To say that the Republican Party since Nixon had pandered to the lowest common denominator isn’t quite accurate, is it? Probably because the term is derived from the arithmetical least common denominator which makes one think of a unique number. Perhaps lowest common denominator was a more polite way of saying that the Republican Party would thenceforth pander to lowbrows, to their basest; to ignorance. Theirs was a war on elites, and, of course, hippies. Not to mention, non-whites. Not directly, please.
While Nixon did this pandering using Buchananesque slogans such as ‘The Silent Majority’, Reagan used the mendacious racial code words long used in the southern states, along with allusions to large northern cities. There has been no looking back!
Long before Trump, Patrick Buchanan wanted to make America Great Again. Now, as Yogi said, same crap all over again. Buchanan’s still alive. So is Gingrich. There is no god.
Think that it may have been in something Bruce Webb wrote back then, not sure, but, ‘willfully ignorant’ was one of those pairings of words one never forgets. Then the conversation was probably about Social Security. Here is about The Insurrection and the insurrection was much about terminal ignorance. America has become too ignorant to live. We see this is confirmed daily in TV interviews when a TV journalist asks a Trump supporter a question about facts, reality.
The Insurrection was a result of gerrymandering which was consequent flaws in the constitution that couldn’t be resolved because of partisanship which was a consequence of gerrymandering which was a consequence of flaws in the constitution which couldn’t be addressed because of partisanship. It was because of all the platitudes and banalities that have been pandered that Americans became terminally ignorant. With the flaws in the constitution, Republicans didn’t need a majority. Just enough in the right places; places being fungible.
Slavery, the Nation’s great sin, was the cause of most, if not all, of these flaws. The Tenth was a consequence of slavery. Gerrymandering was a consequence of States Rights. So post-Civil War segregation, Jim Crow, and the lynchings. And, so, by extension, partisanship. Slavery and greed were the ugly butterflies that started it all.
All came to fruition in the 1990s. Bush II didn’t need a majority; knew it. He just needed to win in a few swing states and let the constitution do the rest; a majority of the idiots in certain electorally endowed states. That was easy. They didn’t wish to hear the facts; about reality. He would go for the lowest common denominator, use wedge issues, and speak with a fake red neck accent. Nixon and Reagan had knocked intellectualism on its ass. The terminally didn’t want to hear about global warming. They would prefer to drive a Hummer and kill Arabs.
Problem was, Bush II wasn’t quite smart enough to be good at even being bad. Left one hell of a mess. Mess lead to Barack Obama’s election, which was a good thing. The whole world thought so excepting our own terminals. Couldn’t stand the idea of a non-white man being in the Whitehouse. Drove them insane. Their democracy had been stolen from them by the voters. First they bought guns, lots and lots of guns in preparation for war. In preparation for taking back their democracy; the one where only their vote counted.
The likes of Buchanan and Gingrich, and the election of non-white Barack Obama, wrought the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Mick Mulvaney, and Steve Scalise; the Tea Party. To be followed by the likes of Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, Scott Perry, Mo Brooks, . . . joined by the likes of Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene; the Freedom Caucus. If the names seem familiar; they should. All these folks took a hand in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. So, too, did Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and Kevin McCarthy. Michelle, if only in spirit.
Many were neither Republican nor Democrat on that day on that day of days nor the days before. Noticeably, many were from Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, … Those once bastions of good-paying union jobs that for a generation and a half now had left the sons and daughters to wander alone in the rust belt. Offshored and deserted by both parties; especially the Democrats.
Turns out that income, equity and intelligence are correlated. They weren’t idiots before when they had good-paying unions jobs. Not so one would notice.
Back when, give or take a few years, there may have been a perturbation in the cosmos of the US political galaxy that resulted in today’s Big Mess. It is more than a little bit possible that there may have been more than one such perturbation. Whatever. We know from our study of history that along about this time the party of FDR began to gentrify with age, and, that at about the same time, the party of Lincoln began to dixiefy.
It is, of course, possible that these cosmic perturbations themselves were caused by earlier perturbations. We could put together a string of causes and effects such as WWI led to WWII and that both had led to southern blacks being more demanding of their constitutional rights and that these demands energized the Civil Rights Movement and accompanying Civil Rights advancements of the 1950s and 60s. Before that, that WWI itself was a consequence of the demands of the Industrial Revolution for raw materials and markets, …. The natural evolution of things.
