Dobbs and Palin for President 2012: last gasps of obsolete GOP

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 or — 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.

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  • DJ

    Wow, Byron– I can’t argue with your conclusion, but the road you take getting their pretty much dismisses the concerns of half the country– the half outside the coastal urban areas.

    To start with, what you call “retro-conservative,” I call “neo-liberal.” The GOP has been made irrelevant because they’ve adopted (and adapted) a twisted version of the classic liberal platform: bigger government, more taxes, more debt, and more intrusion into personal liberty. Sure their “equality” applies only to corporations, and their intended “utopia” has a specific religious bent. But it’s liberalism just the same.

    If you’re wondering why folks in red states blame the Dems for their woes, it’s in part because it looks a lot like the Dems co-opted the GOP. And as the Dems have moved to the center, it looks more and more like it’s one big party– being thrown at the American people’s expense! People out here vote GOP because they desperately hope that GOP still stands for something, even though they don’t really believe it– many of my friends in LA vote Dem for the same reason.

    I commend you for noting the difference between conservative Ron Paul and the more powerful neocons– many progressives don’t. I’m not a fan myself, but I don’t think he’s the ultra-neocon wacko many on the Left do.

    As for the teabaggers, in a single sentence you’ve dismissed them as racist southerners. There may be many southern white males who support them– it wouldn’t suprise me, where else would such folks go? But in my neck of the woods, a red state far north and west of the Mason Dixon that supports gay rights but hates government intervention, you’ll find a majority support the teabaggers too– male and female. They aren’t racists (for the most part), they’re just disgusted. But they’re not going to give you much of an ear if you call them southern rednecks.

    And they see themselves vindicated: as California crashes, as the LA Times trumpets the failure of the high-tax, high-service model on its own terms, as those too-big-to-fail banks turn around and screw the very government that saved them (out of OUR money), folks here see the inevitable victory of conservatism– despite the liberal and neo-liberal party politicians of both wings.

    You’re right: rural folks DO have a lot of common ground with progressives– and as the corporate-funded Dems continue their own juggernaut into irrelevance right behind the corporate-funded GOP, I bet you’ll find that you have a lot of common ground with them, too. But you won’t find it wielding stereotypes.

    Remember: half the country lives outside the liberal coastal cities. That’s 50% of the electorate. Calling them racist southerners isn’t going to win you any friends. You may disagree with them, but you dismiss them at your peril.

    As to Palin et al: as you say, it’s show business. People watch “reality” TV even though they know it’s fake. Go figure.

    • DJ, I think you’re wearing your heart on sleeve a little too much, too hypersensitive, as if I’ve crossed some unseen line in pointing out simple demographic statistics. I didn’t call tea-baggers “racist southerners” — what I pointed out was an analysis from the back door, an inverse dialectic approach.

      When one looks at the future of any particular political movement, there’s value in understanding which constituencies are in play or not. Equally so, there’s value in asking why certain constituencies resonate more or less with any political ideology. You don’t disagree with this – and yet you had a problem with me exploring these questions.

      You say making obvious observations, like “hey the sky is blue, right?” is dismissive and insulting, please. I’m merely pointing out the various constituencies that are in play here.

      The tea-baggers like to think they are ideologically pure, and that there’s nothing else at play, pro-Constitution, limited government, etc.

      The question I posit, is if it’s all about ideology, than why is it not receiving significant support from a wider range of constituencies? This is a valid question, and not novel either.

      I’m a co-founder of an organization that is a pro-Constitution organization,, and we have a very specific mission to not promote individual amendment proposals, hence we have a broad selection among our membership from all political backgrounds: Libertarians, Greens, Dems, Repubs, Conservatives and Progressives.

      I’ve seen firsthand where non-partisan ideological purity works and have organized around that transpartisan principle. Tea-baggers, on the other hand, have not made significant headway with folks from across the political spectrum, or Asians-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, women, LGBT, Jews, Muslims, etc. — on and on.

      So to say that my pointing out this fact as an obvious political vulnerability is “strictly verboten” and done “at my own peril”, is probably the kind of political-correctness attitude that tea-baggers themselves rail against.

