Republican strategist Alex Castellanos took to a CNN op-ed to accuse the Democrats of extremism, asking “Are Democrats more extreme than the GOP?”
The answer seems obvious. No. But Castellanos seems to think refusing to bow to the demands of extortionists and economic terrorists makes you an extremist. That’s funny, because when the U.S. stands up as a nation and does what the Democrats are doing, it is seen as strength and something to be lauded rather than condemned.
But then Republican logic never fails to amaze; Castellanos’ thinking is in line with that of teapangelicals who say that standing up and saying to the Religious Right, “No, I won’t be persecuted,” makes the victim of persecution a persecutor.
Focusing on the outraged reactions of Democrats, Castellanos puts the focus not where it should be, on the facts, but on rhetoric:
Damn those extreme Republicans. President Obama and White House press secretary Jay Carney have found Republicans guilty of extortion and blackmail. Joe Biden, per a report in Politico, once christened Republicans as terrorists.
Liberals have led a media assault, calling the GOP anarchists, jihadists, “gun to head” hostage takers, and the political equivalent of the Taliban. White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer has likened Republicans to suicide bombers “with a bomb strapped to their chest.”
What could be more extreme?
His answer? “The Democratic Party.”
Using the tried and true tactic of painting the shutdown as the fault of both parties, Castellanos admits that, “True, the Ted Cruz wing in the House of Representatives is relentless, uncompromising and unmoved by practicality.”
Republicans, he says, fear fellow Republicans “getting to their right” but notes that Democrats do not fear a fellow Democrats “getting to their left” and he asks why this is. This is his Beckian setup to cast Barack Obama as an extreme leftist:
Let us count the reasons: Barack Obama has taken the Democratic Party left of Clinton. He left blue-dog, centrist Democrats to be punished for his sins and they were wiped out in the GOP’s 2010 Congressional landslide. All the while, the Internet has empowered and organized the party’s remaining and most extreme elements. The Democratic Party can’t go left. It is left, in entirety. They already occupy America’s left fringe.
Neat trick, isn’t it? Completely bypassing scientific studies that explain the workings of the conservative mind, its devotion to preconceived notions and reliance on cognitive dissonance, ignoring criticism of Obama from the extreme progressive left that Obama is really a Republican and no different in substance than George W. Bush, Castellanos arrives at the conclusion that Obama and the Democrats are already as far left as they can go.
And all he had to do was ignore all the facts!
Castellanos should really be hosting his own show on Fox News, where facts haven’t mattered for years.
Ignoring facts, Castellanos claims,
Bill Clinton’s New Democrats are dead. This is not Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party. Today’s Democratic Party belongs to Elizabeth Warren. It is the party that just nominated a Sandinista trainee who returned from Nicaragua with “a vision of unfettered leftist government” for mayor of New York City.
Bill Clinton’s New Democrats are dead? Is that why Bill Clinton worked his ass off to get Barack Obama elected? Why he regularly stands up in defense of Obama and his policies and just as regularly condemns Teddy and the Cruzers?
Bah. Just more facts, Castellanos seems to be saying. You can hear his snort of derision.
Once, Obama may have campaigned as a centrist, but that was long ago. He has since governed as an old school economic liberal from the ’60s. As Fred Thompson has noted, Barack Obama has been “George McGovern without the experience.” Obama’s answer to every economic challenge has been top-down. Our governing class knows best, he believes, especially since Washington’s elite now includes him.
You know Catellanos is reaching when he has to quote a Hollywood hack like Fred Thompson who is notable politically only for his own teabangelical extremism. Anyone to the left of Megyn Kelly is a card carrying member of the Communist Party. Ask Ann Coulter.
Undaunted by the world of facts, Castellanos goes on to pretend it is the Democrats who are unaware that times have changed:
If the world has changed in eight decades, our President hasn’t noticed. His view of government is cast from the bronze of Franklin Roosevelt and the ’30s. He puts our big, dumb, inflexible public sector at the top of American life, to mandate redistribution and prosperity.
Because the facts are, the New Deal got the U.S. out of the depression and the New Deal created a strong American economy by narrowing the gap between the richest and poorest Americans, an economy that has been weakened by Republican Gilded Age plutocrats reversing the New Deal and growing that gap. The facts are that since Eisenhower, the economy has been strongest under Democratic presidents. If Obama is continuing these policies it is because it works.
But Republicans don’t want it to work. Anything that does not further enrich the rich at the expense of the poor, it is evil.
Then, despite the inability of the Republicans to produce any idea at all beyond defunding or repealing or delaying Obamacare, any idea beyond simply saying “no” to everything Obama says, Castellanos says,
Still, an intellectually exhausted Democratic Party proposes nothing new. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying until you are $20 trillion in debt and failure litters your streets.
