Every Sunday morning and afternoon, I like to spend a few hours plunging deeply into Arts & Letters Daily. It's a great resource of articles about wonderful things that delight the mind, ranging from musicology to intellectual biography. Think of it as RealClearPolitics without the Republican editorial position: they skim the various academic journals, newspapers, blogs, etc. to find the most interesting materials pertaining to the humanities and fine arts. I've found several new magazines, journals and blogs to read by reading it, and I'd recommend it to anyone. Anyway, earlier today, I was reading along, and I came across an article from Commonweal Magazine describing the resurgence of religion as a phenomenon in the world, and I came across the best description of Republicans that I have ever come across:
Assured since the fall of the Soviet bloc that it could proceed with impunity to pursue its own global interests, the West overreached itself. Just when ideologies in general seemed to have packed up for good, the United States put them back on the agenda in the form of a peculiarly poisonous brand of neoconservatism. Like characters in some second-rate piece of science fiction, a small cabal of fanatical dogmatists occupied the White House and proceeded to execute their well-laid plans for world sovereignty. It was almost as bizarre as Scientologists taking over 10 Downing Street, or Da Vinci Code buffs patrolling the corridors of the Elysée Palace. The much-trumpeted Death of History, meaning that capitalism was now the only game in town, reflected the arrogance of the West’s project of global domination; and that aggressive project triggered a backlash in the form of radical Islam. [Emboldened by Dheeraj Chand]
I'm going to return to this at some other point (yeah, right), but I think that the most important thing about this description is not the fact that Republicans are crazy ideologues who can find any way to justify any thing that they do at any time (When Clinton was President, The Speaker of The House should have been more powerful. When Bush was President, The Speaker of The House had an obligation to pass the President's agenda. When Clinton was President, a war to defend ethnic minorities in the Balkans was unjustifiable. When Bush was President, any war, at any time, is the prototype of a just war. I can find a million more.), but the fact that they are finally being perceived by the population of the world as not the leaders of the other party, with a completely coherent and reasonable worldview, but as a completely insane group of cultists.
Given the ever declining numbers of people who identify as Republicans, this is entirely true. Anyone who still identifies as a Republican falls into one of the following categories:
- He wears his party identification like a birthmark, and will not leave, no matter what. His loyalty to his views is tempered by his loyalty to the party, and he feels as if it is his obligation to reform the party from within. Such a person has quite a bit of honour, but is ultimately a useful idiot who gives this party cover. In recent years, this is someone like Lincoln Chafee.
- He is a true believer in the "lost ideals" of the party. This is the person who believes that the "real" Republicans have been betrayed, and that while those pure ideals of Republicanism are what they agree with, the Republican Party as it currently is bears no resemblance to those pure ideals. Nonetheless, anything that these impure Republicans do is de fide better than anything that the Democrats would do. This is the sort of person who talks about how the 2006 and 2008 elections were lost over earmarking and spending. A great example of this person is Phil Kerpen.
- He is the sort of lunatic who actually believes that the last demonstrated periods of Republican governance were grand. A great exampleof this sort of person can be found....well, on the Editorial Pages of The Wall St. Journal and on the subscription lists of Human Events and Wingnut Daily. Also, another point: anyone who has been a College Republican over the last eight years or is one now falls into this category.
- He is the sort of single issue fantatical voter who is quite willing to screw over everyone else so long as he gets his result on his issue, be it paying less tax or having his industry unregulated. We all know people like this.
What is interesting to me is that not only is the size of each of these cohorts decreasing, the respectability of belonging to each one is disappearing, too. The country, at large, is rejecting these wingnuts and lunatics - you can no longer get away with saying, "Oh, I vote Republican because I think I shouldn't pay so much tax that I cannot buy my mistress her own condo." People who would have otherwise been sympathetic to (1) are more and more starting to look at them as fools, dupes or useful idiots, and the rest of them are either just purely despised or looked at as insane.
In any event, you should really read the article. It's brilliant.