      DJ, don’t shoot the messenger just because the numbers aren’t emotionally satisfying; it’s a political article, not a pigeon-hole fest.

      And being political, I’m just discussing observations, numbers and trends. Fact is, more men are GOP, more women are Dems. With the tea-bagger phenom, the numerical contrasts become more stark, and more regionally centric. I live in a tea-bagger stronghold – St. Louis, Missouri. I know there are folks all over the country that share these concerns, or feel that Barack Obama is a socialist, etc. But what I’m talking about is where this movement is capable of winning, and with what constituencies. And, I know it’s hard to hear, but white men and the south are where the tea-bagger phenomenon thrives – I’m not saying they’re racist, that’s just where the numbers are.

      I share many of their concerns of have NO problem saying as much. Check out this article and radio interview which spins off the emergence of the tea-bagger movement.

      It’s clear to me, as I mentioned in my article, that a Grand New Party must grapple with the issue of appealing to a majority of voters, both current voters and emerging ones. The new conservatives must effort to get on the right side of the demographic trends occurring in our nation, this is simple politics. If the G O P fails to cast a big tent, it will only further marginalize itself in the long term – you don’t agree with this? Of course you do.

      So, DJ, pardon me for disagreeing with your disagreement, but when you say that I’ve “pretty much dismissed the concerns of half the country– the half outside the coastal urban areas.” — and yet, point blank cited a laundry list of many of their exact concerns, namely:

      * “fiscal policy”,
      * “national deficit and debt”
      * “foreign policy”
      * “institutionalized corruption”

      In other words, a Federal Government that is over-reaching and arrogantly serving select interests as opposed to the people or the Constitution, your criticism misses the literal content of my piece — so poppycock.

      I was at a health care rally yesterday in front of Rep. Clay’s office in St. Louis congratulating him on his vote to stop the inhumane profiteering occurring with Big Insurance. One tea-bagger showed up with the requisite hand held HD cam, trying to stir-up any potential youtube moments, and started talking about how there’s nothing in the Constitution about health care.

      My problem, DJ, with the tea-baggers claiming ideological purity, in regard to pro-Constitutional arguments, is that they haven’t done their homework, and like you, claiming I’m accusing tea-baggers of “racism” because it’s emotionally satisfying to ignore very real vulnerabilities that lay at the heart of the GOP and tea-party movement, they would rely on a cursory reading of the US Constitution as some sort of trump card. Constitutional Law show differently.

      In a satirical letter from G. Washington, these arguments about health-care not in the Constitution are reduced to absurdity. Not to mention the general welfare clauses in the preamble and Article 1 Section 8. If there’s ever a case for “general welfare” – “general health care” is like, what, an exact match?

      Even so, if the Constitutional arguments was valid here, well, read what G. Washington had to say on the matter 😉

      “I have great applause for the young soldier, budding barrister of the Supreme Law of the Land, our beloved Constitution; the convention of which I presided over in the sweltering summer of 1787 in Philadelphia.

      Most assuredly, our nation has grown and evolved over the years since I served Her — in many ways I do not even recognize the breadth of power She has assumed, both privately and publically. One thousand military installations circumferentially placed in locations around the world, both precipitous and safely removed from imminent threat? Unthinkable in my day. But it is a new day, indeed.

      Having confessed that I am hardly familiar with the modern procession of public enterprise, let alone intimately expert, I would encourage the youngster to consider the ramifications of what he is suggesting. He cites that for Congress to promote the health of our citizens is clearly beyond the purview of Constitutional mandate. With the heavenly and magickal science of medicine today, it is sad to see a citizen suggest that this favor of God should only be accessible to those of means and wealth.

      In America, we always envisioned the favors of science and knowledge to apply to all, and not be solely reserved for the aristocracy or monarchy. Libraries of books in old Europe were not known by a nation’s yeomen, but as Madison said, if a people intend to be their own self-governors, they must wield the power that knowledge brings.

