Thursday, October 17, 2013

Politics: False Centrism and the GOP Agenda of Minority Control

And political commentary that has caught my eye as the inglorious Republican shutdown of the U.S. government ends ingloriously: 

For Common Dreams, Richard Eskow applauds President Obama for having stood up to the "closet ideologues of the artificial 'center,' the ones who unwisely argued that being the 'adult in the room' meant surrendering to the tantrums of children." He also argues strongly against the meme pushed by the "centrist" mainstream media that those driving the GOP insurrection are merely fringe members of that party, who do not have the support of the leaders of the entire party:

It’s important to remember that this insurrection against our constitutional form of government was not conducted by "renegades" within the Republican Party, as so many pundits and party officials would have us believe. If that were the case, John Boehner could have put a clean resolution to a vote and ended the shutdown on Day One. The party’s Senate "moderates" could have promptly ended Sen. Cruz’s mock filibuster, sparing both the nation and the Senator a considerable degree of embarrassment. 
This wasn’t the work of the Tea Party. This was the work of the Republican Party. 
Their plan all along has been to parlay their stunning 2012 electoral loss into a series of legislative wins through the use of threats, drastic actions – and, yes, "hostage taking." Their intention from the very beginning was to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Also for Common Dreams, John Nichols points out how "moderate" Republicans like Paul Ryan leverage the artificial crises created by the GOP-dominated Congress to "make radical changes appear to be unavoidable." A minority controls the direction of the whole nation, as Ryan continues to try to position himself as a "centrist" representing the middle ground:

In a much-discussed Wall Street Journal column of last week — published at a critical juncture between the beginning of the government shutdown that was engineered by his caucus and the beginning of what could be a debt ceiling standoff — the Budget Committee chairman scoped out what was supposedly a middle ground where Democrats and Republicans might get together and "actually agree on some things."

At Salon, Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol warns us that we haven't by any means seen the end of the determination of a rabid ideological minority falsely representing itself as the non-ideological moderate center to fix the nation's course for the future, in opposition to the wishes of the majority. As she notes, 

[A]s long as a fired-up and morally dogmatic minority, backed by ideological money, can manipulate legislatures, it can choke things up.

As an interesting footnote to what happened yesterday in the U.S. Congress: Democrat Cory Booker handily won election to the U.S. Senate from New Jersey yesterday. This election represents a certain victory for gay rights in the U.S., given the exceptionally dirty gay-baiting campaign that Booker's opponent Steve Lonergan ran, which had, it goes without saying, the blessing of the National Organization for Marriage. Who put their money on entirely the wrong horse in this race . . . .

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