Very Strange Bedfellows

A new YouGov/Economist poll found that in July 2014, Republicans had a -66 net favorability view of Putin. As of this month, that number had surged upward by 56 points to just -10. Democrats’ favorability of Putin, not surprisingly, went in the opposite direction. There was no improvement in our relationship with Russia between 2014 and now. In fact, Putin has taken an increasingly more hard-line position toward the US since Obama took office, and, has become more authoritarian at home, stepped up his support for Assad, annexed Crimea, and, in general, has been more confrontational with his closest neighbors.

What has happened within that time frame, though, had been Trump’s candidacy and subsequent win. That’s pretty much it – our Russian relations hadn’t moved much in any consequential direction. So, if it isn’t just unquestioning, blind allegiance to our President-elect – who’s only observable foreign policy regarding Vladimir Putin’s Russia comes as shot-from-the-hip Tweets followed by endless streams of conflicting clarifications – what changed the hearts and minds of the once dyed-in-the-wool Russo-skeptic political party that, even to this day, is so rock-solid in their opposition to Obama’s Russian Reset, that they view the former KGB, foreign strongman half of the undisguised Trump/Putin bromance – caginess and all – more favorably than our own twice, majority elected American president?

If things don’t already suck enough.

In the latest edition of the Indy Week, Paul Blest gloomily cautions that in addition to the trifecta won by the Republicans at the federal level, they also own two-thirds of governorships and nearly two-thirds of state legislatures — only one state legislature shy of a constitutional convention. That would mean unfettered passage of “right-to-life” and “balanced-buget” amendments among other gut wrenching planks in the extreme right-wing platform.

Just some barely digestible food for thought. The mid-term election is just two years away. Tick tock.

We listened. We just couldn’t hear anything.

2016-election-county-mapOur ears were perked, since years ago when the threat to progressivism by the growing conservative/religious-right movement took more and more ominous shape. But as that ideology caught on with the Jacksonian minded rural-white folk, so too did the cottage industry of conservative media grow into the bubble that ultimately dimmed their fear driven voices to the outside world to a barely perceptible buzz-like noise akin to the vibration from a distant soundproof room.
Nothing diplomatic we tried could penetrate it, and, nothing got out but for the ever intensifying sonar-like pings of nationalism, hatred and bigotry that attracted instigating MSM ratings whores like moths to glowing flame.
How much shit did we take from our petulant children before giving way to our disgust? And now — especially in this new PC-be-damned world we find ourselves in — we’re supposed shame ourselves into taking responsibility for Trump’s win because we had a bad, elitist attitude?

No worries “Peace Candidate” voters, we’ll leave the light on for you.

donaldtrumpfinger-1I would imagine that except for only a relatively small slice of those Democrats, who, out of disgust over Hillary’s negatives, DNC malfeasance and Bernie’s primary loss, voted their “conscience” for Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, must be just as shocked and dismayed by the outcome as those of us who held our noses and voted our “pragmatism” for the best qualified of the two most despised presidential candidates in our nation’s history.

The causes of this major set back for progressivism – for a generation, at least – will be studied for years to come. However, the loss by the Democratic Party of the rural-white working class looms the largest of all of the post-election punditry, and, once the battle over the new DNC leadership is won, there are only two years until the mid-term elections for a united front to gain back even the slightest bit of ground.

While the cause and effect of how we on the left got to this place is deserving of debate, and, the lessons learned never forgotten, the reality is that we are now faced with a GOP governing trifecta, led by a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynistic, anti-semitic, alt-right legitimizing despot empowered only by Electoral College vote, whose Christian Taliban VP pick is firmly entrenched in the whiter than white bread fraternity of the 97% of House and 90% of Senate incumbents returning to DC for the 115th Congress (with a self-proclaimed mandate by the current House Speaker, no less), and, whose cabinet is shaping up as a rogues gallery of denizens from the very swamp he promised his dupes he’d drain.

So, in light of the daunting task ahead of the progressive movement, I’m left wondering if the throngs of still registered Democrats and defectors who threw their support behind Stein in protest, are going to hang on to the impossible dream of building the Green Party from grassroots to national prominence entirely within the span of two or even four years – the Green’s currently hold only around 137 elected offices nationwide, none in Congress, no sitting governors and Stein won a paltry 1% of the popular vote (far short of the 5% needed for national recognition and federal funding for 2020) – or, if they’re going to snap out of it and come back home and rally around the new blood running the party that’s already there.

If it walks like fascism, and quacks like fascism…

For months, I had been struggling to adequately articulate my hypothesis that the unprecedented insidiousness thrust upon us by the extremist elements of the Republican Party transcends even the popular narrative of it’s “hijacking” by the menacing Tea Party.

There is plenty of content across the Intertubes about the Tea Party. ‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third-party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party”, and, Study: Tea Party Organizations Have Ties To Tobacco Industry Dating Back To 1980s, were of particular interest to me. I had been under the impression that the movement spontaneously grew out of opposition to the bailout of the U.S. financial system and automakers at the close of the Bush presidency, subjugated early in President Obama’s first term by corporate astroturfing.

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Why do working class and rural Republicans vote against their own interests?

Many of us from the left unblinkingly characterize working class and rural Republicans as narrow-minded dupes tricked into voting against their own economic interests. When we do, however, we tend to dismiss the near primal allure of the broader moral sensitivities inherent to the conservative foundation of their party.

A Student News Daily article offers a concise delineation of Conservative vs. Liberal Beliefs:

Liberals believe in government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. It is the duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights. Believe the role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need. Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.

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