I WENT DOWN TO THE CROSSROADS...
2 MAY, 2009 © PIRATE JOE

                                    
    Ah, time for another screed. The title of this one is not as carelessly chosen as one might think. We now stand at many crossroads, but the one I wish to write about tonight concerns the future of America’s political parties.
    The Republican party is on particularly shaky ground at this point, and some are saying that it just may be the end. Maybe, yet maybe not. There are two things that are not in doubt, however: (1.)The Democrats will be the ones who make that decision.(2.) Don’t count the Republicans out just yet.  Remember Watergate? Republicans suffered just a four-year (one term) exile from the White House and returned triumphantly for a 12 year stint. One could argue that they are in considerably more trouble this time: the American people, heading into financial turmoil and sick to death of eight years of ruling class über allis, elected Barack Obama to bring them “change they could believe in” I voted for him, too. But will he deliver?
    The chessboard looks rather interesting now, with unexpected developments on both sides. Rush Limbaugh has, for all intents and purposes, taken over the Republican Party. He’s the bishop with a comanding view at the centre of the board backed up by a pawn: you can take him out, but you’ll lose your piece. Think twice. Mr. Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, found out the hard way, and is off to the side, captured and out of the game.
    Mr Limbaugh is effectively steering the party further to the right. That’s a big gamble right now, my prognosis is that Republicans will either win big or lose everything.

Scenario One:

The End of The GOP and Formation of “Party X”

Background:

    Rush Limbaugh has been working hard to take over the GOP, and turn it  further to the right in a paroxysm of Ayn Rand inspired ruling-class worship. This is Limbaugh’s real raison d’être: although if asked, I’m sure he would identify himself as a social conservative, his many (ex) wives and his love of opiates would suggest his approach to lifestyle choices is not exactly Sunday School inspired. No, Limbaugh’s job is to convince us all to believe that “dat man in de big plantation house is gwine to take cayah of us”, if only we make him even richer. Ronald Reagan named it “trickle-down economics”. Translation: make the rich richer and you’ll have better garbage to pick. Indeed. Oh, by the way: notice that the word is “trickle” not “flow”. We wouldn’t want the riff-raff getting ahead too quickly now, would we?
    One of Limbaugh’s most defining moments occurred last winter when the big bank CEO’s were called down to testify before Congress about the economic crisis (which those same CEO’s  engendered). Limbaugh was “outraged” that these folks were being made to “grovel” before Congress. He bellowed, screamed, panted and whined, while his blood pressure made a respectable run at the Guinness World Book of Records. Obviously, Limbaugh was freaked that anyone from the Ruling Class should be thus treated. You or I can be summoned before Congress if some issue should arise, but the Ruling Class should be above such things: (Remember, Dick Cheeny just ignored Congress). Limbaugh thundered on to make his philosophical outlook as unambiguous as possible: “when we return to power....and we WILL....it will be the union bosses that we’ll drag before Congress....and when it comes time to fire people, union workers will be the first to go!” (Of course, Rush; how dare the riff-raff organise to secure their rights. We all know that they deserve nothing more than what the ruling class deigns to give them.) Interesting point: Mr. Limbaugh used the word “we”. To what office has he been elected?

A Slight Digression:

    While we’re on the subject, let’s take a quick overview of how we have faired at the hands of the ruling class over the years. We’ll start with the (post-Renaissance) beginning of the modern era, (leaving juicy  little tidbits such as ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, Ghengus Kahn and Church rule behind)
    Let’s see: how about the feudal system? You remember that: Dukes and princesses, earls and lords, kings and queens, duchesses and all manner of hereditary “nobility” who owned virtually all the land. We, of course, were peasants. Our chances of advancement? Well, let’s just say we would all be envying that lucky snowball in hell.
    In the New World, however, feudalism would not fly. Never at a loss, the ruling class came up with slavery, a novel system whereby they not only owned the land, but the people, too. Then those damn, pesky liberals kept whining that slavery was immoral, and a blight upon our nation. Communists must have been behind it, oh wait...there were no Communists then. Liberals had their way and we ended slavery.
    So what to do? Ah ha! How about the sweatshop? We got to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. At least the pay was good, sometimes as much as $5/week. Heat? Ventilation? Bathroom breaks? Come on, you can’t have everything. Besides, why should the boss have to pay you for using the bathroom? Occasionally, you might get killed, as in the Triangle Shirt Factory fire (N.Y.C.,1911) (where fire exits were blocked by stored merchandise) but hell, storage space costs money, and if the boss has to pay for more space, that will cut into profits.        
    How about the coal business? The Company supplied you with a little house to live in (not much more than a shack) and you spent 14 or so hours a day in the mines. Pay? You never got any real money, instead you were paid in Company issued script...good no place else on earth but the Company store. Of course the items were highly marked-up, and you never had enough. No worry. Your credit was always good: “another day older and deeper in debt”.
    It is worth noting here that in Rush Limbaugh’s bible, that is, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, (the engrossing novel in which she lays out her ruling class worship) a Taggart Transportation train is stranded in the desert. A passing vehicle offers a ride to safety, but a loyal employee elects to stay with the train, knowing full well that there will be no other opportunity to leave. Although it is not specifically stated whether he survives, (he is never mentioned after that) it seems that despite her abject worship of the ruling class, Ms. Rand just couldn’t constrain herself from a little bit of honesty regarding the rewards to the common folk for Company loyalty. Or perhaps it was her way of stating that the common folk should  be sacrificed for the Company.  
    We could mention the violent suppression of union organisers, the exploitation of women and children, Ronald Reagan’s desire to lower the minimum wage....but I think you get the idea.

