I’ve been thinking of the last couple of months as the GOP has devolved into the never-ending clown show that has been keeping political nerds so entertained. It’s just been really really weird. My wife and I were talking about all of this and she was at a loss for words trying to grapple with what should really be two mutually exclusive facts: 1) the GOP leadership is making contraception an electoral issue, and 2) it’s 2012.
There’s a joke over at Balloon-Juice about something called “Peak Wingnut” (based on Peak Oil) or the “Wingularity” (from the Singularity) where all the right-wing rhetoric finally reaches critical mass because it just can’t get any more crazy. The punchline, of course, is that “Peak wingnut is a lie,” meaning it can always get crazier.
I wonder if mythical moderate Republicans ever just sit around and wonder what has happened to their party, or if rational conservatives (another increasingly pink unicorn) wonder when Barry Goldwater started sounding comparatively moderate. How did they get here?
Make no mistake, the road to this modern GOP started with the Southern Strategy, outlined by Nixon strategist, Kevin Phillips:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.
You start with that, and then you embrace resentment, with a candidate that talks about “welfare queens” and “young bucks buying T-bone steaks.” That works for a while, but starts to wear off, so you start to embrace outright ignorance with a successful presidential candidate who brags about getting bad grades in college.
You start using a so-called fair and balanced cable news network run by a former Nixon adviser to disseminate all your party-line talking points and since most of your constituents use it as their primary means of information, you get the added bonus that they don’t even hear opposing views. By now the formula is working so well that when studies appear that say that viewers of this network are actually less informed than viewers of a fake news show, they just dismiss this information as more evidence of liberal bias.
Don’t believe me on that last point? Read this, published yesterday:
Regarding the letter, “Become informed, stop watching Fox,” (Feb. 10), perhaps the writer is unaware that Fox News is the number one rated cable news channel whose viewers outnumber those of all the other news channels combined. It seems highly unlikely that people would continue to favor a news channel that didn’t keep them informed.
Farleigh Dickinson University’s little poll that finds Fox News viewers are “less informed than those who don’t watch any news at all” is so ludicrous as to be laughable. There is a liberal bias against Fox News because that news network always offers opposing sides of an issue.
As its motto states, “We report; you decide.”
Things are spiraling out of control but I’m not even sure if the GOP establishment is capable of recognizing what they have become anymore. Four years ago, they actually nominated this person to be one 72-year old heartbeat away from the presidency:
And this guy was one of eleven different candidates to have at one time led in nationwide polls for the GOP nomination.
So was this guy:
This is a party that doesn’t just embrace ignorance, they wanna have contraception-free sex with it. The current national poll leader for the GOP nomination is a guy who believes that contraception is “not okay.”
The GOP has spent the last 40 years deliberately catering to a shrinking segment of the population that is somehow able to simultaneously believe that abortion is the worst thing imaginable, but also that mandating insurance companies cover contraception for women who choose to use it represents tyranny on par with fascism.
The most prominent supporter of Rick Santorum has this enlightened approach to the issue:
And you may say to yourself, my God, what have I done.