A couple of days ago, I was enjoying a visit with two friends at Starbucks and a well-dressed man in passing, said hello. On his way out he commented offhand about the “nightmarish health care bill” that just passed the US House. He was afraid he’d lose his Medicare, and hated the idea of socialized medicine. Who’d a thunk it?
Never to miss a slice-of-life opportunity, we engaged him in conversation to find out what makes his brand of patriotism tick. The standard tea-bagger fare followed, indeed, our gourmet coffee aficionado had not only made pilgrimage to Washington DC for the Glenn Beck 9/12 event, but had dropped everything last week to attend the anti-health care bill “press conference” on the steps of Capitol Hill.
This rally saw House Republicans standing in front of a crowd holding signs saying, “National Socialist Healthcare, Dachau, Germany, 1945” — and actor Jon Voight asking of Obama, “Could it be he has had 20 years of subconscious programming by Reverend Wright to damn America?” This programming, of course, has the President ushering America toward some red-hued horizon, socialism uber alles.
From our Starbucks comrade we heard how America’s health care was the best in the world, we shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, why would people from all around the world fly here to see a doctor? I said just because some people fly around in Lear Jets or G5s, doesn’t mean it would be fair to judge the US transportation system by the actions of those who can afford chartered aircraft. Yes, rich people from around the world come to the US to get top-tier care. But the only equitable approach, if we’re trying to measure the overall quality of our system, is to judge the average experience of US patients, and those numbers clearly show that we are not the best in the world, and that Americans are being fleeced at double the cost other Western industrialized nations pay for their health care. Our system is infected with a culture of profiteering that actually translates into a 45,000 a year body count. It’s immoral and incumbent upon the citizens of our nation to protect the health of our national family by addressing the callous and inhumane nature of our current health care system.
But I digress. This is about Dobbs and Palin for 2012! Lou Dobbs just quit CNN, and Palin’s about to embark upon her “Going Rogue” book tour. Several outlets have reported Dobbs considering a Presidential bid, possibly as an independent, certainly his comments allude to a potential candidacy of some sort,
“Some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem-solving, as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day, and to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible.”
There’s a few websites attempting to recruit Dobbs like http://loudobbs4president.com/ or http://www.loudobbsforpresident.org/ — activists related to the Minuteman Project seem to be behind these early efforts at Dobbs 2012, supporting his outspoken positions on illegal immigration.
Maybe Dobbs should team up with Palin for an indie-hit not seen since the likes of Ross “giant suckin’ sound” Perot?
If so, this would be a gift to Democrats and indicative of the last gasps of an obsolete Grand Old Party, emphasizing–old. In a two-party system, if an independent with real legs springs up, it invariably will benefit one of the major parties. In the case of an independent tea-bagger candidacy, this would mean skimming five or ten points off the Republican candidate dooming them electorally.
What’s an interesting dynamic in all this, are the right wing rabble-rousing cheerleaders like Limbaugh and Beck, et al. They don’t have to articulate a message that communicates an inclusive political mindset, in fact, most of their rhetoric sensationalizes — because its show biz — stereotypes — because its show biz — stokes fear — because its show biz, you get the point. Their model is entertainment parked in a political vehicle, ministering to a minority of folks verging on xenophobic affliction, deathly afraid their conception of “homeland” has been stolen away; they are losing their country, and are freaked out about it. Problem is, the right wing media putsch does nothing to build the inclusive consensus necessary for broad-based electoral victory.
Newspapers are dropping like flies, people are increasingly gravitating toward free on-line material (like here at Show Me Progress), and consequently, the sense of any national frame of reference developed through professional journalism is becoming a thing of the past. This further polarizes the views of isolated communities of interest, like the tea-baggers. They are then subjected to the all too entertaining flamboyance of Beck and Limbaugh — which solidifies their boutique worldviews — and voila, you have a prescription for GOP crash-and-burn. Remember Beck and Limbaugh need not build broad support, they can laugh all the way to the bank with 5%.
