Now, hatred is by far the longest pleasure; men love in haste, but they detest at leisure. —
For the past eight years, Republicans have diligently cultivated the doctrine of Fuhrerprinzip and the Cult of the Imperial Presidency. In two weeks the harvest will start to come in as the voters ratify the reign of His Ineffable Holiness, Obama the Blessed (peace be upon him).
By no later than next Spring, the Republicans — who will deservedly be reduced not merely to the status of minority party, but that of an unpleasant political afterthought — will be force-fed the nettles that sprouted from the seeds of despotism they planted during Bush the Lesser’s first term.
Between the passage of the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force (aka the Enabling Act) in 2001, and enactment of the Military Commissions Act just before the 2006 mid-term elections, the Republican Party demolished every remaining restraint on executive power.
In the past few weeks, amid an economic disaster precipitated in large measure by Republican-approved public profligacy, Republicans (with the honorable and consistent exception of Washington’s sole statesman, Rep. Ron Paul, and a handful of others) eagerly collaborated with Democrats in creating an economic dictatorship operating out of the Treasury Department. They also authorized the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars to socialize the costs of fraud and criminal corruption on Wall Street.
Bush the Lesser thus ends his lamentable reign by presiding over the greatest redistribution of wealth in human history. This accomplishment makes a very nice matched set with the Bush Regime’s other significant achievement, a fully functioning system of totalitarian control that is only now beginning to make its presence felt in tangible ways.
It’s entirely appropriate that Hugo Chavez, the repellent yet consistently quotable Marxist ruler of Venezuela, has gloatingly observed that “Comrade Bush … is to the left of me now.”
Republicans seeking stave off their richly deserved electoral massacre have rummaged through their shelves in search of a credible re-election theme, only to find that the cupboard is bare, the pantry is empty, the garden has been razed, and nobody at the local grocery store is willing to take their check.
So they have surrendered unconditionally to what has always been the unifying element of the Bush-bot Coalition: Pure, unalloyed, tribal hatred of the Other Side, whether defined as “terrists” (that’s Bushian for “terrorists”), “leftists,” “liberals,” “cultural progressives,” or merely “People with library cards who speak in complete sentences and don’t merely recite the latest thought-stopping slogan retailed on the Sean Hannity program.”
Conservatism, which was once flavored with an almost imperceptible touch of principle, has long since ceased to be anything other than a cynical movement devoted entirely to obtaining and retaining political power.
This is all they have left: Appealing to the basest instincts of its base, the California branch of the Grand Old Torture Party now admits that “waterboarding“ is torture, only to embrace the idea that it is suitable treatment for its political rivals.
Once the Bush-centered conservative movement is deprived of power, it will undergo a process I’m tempted to call reductio ad odium — that is, it will be reduced to nothing more than a shared hatred of the Obama-centered liberal faction.
The post-Bush conservative movement’s lead demagogue will be the public figure best able to make a thick, unpalatable reduction sauce from all the charred bits of resentment and residual ambition that cling to the political frying pan. I suspect that it will be ideologically brown in color and have a flavor similar to that of other bloody-minded nationalist movements whose deeds made 20th Century history so stimulating.
In the meantime, Mr. Obama — who is hardly diffident in embracing what he takes to be his destiny to “change the world” — will inherit the world’s largest, most expensive, and most powerful executive apparatus. From those who built that apparatus or supported the project we can now hear angry, anguished warnings about the dangers of entrusting it to the likes of Obama.
Many of those people, carried away in flights of adolescent hubris, apparently believed that the Republicans would rule in perpetuity. Others, who must be the kind of people surprised by the advent of winter each year, simply didn’t foresee the possibility that the GOP would fall out of political favor.
Stay classy, GOP: This charming little illustration was circulated among California Republicans — the “mainstream” variety, not UROC — most of whom see nothing amiss with keeping military contractors and other corporate welfare whores on the federal dole.
It’s possible that at least some who had been captured by the Bushcult will rediscover the virtues of the separation of powers, checks and balances, and the other key concepts and practices of federalism that we were ordered to discard in the name of national unity in the “war on terror.” This is a possibility in roughly the same sense that it’s possible 50 Cent could secretly be an authority on Elizabethan poetry.
The Wall Street Journal spent the last eight years hymning the glories of unrestricted executive rule and heaping anathemas on those who opposed perpetual war and the destruction of the Anglo-Saxon concept of due process. Its editorial board recently gave tremulous voice to concerns over the uses to which an Obama Regime would put the powers now concentrated in the presidency.
The elevation — or is the proper term “condescension,” given his quasi-divine status? — of Obama to the presidency “would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history,” insisted the Journal‘s editorial collective in words that practically shivered with anxiety. This “period of unchecked left-wing ascendancy” would “mark the restoration of the activist government that fell out of public favor in the 1970s.”
No responsible adult possessing a scintilla of political knowledge and so much as a particle of honesty could write those words and expect them to be taken seriously. The Journal seems to mock its own argument by complaining that the Obama-led liberals would actually reduce federal power in some ways. For instance, they may demand “the watering down of No Child Left Behind testing standards,” or “the end of Guantanamo and military commissions”; the former would scale back unconstitutional Bush-era centralization of education, the latter would end a civil liberties abomination that threatens the liberties of everybody.
The rest of the Journal‘s editorial offered several variations on a familiar theme, namely that under the reign of the “Liberal Supermajority” the State would confer its burgled bounty on a different set of beneficiaries, and wield its enforcement powers on behalf of a different set of prejudices.
