This blogging adventure began fourteen years ago in a different world. The goal, to influence and inform a post-racial Republican agenda, seems almost laughable today. Republicans are now preparing a Fascist coup while Democrats wring their hands and dither. A blog about creative policy ideas is pretty much a waste of time, a cosplay exercise. For someone whose focus is problem-solving, there’s not much left to say.
It’s difficult to comprehend what a different country this was at the end of 2008. A Republican Presidential nominee was promising to fight climate change by taxing carbon emissions. John McCain supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, gun control, and environmental protections. He opposed drilling in the Arctic and referred to evangelicals as “agents of intolerance.” When conspiracy-addled town hall participants raved about Obama’s secret history, McCain forcefully fought back. As recently as 2008, Republicans had a Presidential nominee with only a passing interest in abortion. Just fourteen years ago, Republicans had backed a leader who cared about America’s well-being more than he cared about his career.
I began writing this blog after evangelicals forced McCain to place Sarah Palin on the ticket. While my main interest was policy, I also wanted to warn Republicans what would happen to the party and the country if we tolerated the emergence of white grievance entertainment as a core party principle. While the warnings proved apt, the effort was a thudding failure.
Neither “Populism” nor “Fascism” quite capture the uniquely American political form Republicans have since developed. Populism has too much genuine policy. Fascism aspires to a degree of order Republicans can’t begin to imagine. Modern Republicans are promoting a political nightmare blending the horrors of concentration camps with the lowbrow glitz of pro-wrestling; carnival barkers backed by disorganized, addled, death squads. A mere decade and a half after the McCain campaign, Republicans are the Insane Clown Party.
For those who love to blame our wellspring of madness on social media, I’d like to remind you that my mom was warning me back in 2007 that George W. Bush was about to replace the dollar with a new North American currency called The Amero. Those idiots at McCain campaign rallies railing about Obama’s birth certificate had never heard of Facebook. Social media didn’t do this. This was always inside us.
We live in a world of endless possibilities. Perhaps there’s a way we exit this era of madness without a great spasm of violence. If that path exists I can’t see it. I’m too old to be a guerilla. I haven’t spent my life studying the IRA or the Balkan War. Not sure I have much to say about what we face.
Our upcoming election is the most important of our lives not because it can derail this reckoning, but because it will determine its shape. How much power will lie in the hands of sane, competent political figures as each stage of our democratic breakdown unfolds? When Republicans smash elements of our public order, will there be someone with the power and the will to confront them? Will a leadership figure emerge with a Churchillian commitment to preserve government for the people and by the people?
One day I hope to live in a country so sane and stable that arguments about public policy have meaning. In a place where the only political issue is whether liberal democracy is good or bad, I don’t have much to say. I vote yes on liberal democracy. Not sure much else matters.
This remains a good place to work through ideas. I’ll probably still post here, but you may have noticed the pace dropping significantly. We’ll see how things go. In the meantime, buckle up out there.