Ironically, some of the negative aspects of excessive consumerism, greed and profiteering are folding back upon themselves through shows like Beck’s and Limbaugh’s, meaning, because they can profit off of their fear-mongering, and some are so enamored and titillated by this type of rhetoric, it becomes a politically self-defeating process in the end. The repeated pounding by these show biz ideologues reinforces extremist and fringe views, literally creating a political train wreck in slow motion — there’s no “compassionate” in this conservatism, a former Republican mantra that successfully brought in votes. This retro-conservatism, is more a racial-conservatism, if Beck’s and Limbaugh’s arguments are so strictly ideological, pro-Constitution and so forth, why is the tea-bagger movement largely only appealing to southern white males?
Republicans have not succeeded at messaging to minorities, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, non-Christians, constituencies growing as a percentage of voters every day. If the tea-baggers continue to heed the call of talk radio demogogues or forward an independent candidacy like that of Palin or Dobbs, we will all witness the last gasps of the old GOP.
GNP: Grand New Party?
What about a new conservative voice? One that wouldn’t dismiss the need for environmental “conservation” as another attempt to create one-world government? A new conservative voice rediscovering the indispensable check-and-balance on government largess and inefficiency?
Well, I couldn’t sign off this article without mentioning, as a progressive, I share many of the concerns that vanguard conservatives like Ron Paul talk about: fiscal policy, national deficit and debt, foreign policy and excessive militarism, institutionalized corruption and campaign finance reform to name a few.
These are systemic issues — enthroned facets of the Federal Government, expansionist limbs, so far, immune to political pruning:
• National Security Apparatus or “Military Industrial Complex”
• Buckley vs. Valeo – Supreme Court case calling money “free-speech”
• Lobbyists manipulating Congress to their own ends and against the people; nation
• “Corporate personhood” – the legal fiction that property is a person
These entrenched institutions are largely helmed by “lifers” — people working for decades — members of Congress or the White House are just considered “temps” compared to the juggernaut trajectory of the Establishment and the Elite that garner that vast majority of the benefits.
What’s similar about the vanguard-right and the vanguard-left, is that there’s a shared desire to prevent tyranny and despotism; this is a quintessential American characteristic.
• The tea-baggers and GOP regulars are unsettled and worried about excessive governmental power that encroaches upon freedom and liberty.
• Progressives are concerned about increasing multi-national conglomerate power wielded globally and dictating to the nations below, destructive to human rights and the environment.
There’s more common ground here, between the vanguard-left and vanguard-right, than meets the eye. Certainly, when transnational corporations collude with governments, well, that might even create a multi-trillion dollar bailout someday. Hmm.
Professor Howard Zinn, in his cardinal work, “A People’s History of the United States”, talks about the “prospect.. for times of turmoil, struggle, but also inspiration”, and offers a vision of what it would take to rid the nation of persistent ills.
“In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, transport and communications workers, garbage men and firemen. These people-the employed, the somewhat privileged-are drawn into alliance with the elite. They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls…
…There is a chance that such a movement could succeed in doing what the system itself has never done-bring about great change with little violence. This is possible because the more of the 99 percent that begin to see themselves as sharing needs, the more the guards and the prisoners see their common interest, the more the Establishment becomes isolated, ineffectual.”
Throughout our history, the movement to upturn politics as usual through populism has tried to knock on many doors to find the way. Whether from the left or right side of the political spectrum, substantive change has always been allusive, the Establishment masterful at compromising and marginalizing efforts for reform at every turn. The breakthrough needed to connect activists from all sides of the electoral field, is in releasing tired red-team, blue-team antics that produce a lot more circus than results.
What our nation needs is the rebirth of the statesman point-of-view, looking to synthesize the best philosophies available; a third way. This transpartisan ideal may sound fanciful, but with the right compass rose, America can navigate through the constellation of challenges that have emerged on her horizon; and the guiding principles of focusing on the future, what works and where we’re going, may be successful as a radical center approach to move us past the “I’m right, you’re wrong” Superbowl-like triviality of American politics today.
Stay tuned for another riveting Facebook update from Sarah Palin.