By 1950, the Democratic Party of FDR was bound as if by contract to the big unions. The contractual being that the unions would deliver the votes and perhaps some campaign mullah in exchange for elected democrats favorably addressing issues of importance to the unions. Fair to say that some unions may have put their members’ interests first, were led by corrupt leaders. It always helps to have someone to blame.
In the broad scheme of things, the unions represented the working class; the working class that had voted for FDR four times. In the main, the working class was tried and true Democratics while the Republican Party was, in the main, made up of businessmen and farmers. Excepting, of course, the former confederacy.
WWII was over, but not really. Truman’s desegregation of the Armed Forces had gone fairly smoothly. Elected in 1952, Ike had, as promised, kinda sorta ended the Korean War. But, within a couple of years, his own John Foster Dulles had poked our noses into an Indochine française dispute far to the south in a country called Vietnam. Ike, too, made significant inroads into desegregation. Sent troops to Little Rock. Segregation was far from settled and the now so-called Cold War wasn’t. Korea would become Vietnam; much worse. Both were significant perturbations.
Fair to say that the 1960s took the brunt of these two perturbations. It was a Democratic President Lyndon Johnson who went big on the evermore unpopular Vietnam War. No one likes to see the lives of America’s sons and daughters wasted. What were we doing in Vietnam, anyway? The Civil Rights movement now had energetic, charismatic leaders such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. LBJ went big on Civil Rights. Shook the Cosmos. The exodus of Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) began.
By the 1970s, many of the sons and daughters of those blue-collar union workers now held degrees and dressed for the office when going to work from the suburbs. These sons and daughters with degrees believed that they believed in equal rights and civil rights; they truly did. They just didn’t want to ride the busses and subways with the unwashed nor live next door to them, nor to a dirty smelly factory. Turns out, these sons and daughters of the blue collared union workers were exhibiting symptoms of early stage yuppiefication.
Come 1992, the Democratic Party of FDR was counting votes and not liking the counting. The much diminished unions could no longer be counted on. Their yuppified sons and daughters, and the newly franchised black vote helped, but not enough. And, what about the money?
Turns out, there were a lot of enlightened corporations and wealthy individuals ready and willing with the ‘mother’s milk of politics.’ ‘Twas this lot that Dems now came a-courting, and the working class that they now began ignoring evermore. New Best Friends.
By the time Bill Clinton ran against G. H. W. Bush in 1992 the Democratic Party of FDR was in tatters. In 1976 Jimmy Carter had sensed the winds of change and looked to his fellow Trilaterals for answers. Problem was, the Trilaterals were cutting edge for a time quickly passing them, and the world by. America wasn’t even ready for what was going on at that time, let alone for going forth into the future.
Turns out, what America really was good at was going backwards. The Dixiefication of the same Republican Party that had helped pass the Civil Rights Act didn’t stop at the old Mason-Dixon. This began even before 1965 with Barry Goldwater’s run to be abetted by Richard Nixon. Reagan was the big beneficiary, getting the votes of union workers, and those of their sons and daughters suburbanites across the northern states.
Before the Reagan revolution was over, Reagan had successfully weakened some of the Democratic Party’s most prized accomplishments and was getting half the union vote whilst all the while trying his damnedest to destroy the unions. Consequent this most successful Reagan Revolution and the accompanying dixiefication of the Republican party, Republicans had come to believe that political power in America was theirs and theirs alone for the foreseeable future. By 1992, few thought Clinton stood a chance against an incumbent GHWB. Turns out that leading America backward is a lot easier than leading America forward. Carter tried.
Been said that politics is the art of the possible. In 1992, the Democratic Party, with its back against the wall, was hoping and a praying for a miracle. One possibility for winning back some of the Reagan voters was to appropriate some of his policies. The Clinton Campaign called this triangulation. Poor the politician who doesn’t know which way the wind is blowing. Democratic leaders began singing the praises of free markets and talking about welfare reform. Such was the mood of the country, may well have been the only way possible.