The rollout of the Obamacare website is but another symptom of an old, hierarchical bureaucracy incapable of keeping pace with the complexities of a modern, adaptive America. Healthcare.gov is the best old Washington can do, not the worst.
While our world transforms itself through revolutions in energy, technology and communication, the ideologists of the left stagnate. Barack Obama’s Democratic Party is intellectually exhausted. Their old Democratic Party has nothing up its sleeves but more of the same.
Castellanos is probably not aware of how close he is treading here to comedy gold.
But his belly-busting shtick goes on:
How our young President could only offer such dated ideas will be studied for decades. For now, we can mark candidate Obama’s transformation from agent of hope and change to defender of liberal calcification as one of the great sleight-of-hand tricks in political history.
With any luck, he will be the last President who tried to teach our dinosauric public sector to dance to the music of a new and adaptive era. Others, beyond Obama, will not expand but instead transform what we now pretend “governs” us. As for his legacy, today’s tweeters and texters will remember Barack Obama as the last President of the Industrial Age and once he is gone, there will be no cover for his party’s intellectual barrenness.
Obama will leave a Democratic Party epitomized by ancient ideas, radically positioned left of our political center. The political trouble Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush is nothing compared to what Obama has teed up for a future contender such as Hillary Clinton.
Castellanos won’t admit that his “new and adaptive era” is privatization of government, or to be more blunt and brutal, to turn government services over to grasping and greedy corporations to further the profits of rich Republican plutocrats. Talk about “ancient ideas”: This is not adaptive. This is a return to medieval thinking, where the average person exists as a tool to better the lives of the rich. There is nothing new and adaptive about it. Conservatism is about the status quo. It is not about adaptation.
Too, Castellanos thinks conservatism is our political center. It is liberalism, liberal ideas, a liberal revolution, that created the United States Constitution and the United States itself. Our political center has always been enshrined left of center. Egalitarianism is not a conservative virtue.
We’ve all laughed at the Republican conventions of 2008 and 2012, and for good reason. But Castellanos ignores the casting call taking place even now for the Republican convention of 2016 and ventures that, “The Democratic Party’s 2016 nomination process is going to look like the casting call for ‘One-Flew-Over-The Cuckoo’s Nest.'”
The 2016 nomination battle may be a fight between Elizabeth Warren, Governors Martin O’Malley and Deval Patrick, an unpolished pack of ideological duds and even a reinvigorated Dean, all vying to out-crazy each other and take the Democratic Party over a precipice. They’ll make the troupe that sought the 2012 GOP nomination look like the committee awarding the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Yes, he went there: Castellanos just compared sane liberals to the bat-shit crazy teabangelicals who have dominated the GOP in the post-Bush era.
“Which party is more extreme?” he asks again.
A Republican Party divided between 180 mainstream House members and 40 Ted Cruz mini-me’s? Or a Democratic Party united to preserve our fossilized, ineffective public sector?
A Republican Party advocating a path to fresh, natural, economic growth? Or a Democratic Party offering young voters the outdated economics of conformity, artificially imposed by Washington’s elites?
A Republican Party being driven to offer change? Or a Democratic Party united against it?
Entrepreneurs, start printing tie-died shirts now. They will be hot sellers at the next Democratic Convention. Both sides are in for an interesting ride, but for Democrats, it’s going to be an extreme 2016.
First of all, the Republican Party isn’t “divided” but controlled by 40 “Ted Cruz mini-me’s” and has been since Obama’s election in 2008. If there are 180 mainstream House members they seem unable, or unwilling, to unseat the economic terrorists in their midst. Castellanos can’t escape the fact that it is extremists who dominate Republican thinking these days.
Secondly Castellanos hasn’t – and can’t – demonstrate any evidence of this “path to fresh, natural, economic growth.” No such thing exists. Because conservatism is about maintenance of the status quo and by definition against change, it cannot exist. No amount of verbal acrobatics can turn liberals into conservatives and no amount of verbal acrobatics can turn conservatives into liberals. To fall back on a tautology, it is what it is.
And what it “is” is this: The Republican Party since 2008 had steadfastly refused to create one single job for the American people. The Republican Party has attempted to turn back the clock to days when no regulatory system existed to govern the behavior of corporations. The Republican Party has championed the idea that corporations are people, but strangely people – unlike actual people – who are somehow above the law.
Republicans want to sell the federal government to these corporations. They want to sell our highways to foreigners, they want to sell our National Parks They want to shut down the Department of Education and privatize education and they want to shut down the EPA and let corporations rape our air and our water. Castellanos may call this a “path to fresh, natural, economic growth” but it is not. It is the path to corporate tyranny unseen since the Gilded Age. It is a path to religious tyranny unseen since the Enlightenment. An attack on our freedoms unseen since the days of George III.
The GOP has abrogated responsibility to the American people by focusing instead on its attention on destroying President Obama, and in the process, America itself. Maybe to Castellanos that is “adaptive” thinking. I call it treason.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.