Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Confederacy Has Won The Civil War

POLITICO has a very good article today about how the Republicans have managed to break our democracy.

The American people have, for over a decade, been saying they are sick and tired of government that doesn’t work.

Which is why they have elected the party that made government stop working.

It is a Southern revolt, Southern-driven, a revolt led by men with Southern accents and Southern roots and values. A barely disguised racism plays a key part. Racism seems to work for the Republican Party. The Republican Party is the Old Confederacy reborn.

If you dig a little you’ll find some racism in most white Americans, not a basic or an overriding racism but a small tumor of racism that you can cultivate and prod into metastasizing if you work at it. The Republican Party has become very good at cultivating this tumor in a lot of people.

John Dean famously said “There is a cancer on the presidency.” He was trying to warn Richard Nixon that his problems were fatal. Now you could say cancer has won the presidency. The Republican Party, which most of this past year seemed in the final stages of collapse has regained its vigor. They have done this by realizing they are the cancer.

Cancer is practically unstoppable without very unpleasant side effects. Nobody likes cancer. Everybody is deathly afraid of cancer. This explains its power, and maybe it explains the power of the Republican Party right now. They are the party of failing government and a degraded working class and racism and the theft of our American Dream by Wall Street billionaires and banking billionaires and healthcare billionaires. Why have we voted to empower the same people who have degraded our lives?

This election has played out like the Chris Rock joke: “I’m really angry that Obama hasn’t cured cancer. So you know what? I’m gonna vote for cancer!”

It makes no sense, that’s why it’s a good joke. It makes no sense but it is exactly what has happened. Reality doesn’t have to make sense. People behave stupidly. Large groups of people are especially prone to stupidity. Which is why the Founding Fathers invented the Electoral College, which tomorrow will finalize the election of a stupid, corrupt, ignorant, treasonous man to the presidency over the objections of a majority of the voters.

The Electoral College isn’t a perfect thing. It isn’t just a safeguard against mob rule. It’s also a relic of America’s slave past, designed to safeguard the less populous states (The South) from having their slaves freed.

It’s as if the Civil War hadn’t ended in 1865 with the defeat of Lee. It’s as if the assassination of Lincoln was the more important event, the continuation of war that led to Jim Crow and the murders and lynchings of many thousands of black citizens.

It seems like the dominant rump of our Congress is itself a recidivist remnant of the old Confederacy. The American flag pins in their lapels are only a disguise. The South never forgot the Civil War cause. They never really surrendered as a people, never accepted the values Lincoln set out for us, never relinquished the comfortable idea that whiteness is superior. And they have been an invading army long after Meade turned Lee back at Gettysburg. They have invaded, infiltrated and infected the northern states with their bigotry. Bigotry isn’t the goal, though, it is simply a tool.

Of course all white Americans have bigotry in them. It just needs bringing out. The racism in northern cities is different from the racism of the South. In some cases it seems more virulent.

The material that helps breed racism and division is what Republicanism has been manufacturing for decades: the careful degradation of working lives, the careful degradation of public sector protections of working people, the careful degradation of our democratic institutions which guarantee our rights.

The Republican goal has been to break the whole American democracy so people feel powerless, because powerlessness makes people angry, and anger makes them more easily divided and defeated.

In a way these unreconstructed Confederates have taken the Union strategy that defeated them in 1865 and turned it upon the North itself. Grant and most memorably Sherman took the war directly to the Southern infrastructure and broke it down. Sherman’s march to the sea burned a wide path of destruction from Atlanta to the sea, cutting the Confederacy in two.

Look at the Republican strategy unfolding this weekend in North Carolina. (Described here at MEDIUM) The defeated Republican governor is hurriedly destroying the power of his office before he surrenders it to the Democrat who defeated him.

Look at what Republican rule has done in Kansas (reported by USNews) and in Michigan (...Yo––Flint? Poisoned drinking water?) or what Scott Walker has done to Wisconsin, or just go read Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann's books about the march of Republican dysfunction from DC to the states

The modern Republican Confederates have brought their industrial and infrastructure and political destruction north to Michigan, to Ohio, to Wisconsin, to western Pennsylvania. Those places now feel like the old South––poorer working people, jobs gone, water systems broken, universities in decline (the Southern universities––not all of them certainly but many––have long been a great example of poorer education and superior football), bridges decaying, social fabric frayed, systems dysfunctional––and the dysfunction has been carefully achieved under strict Republican principles. Principles very unlike the ones that shaped the party under Lincoln, principles directly opposed to the founding ones, just as the designs of the modern “conservative” Republicans directly contradict the pocket Constitutions they carry around in their pockets and the flag pins they wear on their lapels.

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