Feb 25, 2009

The Party of Beavis and Butthead

In all of my classes today, we've been discussing Obama's first speech to Congress and the Republican response by gov. Jindal. The two men delivered two very different views on the role of government. Obviously one was a much better messenger but the point of their differences should not be missed. I now think that they both are addressing a different audience. If Jindal and the conservatives think this kind of idiotic appeal works, I hope they keep using it. I wouldn't be surprised if the hard-core conservatives thought Jindal scored big... they thought the same about Sarah Palin!

On the other hand, Obama must win his bet, that is, like FDR, he has to show that sensible government can be a powerful means for improving the lives of most Americans. The conservatives have opposed every single worthwhile policy that today we take for granted and don't want to give up. Social security, medicare, seat belts, collective bargaining (unions), and electrification--just to name a few. If Obama passes a meaningful health care reform, it will further limit the conservative appeal and reduce their maneuvering space . Likewise with immigration reform--Latinos have been voting Democratic by 3-1. If this group solidifies behing the Dems, there will be a new political realignment that can last generations.

Last November, the Economist published an article, Ship of Fools, referring to the Republican party.

The Republicans lost the battle of ideas even more comprehensively than they lost the battle for educated votes, marching into the election armed with nothing more than slogans. Energy? Just drill, baby, drill. Global warming? Crack a joke about Ozone Al. Immigration? Send the bums home. Torture and Guantánamo? Wear a T-shirt saying you would rather be water-boarding. Ha ha. During the primary debates, three out of ten Republican candidates admitted that they did not believe in evolution...

..The Republican Party’s divorce from the intelligentsia has been a while in the making. The born-again Mr Bush preferred listening to his “heart” rather than his “head”. He also filled the government with incompetent toadies like Michael “heck-of-a-job” Brown, who bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina. Mr McCain, once the chattering classes’ favourite Republican, refused to grapple with the intricacies of the financial meltdown, preferring instead to look for cartoonish villains. And in a desperate attempt to serve boob bait to Bubba, he appointed Sarah Palin to his ticket...

The public seems to be supporting the president, and a sizeable majority wants Obama to pursue his policies with or without Republican support. As we've seen before the election, there are some noticeable trends in American society. There are majorities that support more regulation, a stronger social safety net, an active government for the commonwealth, and 7 in 10 Americans would favor the government's influence over the health care system in an attempt to reduce costs and expand coverage!

When liberalism's revolutionary ideas broke the Old Regime, and with the American political experiment (post-war of independence), the government was seen as a threat to liberty. For thousands of years, the government was controlled by the aristocracy, the very few who had ascribed status. But, with an evolving political system, and changing conditions, the liberals realized that the government can be "re-captured." Of, by, for, the people means a government where the people can participate in, that it relies on popular consent, and it operates for the benefit of all. We progressives expect the government to empower and protect--with an expanded definition of these two words.

UPDATE, 2/26/09
Wait, there's more. In their own words....

The Conservatives are having their annual get-together at CPAC. I hope more Americans paid attention to this gathering, because the conservative parade is very interesting and clearly show their core beliefs. I wrote this post a couple years ago, but not much has changed since then. In 2007, the cons' CPAC took place after a severe beating of the GOP at the polls (Nov. 2006). It's the same situation this year. The more the lose, the more bitter and extreme they get. This regressive party must be pushed aside and a newer, more modern, should take its place--much like some of the (western & northern) European conservative parties.