Monday, November 12, 2012

Reactionaries Did Themselves In

So now that the elections are finally over, the recriminations have begun. I said earlier that if Romney lost, the Republican party would blame Romney and not its policies. Party big shots and their shills in the media would say they lost because Romney was a flawed candidate, or that he ran a weak campaign. And now we see that process has begun. But master operative Karl Rove is also taking a lot of heat for Republican losses that, amazingly, most of them did not see coming. Rove has been bitterly denounced for his failure to do lots of things, but basically, as far as the super rich guys were concerned, his failure to deliver on a campaign they were treating as bought and paid for.

Of course, Rove has a bit of defense; Romney really was a weak candidate. Rove provided various logistical services for a veritable swarm of candidates, and of course he provided boatloads of money for candidates who were only too happy to have the help. He didn't tell the various down ticket Republicans that they should put their foot in their mouths by offending gays, blacks, Hispanics, and women. Whatever was going through the minds of loathsome candidates like Joe Walsh of Illinois, Allen West of Florida, Todd Akin of Missouri, or Richard Mourdock of Indiana, came from their hearts, so to speak. They all ran on anger, divisiveness, and contempt for people not like themselves; they all lost.

What is not happening, for most Republicans, is a recognition that their policies are not supported by most Americans and their attitude, including, most certainly, Mitt Romney's, mightily pissed off way too many highly motivated voters. Their reactionary world view kept them from appreciating just how much damage they were doing to themselves and to the Republican brand. For many years Republicans at all levels have allowed themselves to retreat from a mainstream view of the world, of liberalism, Democrats, and especially President Obama. Instead, a parallel, deeply reactionary (and therefore not a traditionally-nuanced conservatism) alternative has grown to dominate the party.

At the center of that alternative universe is conservative media, dominated by the Fox News we have come to love, as well as Rush Limbaugh, but also a host of others, many of them owned or affiliated with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, as is Fox. The Republican party has for years helped develop and increasingly relied upon an ideologically-driven alternative media. It is a model, besides being irresistibly profitable for the executives who run it, that has gamed rank-and-file viewers while providing a comforting and convenient outlet for right wing voices. Doing so created apparent legitimacy to noxious and offensive individuals and ideas as well as an ideological bubble that served to inoculate conservative voters from uncomfortable facts or non-confirmatory narratives. It also induced Republican politicians, not always the most nuanced thinkers to begin with, to deeply overestimate their party's appeal and misjudge how offensive they were perceived by all but the diminishing numbers of true believers.

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