Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts in the endgame.

Welcome to the endgame of a long political play for electoral dominance in the United States. What do I mean by that? I mean that groups like The Family and Koch Enterprises, amongst others, have been playing the long game in American politics, and that they have nearly reached the culmination of their strategy. As Rachel Maddow brilliantly explained, the unrest in Wisconsin can only be understood in the context of a struggle for the survival of the Democratic Party. After all, unions are the last bastion of the left in terms of fundraising, and so cutting off unions means cutting fiscal support for the Democratic Party. Especially post-Citizens United, elections are won with money, and so marginalizing unions means disenfranchising voters from all walks of life.

What would it mean, though, for the Republicans to have won so thoroughly? To answer that, it helps to understand what the Republican Party (under all its guises) is and what they stand for. As much as the Democrats are beholden to the forces of irrationality, the Republicans mark themselves as being still less rational. As much as the Democrats are subservient to unbounded corporatism, the Republicans distinguish themselves as being still more enamored of model of the corporation as state. While the Democrats are weak on issues of human rights, the Republicans are plain monstrous.

This last point deserves some elaboration: witness the unabashed war on women, going so far as to seriously propose that it be legal to kill doctors for providing medical care to women that includes abortion. Faced with economic crisis, they would callously eat the future, all the while saying "so be it." Given the pro-democracy movements in many parts of the world, the Republican taking heads are by and large siding with the dictators and using the movements to inflame Islamophobia. What other word than "monstrous" can describe these kinds of actions and positions?

We must ask ourselves, then, whether we want future challengers in the political arena to be obliged to play by rules written by the current crop of Republicans; rules that increasingly leave no room for reasoned debate, or indeed, for any thought more complex than a sound-bite. Do we want to solve our problems, or are we content to let a small few make them much worse as they pursue their own self-interest? Those that have brought us to this endgame know full well that they will not reap what they have sown, for the consequences are still longer-term than their callous and wicked plays at power. Thus it falls to us, those who care about the world that we inherit and that we pass on to the next generation, to decide what the nature of politics will be.

It's not all so bleak, of course. Given that there's about 90,000 people protesting in Wisconsin against the latest round of union-busting, the Republican endgame may yet be averted or at least postponed. Let us not waste the opportunity given to us by this uprising, but instead use it to remind people of what the stakes really are.

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