Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ghosts of Goldwater

Mitt's a' surgin', Newt's a' glurgin', and Ron Paul's little fans are doin' their usual Aspergen' as the great Indecision 2012 Pre-Game comes to it's godforsaken conclusion.

This time, Florida was the designated kingmaker. We've been through this all before, how the tired old sods in X State are going to deliver the final verdict on who has the most electable hairdo. It's bullshit - boring bullshit, the worst of all. I'll wager no matter how well Romney does, the fight will still last right up until the convention with delegates sneering at each other. There will be a hearty mix of cheers and boos when the poor Mormon-bot accepts the nomination.

And then he'll lose to Obama. Not because he's the good guy here. What, you still thought the world had a nice clean moral lesson for you? You think Stalin beat Hitler because he was nice!?

So this is still an elaborate sideshow - like I've been saying - because all the other news is uglier.

But that's not to say there aren't some things to learn from the elephant rodeo. Not morals obviously but some very nasty facts about the collective American consciousness. Like how reactionary it is.

I've already singled out Ron Paul as a grumpy old fart scared of the modern world but the reason such a charlatan has taken off is that he speaks to some deep ugly sentiments. See, Americans are a very scared people. It's how we got eight years of Bush, not in spite of his disregard for civil liberties and diplomatic nuance but because Americans by and large prefer getting strip searched at the airport if it makes them feel a little more secure.

And yes, I'm familiar with the Ben Franklin quote. I won't debate it because nobody cares anymore or has for some time.

Even in the 21st Century, conservatism in America is still just a frightened reaction to the social changes of the 60s. Barry Goldwater lead the charge back then, also wrapped in the Libertarian banner, and the Grand Old Party has yet to abandon his tactics. They're generally more coy about it now, using "welfare" to mean "brown people" though Newt's been a hoot about saying it quite openly - and acting perplexed why the coloreds don't understand he's totally on their side!

"Why are you people so uppity?"

Here, see if you can put the name to the quote -

"It's time to stop the spread of government dependency and fight it like the poison it is."

"Capitalism should not be condemned, since we haven't had capitalism."

"I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom."

"If you're not brave, you're not going to be free."

"I'm the most underdog underdog there is. "

Goldwater or Gingrich? Yesterday or yesteryear? I could tell ya, but that would spoil the fun. Hell, it could all be Goldwater - you could show up at the primary just quoting his silly little book and be hailed the new frontrunner, bold new ideas and all.

It sells at the rallies and debates because the crowd they're addressing, conservatives and Tea Partiers, are by and large the losers of the 60s. People who hid themselves away from the changes, refused sex and drugs, and are still bitter that the damn longhairs got all the good tail.  Especially with that last one. Conservatives are just enamored with playing the victim because in their mind they always are.

I have to laugh whenever I see empirical research into common conservative talking points - food stamp demographics, the fictional bell curve - because all of those are grounded in facts and logic. That's not what modern conservatism is about, it's an emotional response of the scared stupid. And it hasn't changed in fifty years.

"Tax cuts and BRRAAAIIINNSS!"

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