      As our young soldier, bless his service, has intimated that the general welfare clause should only apply to those specific powers enumerated in Article 1 Section 8, and not promote any health care plan, I would have him consider the totality of his suggestion.

      After a cursory examination of programs birthed over our two hundred years since my office, that could be construed as unconstitutional and beyond his specific and subjective interpretation of the enumerated powers entrusted to Congress, I have compiled a list of a few that would have to be repealed if we, as a national family, were to heed his admonishment and direction.

      ~Repeal Social Security and Railroad Retirement.
      ~Repeal Medicare and Medicaid funds.
      ~Dept of Education abolished.
      ~Repeal Income Tax and the Federal Reserve Act.
      ~The Voting Rights Act should be repealed.
      ~Federal Election Campaign Act and the Federal Election Commission
      ~Repeal all federal campaign finance laws
      ~Abolish the Department of Energy
      ~A purging of all lands, National Parks, etc. which are held by the federal government without authorization by the Constitution.
      ~Repeal of federal wetlands legislation
      ~Repeal of the federal Endangered Species Act.
      ~Repeal of United States participation in UN programs such as UNESCO, Man and the Biosphere, and the UN Council on Sustainable Development.
      ~Repeal of the Biodiversity Treaty, the Convention on Climate Control.
      ~Repeal Hate Crime legislation.

      I trust that cooler and calmer heads will prevail as we continue to evolve the experiment of republicanism embodied in these United States of America, lest, as we empty the dirty waters of a used bath, the baby will have also been dispatched.

      G. Washington.”

      • DJ

        Demographics? Yeah, I’m a bit surprised you described the teabaggers as predominantly southerners, when most folks I know here in Utah (including the handful of Dems) would identify themselves as teabaggers.

        I never mentioned ideological purity. The teabbagers I know don’t believe in it. Of course, they’re not the ones making speeches on TV– those are just politicians looking for an opening. The folks I know who are putting teabags in the mail don’t pay much attention to that. They comprise the majority here in Utah, and apparently neighboring states as well. They don’t show up at pro-health-care reform rallies wielding camcorders, because we don’t have those rallies here (or at least we haven’t had one yet).

        But there’s no ideological purity– there’s no ideology at all– just a common belief that GOP and Dem alike have been screwing them and the country. (A female CPA I know in Los Angeles who hated the Bush administration nevertheless sent Obama a teabag.)

        If you want to limit the teabaggers to ideologues, then it becomes a much smaller subset, and much more fringelike. And perhaps that is exactly the point– there’s a vast unheard segment of Americans who will follow that fringe only if the status quo (GOP and Dem) continues to ignore them. Yes, they’re mostly white. If you hadn’t noticed, our farmers ARE mostly white, and rural areas of the north and west tend to have less ethnic variety than cities. As for male/female, out here I don’t see much gender bias.

        And as for ignoring them at your peril, I simply meant (and I’m shocked that you read more into it) that if you dismiss them you lose half the vote. That would seem to me to be a no-brainer, but I’m amazed at how many Dems can’t grasp it. As Joe Bageant points out in “Deer Hunting with Jesus,” the GOP won this half of the country not because of their ideology, but because the GOP were the only ones to show up!

        You say the GOP has to come to grips with reality or risk becoming irrelevant– and yes, I agree, and said so in my first response. But so do the Dems, who still can’t grasp why most folks in 80% of the country’s land mass won’t vote for them. We’ve got two irrelevant parties– no wonder the only thing they hate more than each other is the possibility of a third party.

        As to my apparent sensitivity, the only reason I care is because I’d like to see a platform of sanity reach out to my rural home. Too often people with a great deal to offer dismiss my neighbors as illogical racist bigots of the vast rural wasteland. They’re not– and you probably know that. But they identify more with the teabaggers than with anyone else right now, so anyone hoping for change might try to understand why.

        For the record, I despise what the modern GOP stands for– but the Dems can’t seem to make it past the city limits.