When Clinton won, the Republicans were enraged. How dare he? Other the polite pro forma from GHWB, there were to be no more best wishes for a successful presidency, Mr. President, nor for any future Democratic President.
Whereas Republicans had helped pass the Civil Rights Legislation of the 1950s and 60s and Democrats had helped both Reagan and GHWB, the New Republicans weren’t inclined to during the Carter Administration weren’t about to during the Clinton. In the New Republican Party, bipartisanship was a no-no.
Whether or not going backward involves dumbing down, there can be no doubt that appealing to the lowest common denominator was a major contributor. Nixon planted the seeds. Reagan both sowed and reaped. There was no platitude too banal. Both had help.
The Democratic Party had abandoned the much-abused working class.
Lest there be any doubt about who killed bipartisanship; come G. W. Bush, even after Florida, the Democrats in Congress were still willing to wish him well, to work across the aisle. All was wasted on the New Republican Party. It was their way or the highway!
This wasn’t nearly extreme enough for some of them. During the Barack Obama Administration, members of the New Republican Party formed the Tea Party and then the conservative Freedom Caucus from which to attack the Obama Administration and potential Democratic Presidential candidates, and those fellow Republican members they deemed to not be conservative enough. Declared open war!
Whoever, whenever, planted the seeds of the January 6th Insurrection; they were being, had been, nurtured from within the New Republican Party; by its leaders. Then came Donald Trump. Many of his supporters, many of those there on that day of days, felt they had been deserted by their own government, by both parties.
There’s a whole lot of GOPandering going on.
Essential for the survival of the Grand Old Party.
It only takes a few billionaires to keep them going, financially, but they also need a lot of votes, which have to come from those in thrall to the wealthy & powerful.
That takes subterfuge. They must show they have The Common Touch, in the form of Trump. There plans all depends on him, and gullibilty.
(Are we not to have a two party system?)
Why Republicans Keep Falling for Trump’s Lies
NY Times – Jan 5
A great post. I can not add to it.
I like this by Mark Sumner over @ DK.
Excuse my ignorance . . . DK?
Sorry. Mark is a staff writer @ Daily Kos
The insurrection was something I wanted to look at. Had a hard time getting a handle on it (walked around it for a couple of weeks). It was just too big, kept having to draw lines. Mark’s covers some of the other perspectives; some of the ones that I had drawn out. Book-length, at least.
I read your “excellent” reply to Mark’s commentary also. Sometimes when I encounter a good read, it is difficult to say something meaningful other than I enjoyed the read or similar. An acknowledgement of a person’s words suffices.
Fantastic article. On the nose, and illustrates how events (current and historical) don’t occur in a vacuum. The content and linear correlations presented were so good, to the point I wanted more. Maybe you’re working on a book? I’d buy it.
I do have some difficulty swallowing (entirely, at least) your concluding premise that the insurrectionists (and those who would sympathize with them) feel deserted by their own government. They have, in fact, been deserted. But, I think the ignorance you referenced, willful or otherwise, is a bigger factor in their worldviews and behaviors. Yes some of them fall for the bullshit; others crave it and won’t accept anything else from their politicians. In truth, I’m only regurgitating what your article completely and coherently stated. Just felt like maybe you let some of the perps off a little too easily in your wrap-up.
are you saying the insurrection was caused by history?
By events of the past? Yes.
We study history so as to better understand and be able to cope with the present (now), and to be better able to prepare for the future.
The failure to understand what is going on now never seems to end well. This understanding is more critical in America today than at any time in our history as a Nation. America is on the brink of collapse.
What is this that we call history? What is it good for?
History is: a chronological record of significant events (such as those affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes, a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events, the study of the past, …, the past in context. History is all these things.
What is missing from ‘a chronological record of significant events? History without context is meaningless. And context is? Context is all those things that were going on before and during those significant events; the environment of their occurrence, if you will; and the events that followed these significant events; their consequences.
my question was meant to be a kind of joke. it is easy to look at things we don’t like today and blame them on things that happened in the past, without ever thinking clearly about actual cause and effect, or the conditions that influenced the things in the past, or the things that might have happened today if the “cause” we look to in the past had not happened.
i don’t want to get into specifics on this because I have tried in the past and it doesn’t go well.