Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Arkansas Times on New Southern-Fried GOP: "Happily Hateful"

This week's editorial in the Arkansas Times is right on target.  It compares the hilarity of some of the GOP debate audiences about folks dying from lack of health insurance to the gallows humor one might have expected from a Buchenwald guard.  And then it notes the precise social and cultural locations from which the ugliness that is now the name and character of the Republican party in toto emanates:

One of the two major American political parties has been taken over by its most vicious and reckless element. The Southern racists of the old Democratic Party, defenders of lynch mobs, were a nasty bunch to be sure, but they didn't run the national Party, nor could they win its presidential nomination for one of their own. The first Southerner nominated by Democrats since the Civil War was a champion of civil rights and of government aid to the poor. He was so hated by the Southern conservatives that they left the Democratic Party and joined the Republican, where they acquired instant influence. Their descendants are the backbone of the Tea Bagger movement.

The Baggers' rise is not due solely to their own aggressiveness, though they have plenty of that. They've formed an alliance with the corporations, who need footsoldiers for the class warfare they wage relentlessly. The corporations pay the Baggers to fight against their own best economic interests – fairer taxation, better health care, higher wages – and the Baggers are willing as long as they're also allowed to harass people of the wrong race or religion or nationality or sexual inclination. They're happily hateful. 

This Arkansas paper knows whereof it speaks.   To our discredit, we Arkansans went more solidly Republican than ever before in the 2008 elections, and polls indicate we've ramped up our Republican sympathies even more as the 2012 elections approach.

And a single factor is far and away more responsible for this ramped-up Republicanism in Arkansas than anything else: R-A-C-E.  The Southern strategy that put the solid South in the Republican camp is now playing out in a lethal end-game in American politics, and for those of us living cheek by jowl with the effects of that strategy in the new Republican Southern heartland, the picture is an exceedingly unattractive one.

And one that ought to give Americans in other parts of the nation who care about the future of this country and its democratic institutions strong reason to pause and think.  And to do something to push back against the destructiveness of the political movement now centered in the bible belt part of the country (but funded by economic elites residing elsewhere), which will gleefully run the entire nation into the ground to prove its religio-political points, given half a chance.

The graphic is Michael Lind's breakdown at Salon of the regional background of the members of the tea party caucus placed in Congress in the 2010 elections.

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