  • Neither the Minuteman Project, nor I, have officially endorsed Lou Dobbs or Sarah Palin for president in the 2012 race. However, given their widespread appeal to a hefty cross-section of the non-elitist electorate, including a very passionate segment of the “average Joe and Jane” taxpayer, Dobbs and Palin appear to have a formidable pool of supporters.

    I still like former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who also appears to have an influential wave of supporters.

    While the Minuteman Project participants may be a source of the support for Dobbs and Palin, it is not the only source of support for them.

    Not withstanding President Obama’s popularity, I do not think he will succeed to a second term in office. After all, he is a graduate of two of the most intolerant, anti-free speech educational institutions in the United States today: Columbia University in NYC, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Ma.

    Ironically, segments of the liberal left, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have recently chastised these “former” beacons of free expression of ideas and speech for their hostility to that cornerstone principle of our Constitution.

    As Obama continues to attempt to silence his opponents, mostly conservatives, he will steadily lose support for reelection, especially from those who usually “sit on the fence.” He only needs to lose the support of five percent of the electorate to lose the election.

    That being said, who will be his replacement? An Independent like Dobbs, or a credible Republican like Palin or Huckabee?

    But, in all fairness, I have to admit that I also think a Democratic congressman named Heath Schuler from South Carolina might have achance at the White House. Being a registered Republican myself, that is quite a compliment for a Democrat. 🙂

    Jim Gilchrist, President and Founder, The Minuteman Project

  • woody

    Is it just me, or does anyone else feel a huge pang of “WTF” when someone who’s on Medicare (the second most socialized medical program in the country) proclaims they’re against “socialized medicine”, and backs that with the fear of losing their socialized medical plan?

    This is not uncommon, the hypocrisy of the infuriated conservative (tea-bagers included).

    There was recently a local article on the tax cellular companies charge to cover a federally funded program to give cell phones to the poor with a minimal plan (68 minutes per month). One of the respondents was very upset about paying the tax, saying it was almost enough for her to give up her phone, if she didn’t need it to arrange for all her doctors appointments. Turns out I knew this woman, she lives down the road from me. She’s a 80-ish widow who never worked a day in her life and is living on her late husbands savings, pension and retirement benefits. She never bore or raised children in either of her marriages, and never worked, though she volunteered in several political efforts in her day. So she’s collecting on a system she never paid into, getting a free ride all the way, but is infuriated that she’s paying $1.15 a month to help some poor person have a phone. (Did I mention she happily proclaims she “voted for Bush all 4 times”.)

    Don’t get me wrong. I think there needs to be a balance of personal responsibility for the choices one makes. But what I see is those fighting the hardest to shut down social services are people that rely on other social services, either directly or indirectly. Many of those at the rallies that I’ve talked to were able to go because they were unemployed, or on some form of disability. Some took time off work to go, forgetting that the reason the have paid time off is because it was fought for by unions, which they now despise and blame for just about everything.

    I have no problems with holding an opinion or expressing it. But when you express a credo that’s akin to “do as I say, not as I do”, I’m not going to hold your opinion in high regard. So far, most of what I’ve seen out of the conservative right, and it’s supporters, is just that: Blatant hypocrisy and contempt for others that don’t have it as well as they do.

    I also find great irony that some think that dismissing tea-baggers is alienating the poor white and labeling them “trailer trash”. It’s more often the tea-baggers that become irrational, abusive and start name-calling when asked to sit down and discuss their view point. I dismiss most of them because in almost every instance when I’ve met one they’ve been loud mouthed, self-righteous bigots, regardless of their race or income status. Their arguments are regurgitated sound bites from right-wing radio, with no rational independent thought. And when confronted with actual questions, and asked to logically think about or explain their position, or justify their assumptions with actual facts, they can’t. Rather they become irate, confrontational, violent, and/or verbally abusive. In short, I call them as I’ve seen them. And everything I’ve seen has shown little in the way of logical thought or reasoning, and a lot in the way of blindly following a right-wing pundit.

    • All good points. Will repsond more later, in transit now…

      I see the teabaggers as the fringe, like the hardcore Marxists are fringe of antiwar movement. There’s lots of moderates in the middle who aren’t extremists.

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