what lies beneath the upheaval which is genuine fear and concern on the part of many well meaning folks and anyone who dismisses this will do so at their own peril. It is important that progressives also realize that many of these voices for change don’t even know what they are looking for so to assume that it is the progressive agenda will be as harmful as the wing-nuts assuming it is in support of their agendas. Right now what we have is this giant blob that is searching for a shape or a form to take and whoever can articulate its goals and direct it will be successful while others will fail. The key in uncertain times like these is to do the right thing for the country regardless of how popular or politically correct it is because in the end that will be the final judge-did it work?

Oh by the way if the Republicans are looking for a soul I understand they can be had pretty cheaply these days on Wall Street and with some insurance carriers it is not considered a pre-existing condition to be without one.

I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of. - Michel de Montaigne

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