How It Might Line Up:

    At a time when the American people have had quite enough of far-right politics, Mr Limbaugh is single-handedly taking the GOP into another hard right turn. Mass defections (à la November, 2008) and Arlen Specter aside, what’s happening is plain enough for all to see: the liberal wing of the GOP has long since been drummed out, now, at Mr. Limbaugh’s (and the Club for Growth's) behest, it’s the moderates’ turn to go. And just where will they go? To the Democrats, that’s where, as Captain Limbaugh sails the GOP deep into the lunatic fringe, past the Bush and Reagan Islands, coming to rest just to the left of the American Nazi Party, on the Isle of Right. And just who will be left? The extreme right-wingers.                
    Yet it’s the defectors we need to be concerned with here. Some will be quite happy in the Democratic fold, while I suspect, many, if not most others would feel more comfortable a little more right-of-centre. Herein lies the nexus of my theory: with the GOP firmly entrenched in deep-right la-la land under Captain Limbaugh, there would be a huge power vacuum between them and the slightly left-of-centre Democrats, a power vacuum ample and large enough for a completely new party to form, a party that would, more or less, fill the place that the Republican party occupied under Teddy Roosevelt or Dwight Eisenhower. This new party, (we’ll call it “Party X” for illustrative purposes) could be an attractive new home for the disenfranchised erstwhile moderate and liberal wings of the old Republican party. Party X would, of course, distance itself from the old Republican party. With a far more electable roster of candidates, they would attract the funding that used to go to the GOP.
    Don’t laugh. Just because the Republicans and the Democrats are all we’ve known for all our lives, does not mean that (that) is the way it always will be, or for that matter, always was. American political parties do come and go. Remember the:
Federalists?: (George Washington, John Adams).
Democratic-Republicans?: [they split to become our two present-day parties] (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams).
Whigs?: (William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore).
Abraham Lincoln was a Whig, switching to the Republicans only upon the dissolution of the Whig party.

Scenario Two:
 

 GOP  Scores America’s Biggest Political Victory Ever in 2012

Background:

    Perhaps we could subtitle this “with a little help from my friends”. Barack Obama has firmly re-asserted himself as pro NAFTA and as a globalist,while in today’s America, talented, highly competent professionals are turning to junk jobs (to stave off the inevitable for even just a little while) as they come to grips with the fact that whether they be 62 or 26 their careers just may well be over. While it is quite true that the president said up front that he was not in favour of scrapping NAFTA, but was instead for re-negotiating it, he seems to be backing away even from that stance. That, his continuation of George Bush’s “just give Wall Street anything they want” programme, and the Senate’s recent rejection of allowing bankruptcy judges to alter mortgage terms, (that one obviously out of president Obama’s hands) are all give-aways to the ruling class. President Obama, (who I firmly believe is among the most decent and humanitarian individuals to ever occupy the White House) seems to be losing touch with Main Street as he climbs the winding stairs in the Washington Ivory Tower. Public resentment is building as more jobs die or go overseas, as foreclosures rise and more Wall Street bankers take bubble-baths in taxpayer cash. I find it disgusting and ludicrous that the Senate felt that common American citizens shouldn’t have the benefit of getting their mortgage terms adjusted in bankruptcy court; because they didn’t manage their finances properly, while AIG  gets billions from those same taxpayers because they didn’t manage their finances properly.                   
    When FDR took over the reins in 1933, he first gave out money directly to the people to keep them from disaster. He knew that creating jobs would take time, and that something needed to be done then and now to fill the gap until his jobs programme was ready. He also knew that folks would spend that money, and that would add some much needed juice to the economy. So far, we haven’t even seen a foreclosure moratorium from this administration. If Democrats don’t wise up, (and fast) this will tip in a big, negative way. Re-invigorating our economy means jobs. Not just minimum-wage (or slightly better) junk jobs, but real, steady, good paying jobs with opportunities for advancement. No one will be eager to start a family,( for example) if they know that at any moment their job could disappear and that they could look forward to perhaps decades of minimum-wage poverty.

How It Might Line Up:

    Right now I think (despite popular opinion) that this all portends far better for the Republicans then the Democrats, who are astoundingly out of touch (and) who remain committed to Republican principles such as massive cash for the ruling class and globalism, with as little going to the common folks as possible (if a little is good, none is better). They are dumbfoundingly unaware (or so firmly under the thumb of the ruling class that they feign unawareness) of the fact that trying to create good jobs and rebuild our economy while retaining globalism and NAFTA  is like trying to fill a bottomless bucket. Democrats also seem blissfully ignorant of the fact that the American public tends to be more conservative than liberal, and that therefore if the Democrats don’t help them, and instead offer the choice of “trickle-down economics  under Democrats” vs.“trickle-down economics under Republicans” they’ll choose “trickle-down economics under Republicans”, and the new, even further-to-the-right GOP (under Captain Limbaugh) will come roaring back in 2012. Just as when you hand the man at the store your money, you expect merchandise in return, when people hand a political party their votes, they expect action in return. Sadly, it seems to be “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” so far.

Conclusions:

    It is Barack Obama and the Democrats, not Robert Johnson who have gone “down to the crossroads” this time. At just over the first 100 days, it may seem as if there’s still all the time in the world, in reality, there is not. Programmes take time to design and implement. Once they are up and running, they take even more time to engender noticeable results. Like it or not, November 2012 is the deadline. If president  Obama and the Democrats have not distinguished themselves and delivered results to the people by that time, Republicans will win big, and we will get decades of favouritism for the ruling class on one hand and the imposition of dreary Puritan-like morals on the other.

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