I should take a break from fantasy and stop pretending I might escape to pre-World War II Yorkshire and become a successful veterinarian.
We do, however, have a group of politicians — too many from my once-strong and prosperous Minnesota — who want to take us back to something that looks like 1930s, or maybe 1920s, America. And that is no fantasy.
The speeches Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann gave at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were frustratingly predictable and empty. The same right-wing whining about how hard life is because government is so dastardly big and evil…over and over and over again.
Is anyone else growing tired of this incessant whining? The GOP hasn’t given us new ideas in years, but conservatives are not about new ideas. Conservavite political success today rises and falls on the ability to complain and create chaos, not ideas. So don’t expect the petulant whining to end.
Consider business, for example; often regarded as a core constituency of the GOP, the right laments how poorly things are for business under Obama even as profits rise, bonuses flow with reckless abandon, and fortunes grow. Oh! Right…that’s corporate American business (mostly) and not the “little guy” that the GOP pretends to represent. It is true that the local mechanic is not a Wall Street robber baron, but don’t let that little fact trouble you. Reality has no place in the GOP.
Nevertheless, there has been good news for the GOPs true constituency — e.g., big business — and still all they can do is whimper, whine, and in some cases literally cry. You see the best interests of most Americans does not steer the course for the GOP because the best interests of most Americans has not place in today’s conservative ideology. However if the GOP could only count on the votes from the 1-2% of people who do indeed benefit most from their policies…well, they wouldn’t win many elections, would they?
This is where Tea-Paw and Bachmann come in. They stand merely as ideological pawns in this political deception. They are not the best and the brightest. They simply get noticed and that is all that matters. If they can keep the tiresome repetition of half-truths and flat out lies alive, so be it. Let them speak. But when was the last time you heard anything resembling an original idea come from these people? Anti-government tax-cutting rhetoric is not original and the policy has served us poorly. But that’s all they have.
The right is practicing Goebbels’ Big Lie approach to leadership. If you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big one — like WMDs in Iraq, for example — make the lie big and tell it often. Keep repeating it. Eventually some of the lie will be discovered and forgotten, but the rest will be remembered and believed. There is nothing noble about this, certainly nothing patriotic.
So while speeches by political leaders are bad enough, what really should raise a red flag and be the cause of concern is the fact that so many Americans rally behind the hollow rhetoric delivered in these speeches. THAT is the real issue here. There have always been fringe groups with stupid ideas. Unfortunately the GOP and their noisy sidekicks are bringing some of these to the mainstream.