The Republican Party is no longer a party of substance. It is defined by what it is against, which is pretty much everything, rather than what it is for. What it is for seems to be a Constitution that never existed, in that they insist it is based on biblical principles (it is not) and a Bible with which they lack even a passing familiarity. Republicans respond to defeat by doubling down on the strategies, rhetoric, and platforms that led to those defeats, and seem to believe that minor cosmetic changes – such as more aesthetically pleasing messengers – will lull voters into thinking their patriarchal and authoritarian rhetoric is actually about freedom and liberty rather than the suppression of those ideals.
Chris Christie, who had positioned himself to be the Great White Savior of 2016, now mired in the fallout of his self-made Bridge-gate scandal, seems to think clever quips will make him relevant again, and tough enough to inspire loyalty even from the Tea Party that despises him. For a much-needed distraction, he chose an easy target – for Republicans: income inequality. “You want income equality? That’s mediocrity,” Christie bellowed at the Economic Club of Chicago last week. Typically Republican, rather than finding something he is for, he found yet another something he is against.
Is it possible for a Republican these days to be for anything? Don’t hold your breath. Christie’s angle seems to be a suggestion – not a new one mind you – that liberals aren’t really Americans. Liberals misunderstand the American spirit, which, as he defines it is, “How do I get a little more?” I think it is Christie who doesn’t get it. The 1 percent aren’t about getting a “little” of anything. They want a lot. They want it all. The 99 percent, whatever Christie says or believes (and post-Bridge-gate, who can tell the difference?), want income equality.
Christie shows how out of lockstep he is with America – another typical Republican failing – by claiming that, “I don’t think the American people want income equality. What they want is income opportunity.” Thing is, Americans increasingly lack that opportunity thanks to the same policies that have denied them that equality. It’s hard to get ahead without a living wage, without medical insurance. What Republicans want isn’t opportunity for anyone, but “station keeping” – you stay at your station in the alley and I’ll stay at mine here in my penthouse.
Laughably, Christie thinks this is Christie being pragmatic. This is Christie focusing on “winning the election,” as he put it. “Parties tend to become pragmatic when they’re powerless. It’s time for us to get pragmatic.” So that was Christie being pragmatic, making like the catastrophically popular Mitt Romney.
Maybe Christie thinks being as clueless as Mitt Romney makes him presidential material. I’m not sure what he thinks public displays of arrogance, dishonesty, and ignorance are going to accomplish but hey, he will find out soon enough. And, after all, he can’t do worse than Romney. Maybe Christie can somehow find more working and middle-class people to diss than did Mitt. That should make him incredibly popular…in his own mind, at least. I’m sure Mitt felt relevant too. David Axelrod told MSNBC after Christie’s chat with the Economic Club that, “In Christie’s mind he clearly still is a presidential candidate until further notice.”
I don’t doubt it for a minute. Cuban anarchist Ted Cruz thinks he has a stranglehold too on an imperial presidency he loves to deride, and even other Republicans don’t like a guy who is, even for a Republican, just a bit too blatant about how much he loves himself. Fans of the Cuban Anarchist can say that the Tea Party loves itself some Ted Cruz (with Rand Paul, he topped a survey of Teabaggers at TheTeaParty.net) but the fly in the ointment is that Americans don’t love the Tea Party. They hate it. And ultimately, the Tea Party isn’t Christie’s problem – his problem is named Hilary.
Clearly, Republicans continue to learn nothing from…well, themselves. Since 2008 they have done everything in their power to bring the Obama presidency to a standstill, and America along with it. They have fallen in the polls, they have lost to elections, and become, in the process, less popular than the plague. It is difficult to believe that there is any pragmatism anywhere to be found on the right, or that Chris Christie is the one to bring it if there is not. In the GOP of the 21st century, there is only clueless and more clueless. All they have really been accomplishing is digging their own mass grave.
That’s bad enough, but that last shovel full of dirt comes from the American public, which is not fooled by Republican rhetoric. Or perhaps the last shovel full comes from Republicans themselves, who have convinced themselves that we like hearing what they say as much as they like hearing themselves say it. All they need to do, they think, is to smile more, and tell us that they’re just being pragmatic when they continue to repeat the same old things they’ve been saying since 2008. But if the Republican Party does not know shit from Shinola, the American people do.
Just don’t expect any epiphanies from Chris Christie or his fellow Republicans when the 2014 midterms slap them in the face. If I didn’t already despise it so much, I’d say you at least have to admire their dogged perseverance, but I really don’t like them lifting their legs in our faces and to be honest (since they won’t), that’s about all they have left, except maybe to tell us, since we didn’t buy it when they said it was raining, that it’s gold falling from heaven.
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.