requiem for the Rockefellers
When I was a kid, the Republican Party stood for two things: greed and Cold War hawkishness. That is no longer the case, and the rejection of the financial bailout plan by House Republicans today confirms it.
Ronald Reagan came to power in 1980 by luring religious and racist conservatives into supporting deregulation and tax policies that benefitted the rich. Logically, the Republican coalition never made any sense. Entrepreneurs and people in business depend on ambition, ideas, innovation, science, technology, and so on. They tend to value talent, education, and the willingness to overturn tradition when something new and risky dangles the possibility of greater profits before their greedy eyes. Religious conservatives are the opposite. At their worst, they elevate tradition over innovation, fear over science, and the narrow narcissism of 'small-town values' over education and cosmopolitanism. And let's not forget that they profess a religion full of prohibitions against usury. The party leaders who hatched this coalition of opposites were strategic geniuses, but now the party is over.
Mike Huckabee was the sign of things to come. His presidential campaign of earlier this year was exciting because, had he won the Republican nomination, it would have torn the party apart. Here was a conservative, small-state Republican who appeared ready to follow Jesus's populist gesture of overturning the money-lenders' table. His candidacy represented an emergency to the Bush Republicans and the coalition that kept them in power.
The rich-religious Republican coalition finally ended today. Today's 777-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new record, and Wall Street knows who is to blame: the Republicans in the House of Representatives who rejected the Paulson plan because bailing out 'the Wall Street elite' violates their insane ideology.
The Rockefeller Republicans, what was left of them, were already becoming Obama Republicans. Now I wonder if they will even stay in the Republican Party much longer. People in business know that homophobia, fanaticism, anti-science, and anti-elitism are bad for business. Their tolerance for conservative excess has expired.
That the Republican Party will soon be little more than a regional cabal of conservative anti-elitist fanatics is good for the Democrats but bad for the country. Today, September 29, 2008, we are all in the clutches of the most militantly ignorant political faction that Republican machinations have spawned: men and women of zeal who know nothing of economics but believe in giving the 'elites' their comeuppance. These maniacs will bring the republic and the national economy crashing down in order to teach the rest of us a lesson in responsibility and the magic of the market.
During the past seven years of misrule by Bush and Cheney, I have had frequent recourse to these famous lines from Yeats's poem 'The Second Coming':
'The best lack all conviction, while the worstLittle did I know that the worst was yet to come. Whatever their misgivings about the Paulson bailout plan, Democrats have had to make common cause with Bush and Cheney against an even graver threat: the economic suicide that Bush's former shock troops stand poised to visit on all of us. Now we will all reap what the Republican 'geniuses' have sown.
Are full of passionate intensity.'