Republican woes heading into 2016 are both amusing and highly predictable. Few of us back in 2012 imagined any other outcome. Yet Steven Benen at MSNBC, perhaps because the mainstream media hesitates to say anything negative about the GOP, suggested last week that it has only now become apparent that Republican woes are less about their nomination process and more about their platform.
Plainly put, that their base – and their candidate – are batsh*t crazy.
In fact, rather than calling Reince Priebus’ plan of attack for 2016 idiotic, Benen called it “well-intentioned.” Well-intentioned, I suppose, if your plan all along was to completely misread the situation and – as Republicans are wont to do – fix a problem that doesn’t exist rather than addressing real problems.
As Benen explains it, what was supposed to happen was that “Republicans would curtail the number of debates, choose moderators satisfying to the party, front-load the nominating process, and effectively stack the deck in favor of established, electable candidates.”
That assumes, of course, electable candidates be in the deck. None are.
What is funny about fixing nonexistent problems is that they did it to themselves this time, rather than to the rest of us. Great hilarity has ensued, and we will likely still be laughing on Election Day. The next morning will be a day of rest, because we will be laughed out at yet another display of wanton incompetence.
In fact, until the GOP realizes that it is their thinking that is the problem, this will continue election cycle after election cycle with no end in sight. The old saw tells us that stupid people are unable to tell that they are stupid, because they’re stupid. It takes a wise man to know, like Socrates, that he knows nothing, and that it is this admission of ignorance that makes you truly wise.
The GOP, unfortunately for conservatives, has fallen victim to its own constructed narrative of an America that does not, and has never, existed, and which therefore can never be “taken back.” You can’t take back what you never had. And it shouldn’t take a Socrates to tell you so.
To be sure, ideology is to blame as well. Everyone has their own personal ideologies but these are vastly different both in type and in scale from what is afflicting the GOP. This is an ideology that has delegitimized all things outside itself.
After all, we have a guy who was born in the United States, Barack Obama, whom they are certain was not born in the United States, and a guy who wasn’t – Ted Cruz – whom they are equally certain was born in the United States.
They have not just one, but over a dozen candidates who think Americans are ready to throw immigrants to the sharks, by deporting them, by erecting a giant wall, or tracking them like FedEx packages. In fact, 65 percent of Americans favor doing something to make these people citizens.
We get Kim Davis, who, for not being allowed to act like a Nazi, says she is being treated like a Jew in Nazi Germany. Nor is hers the craziest utterance on the subject. If your jaw drops, it’s okay. You can’t make this stuff up.
This is what is really happening in Kentucky:
No one's being jailed for practicing her religion. Someone's being jailed for using the government to force others to practice her religion.
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) September 3, 2015
Yet Franklin Graham – that lesser son of a greater sire – insists that by imposing her religion on other people, the Rowan County clerk is “Fighting for religious freedom for all of us.”
You can’t say that without laughing, but you can bet there are conservative heads wagging like dogs in agreement as they read his words. They literally have no problem seeing the word “all” restricted to one group. In their world, this impossible calculus works.
What can you even say to misreads like that? It isn’t facts that inform their thinking. Facts don’t enter into it. It is ideology, an ideology which tells them that anything of the political LEFT is not legitimate. Conversely, everything of the right, no matter how illogical, contradictory, or unsupported by facts, must be legitimate.
I have a somewhat distant relation who has no insurance, either for himself or his family. He paid a penalty last year and intends to pay a penalty this year. The rub is that the penalty is more costly than the tax-effect of the subsidy he would receive on the exchange. He would rather lose more money and have no insurance than lose less money and have insurance – on principle, as he puts it.
As you can see, because this ideology does not reflect let alone embrace reality, it cannot connect with the ball. Think Sarah Palin demanding immigrants speak a language that does not exist.
It is as though the pitch being thrown is hurtling down the plate in another dimension. Republicans can’t see it; they can’t hit it. They are standing at the plate as the world represented by that ball moves on, right past them.
So they are horrified and outraged that we refuse to see their point, when the problem is not us, but them, and their demand that we do the impossible and subscribe to a fake reality only they are tuned into.
We, for our part, are by turns also outraged, or moved to hilarity as they dance to a tune only they can hear. It is a loss for the rest of us, because America needs a second, healthy political party, but an even greater loss for them, as they can never have their desires met, and worse, can never understand why.
Shakespeare could not have written a better tragedy than the one Republicans have created for themselves.
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.