Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Made Their Myth, Now They're Trapped

There's this line from a Mudhoney song, "Made his myth, now he's trapped," that I think perfectly captures the current situation with the Republican Party. Its modern incarnation was forged by the backlash from the Civil Rights Era, and Nixon brought that discontent home to the GOP to become the majority party for a generation. Now we're seeing the final fallout of that generation - racist, anti-intellectual, paranoid - in its final throes, and younger generations emerge. Republicans have become the Archie Bunkers of America. The problem for them is that Archie Bunker is now a museum piece.

We're not living in the days of the Southern Strategy. We're living in the days of hip-hop, global culture, and Barack Obama. The rest of the world has moved on, and this leaves the GOP trapped. As they become increasingly isolated, the GOP becomes trapped by that hardcore base that first helped bring them to power all those years ago. But this base is an anachronism, and not really offensive anymore. They're pretty much a sad joke. I can't even muster the energy to get upset at Rush Limbaugh anymore. The man is a clown, a colossal fucking moron, and this fact is obvious to pretty much anyone my age who has their heads screwed on straight. It makes about as much sense to rip on Limbaugh as it does to rip on...oh, I dunno...Vanilla Ice. Yeah, that's it.

It's funny that even 15 years ago, this wasn't the broad consensus. But I think our generation had to grow up and come of age. Now we're old enough to start taking politics seriously, with retiring parents on one end, and new children on the other. So it's natural that the Hip-Hop Generation is becoming more and more the mainstream American view. The election of Obama is a watershed for this shift. It really is the generational paradigm shift in American politics.

I'm sure there are some smart people in the Republican Party who know this. They aren't all circus clowns or manipulative Mr. Burns types. But they can't join the rest of us here in the 21st Century without losing that hardcore base, a base which has defined them for 40 years. And there's no way, realistically, to discard that many voters and still win elections. The closet cases and dittoheads are necessary to keep the elections close. But Republicans can no longer win with them, and as the years go by, that core base will keep the rest of us away, far away. There's no way in hell any GOP candidate on the national level wins the Black vote, or the Latino vote, or the Youth vote, or the Womens vote.

I'm thinking about this, and I keep coming back to the same conclusion. It's not just that the GOP needs to lose a couple more election cycles before they get their acts together. I think it's a matter of seeing the Southern Strategy Generation to the grave. You literally will have to wait until the Dobsons and Robertsons and Limbaughs and their ilk have passed. Once the baby boomers start to diminish, then eventually you could see a reemergence of the Republican Party, along new lines and new demographics.

Of course, I could always be wrong. Americans are good people by their nature, but they don't pay much attention to things, and they can be very easily manipulated. Good heavens, this nation lost its mind for five years after 9/11. Another national tragedy on that scale, and anything is game. And the authoritarians who gave us Bush/Cheney will remain ready to swoop in and wreak havok. But I don't think anything like that is about to happen. The longer trends for our nation is more tolerant, more open, more cosmopolitan. More Hip-Hop, and less Limbaugh.

There's somebody near the top of the hierarchy at the GOP who knows this. Who knows, maybe even poor, picked-upon Michael Steele has figured this out. But it's a tragic realization, knowing that there really are no options for changing course, for avoiding the consequences of this little political Faustian bargain. And maybe that's why Steele feels content to publicly grovel at Limbaugh's feet. What's the use? Either way, they're losers. The Republicans have made their myth; now they're trapped.

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