The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Sunday, March 19, 2006

GOP Strategist: "My party must be stopped."

First things first-- this is an absolute must-read. If you're a light sleeper, however, you might save it for Monday morning. This could keep anyone awake all night. God help me when I buy the book.

In recent posts I've pointed out John McCain's apparent willingness to kow-tow to the Bush Republicans for the sake of his presidential ambitions. I've also written about a 78 year-old former Republican Representative who's decided to come out of retirement in an attempt to unseat one of DeLay's corrupt cronies.

I guess this story rounds out the 'ugly' part of the triumverate.

Four decades ago, Kevin Phillips, a young political strategist for the Republican Party, began work on what became a remarkable book. In writing "The Emerging Republican Majority" (published in 1969), he asked a very big question about American politics: How would the demographic and economic changes of postwar America shape the long-term future of the two major parties? His answer, startling at the time but now largely unquestioned, is that the movement of people and resources from the old Northern industrial states into the South and the West (an area he enduringly labeled the "Sun Belt") would produce a new and more conservative Republican majority that would dominate American politics for decades. Phillips viewed the changes he predicted with optimism. A stronger Republican Party, he believed, would restore stability and order to a society experiencing disorienting and at times violent change. Shortly before publishing his book, he joined the Nixon administration to help advance the changes he had foreseen.

Phillips has remained a prolific and important political commentator in the decades since, but he long ago abandoned his enthusiasm for the Republican coalition he helped to build. His latest book (his 13th) looks broadly and historically at the political world the conservative coalition has painstakingly constructed over the last several decades. No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness. (His final chapter is entitled "The Erring Republican Majority.")

. . .[Phillips] identifies three broad and related trends — none of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration's policies — that together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debt — current and prospective — that both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country's immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future. (. . .)

Phillips fully supports an explanation of the Iraq war that the Bush administration dismisses as conspiracy theory — that its principal purpose was to secure vast oil reserves that would enable the United States to control production and to lower prices. ("Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath," an oil analyst said a couple of years ago. "You can't ask for better than that.") Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, tyranny, democracy and other public rationales were, Phillips says, simply ruses to disguise the real motivation for the invasion.

That's a whole lot more excerpting than I usually do, but the article demands it. For a conservative thinker widely thought of as a prophet, this is earth-shaking stuff. In addition to the war-for-oil argument, Phillips is willing to refer to the Christian right as an American Taliban, their votes gleefully courted by the Bushies, who repay the most fanatical of would-be theocrats with increased influence over our society.

Hopefully, it will mean more Republicans with brains abandoning the neo-fascists who have taken over their party and openly speaking out against them. Maybe Reagan's famous phrase can be modified: "Never speak ill of a fellow Republican, but get the money-grubbers, the war-mongers, and the fundamentalist kooks the hell out of DC." I admit it needs a little work.