All of this is inspired by the equation that defines all modern politics — Lenin’s axiom that the central political question is “Who does what to whom.” Both branches of the Dominant Party are thoroughly Leninist, in that they appear to recognize no limit on the power of the State (Lenin defined his governing model as “power without limit, resting directly on force”) and seek to be the “Who” rather than the “Whom” in the ruling equation.
We are weeks away from the election, months from the actual vote in the Electoral College, and the Inauguration is on the other side of New Years’ Day. Nonetheless, Obama’s handlers — from Joe Biden to Madeleine Albright to Colin Powell — are so anxious to institutionalize a new Leader Cult that they’re skipping all of these intermediate steps.
Predicting an unspecified “challenge” to the Holy One during the first six months of his reign, Biden — speaking to an audience of donors during a stop in Seattle — seemed to be pleading that Obama’s adherents display a religious devotion to his administration, irrespective of the decisions they make and the reaction they get from the untutored public.
“Gird up your loins,” admonished Biden. “I’m asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you’re going to have to reinforce us.”
It’s not clear whether the “generated crisis” Biden predicted with utter certainty would take the form of a military confrontation abroad, a new and devastating permutation of our ongoing political collapse, or perhaps the need to deal forcefully with internal opposition to the glorious new order.
What is clear, however, is that even as Bush-era True Believers will trade places with the Outcasts, the Cult of the Presidency will enjoy a growth spurt — and everyone will be ordered to set aside their reservations about the New Redeemer’s decisions in the name of national unity. I eagerly hope that, when that confected crisis comes, the embittered Republicans tell the Democrats to inseminate themselves. I hope that this, in turn, leads Democrats to escalate their demands for Republican submission.
Among my fondest hopes is that eventually this political conflict becomes an irreconcilable split between the “Red” and “Blue” Americas, and that this rupture would provide opportunities for regional secession by those of us who want nothing more to do with the Empire, its wars, its corruption, and its collapsing economy.
There is a certain diabolical genius behind the division of the United States into “Red” and “Blue” factions. Each of the constituencies cattle-penned into one of those categories covets the power of the central government to compel the other to do its bidding.
After dilating at length on the resentments that define contemporary Conservatism, I’m obliged to point out that Liberalism is just as laden with animus toward those who don’t share that creed.
In late 2000, when the Bush/Gore election was going into extra innings, former Clinton Regime spokesliar Paul Begala took the opportunity to execrate “Red State America” as a land of irrational, violent bigots:
“You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red. The state where an Army private who was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry; they’re all red too.”
Columnist William O’Rourke of the Chicago Sun-Times amplified this theme, designating the states who had rejected Al Gore as “Yahoo Nation.”
O’Rourke described “Yahoo Nation” as “a large, lopsided horseshoe, a twisted W, made up of primarily the Deep South and the vast, lowly populated upper-far-west states that are filled with vestiges of gun-loving, Ku Klux Klan-sponsoring, formerly lynching-happy, survivalist-minded, hate crime-perpetrating, non-blue-blooded, rugged individualists.”
“Yahoo Nation,” he continued, boasts not so much as “one center of thinking America, the teeming centers of creative and intellectual life.” Gore’s Blue State constituency, by way of contrast, included what O’Rourke was pleased to call “America’s great cities: New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle.”
What neither Begala nor O’Rourke, nor anyone else of their ilk, has ever explained is this: If “Red State” Americans are such irredeemable degenerates, why are they permitted to participate in the political process at all? One possible answer is that the current system is built around a cynical symbiosis between “Red” and “Blue”: They are indispensable foils for each other, each anxious to be the “Who” rather than the “Whom.”
By mobilizing resentments through appeals to various hot-button issues that never grow cold through resolution, the Power Elite that created this artificial division herds people into the voting booth to perform a liturgy that has no demonstrable impact on public policy, but ensures the continued “legitimacy” of the Regime. In this way, all of us — Red, Blue, or of neither of those synthetic political shades — are rendered part of the “Whom,” the undifferentiated “people” on the receiving end of whatever the ruling “persons” see fit to inflict on us.
But this arrangement may, at long last, be breaking down, just as the delusion-based fiat money financial system has entered its terminal phase. As we descend into what will be a long and bitter depression, it’s possible that, not all that far in the future, the “Red” and “Blue” Americas might decide that they really don’t want to be part of the same polity.
Try as I might, I can’t see why this would be a bad thing. Our current configuration is not a reflection of some divinely ordained design, after all. There’s no reason why several “Americas” wouldn’t be able to share the same continent, engaging in peaceful commerce and otherwise minding their own business. And it’s difficult to see how such an arrangement would be “un-American”; those who truly love America would want the world to be blessed with not one, but many of them.
Given the unfortunate outcome last time a group of American states decided to quit the “Union” club, it’s clear that the dangers of political fission are great. But remaining artificially yoked together in a bankrupt, increasingly untenable Union would most likely be fatal to liberty.
Painful as it would be for the USA to disintegrate, this may well be the only way that we can avoid descending irretrievably into undisguised tyranny — and Obama might just be the figure to precipitate such a breakup.
And given the fact that Washington is entirely broke and likely to run out of credit, there’s even a chance — a tiny one, mind you — that this breakup could happen without Red and Blue replicating the mass bloodshed that accompanied the attempted divorce between Blue and Gray. Without the financial means to carry out an actual civil war, Red and Blue might simply have to say to each other, “Fare thee well — and get ye lost.”
It probably won’t happen that way. But keep a good thought, anyhow.
Just in case you’re interested, the grammatically dubious title of this essay was inspired by this.