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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

I come not to praise Gingrich, but to bury him...

The Republican Revolution



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Replies: 7 comments

I think the official position is more border security but "path to citizenship" for those already here, which I guess I agree with, but it's all kind of vague.

There are two basic reasons to not be thrilled with the unlimited status quo: one is that you are concerned with the deterioration of the value of labor, the other is that you hate those fucking spics. I'm in category number one, but really what bothers me isn't simply American jobs being lost, or wages being driven down, but it's the fact that we have an entire subculture of, well not even second class citizens but noncitizens who exist to be exploited. And the bourgeois white "liberal" consensus on the issue, and even the immigrant activist community, is "Isn't it wonderful that these people are here to pick up our garbage?" and, whoa, you're *okay* with that? What we should be seeking is not a continuance of the status quo nor an end to immigration but an end to this gross exploitation. Yeah, yeah, it's lovely that people are willing to risk their lives to come here, why do we repay them by locking them up in virtual sweatshops, or sometimes not so virtual, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says there are literal sweatshops in every major American city.

The people who want to build a giant fence on the Mexican border are the same people who think we've done a fantastic job of intercepting all that cocaine and heroin we used to have problems with. What's much less absurd is going after the corporations who live off of exploiting undocumented labor and making sure they pay all of their workers, regardless of national origin, a damn living wage.

But that would involve ruffling the feathers of the real base of the Republican party, and the Democratic party for that matter.

Do Democrats have a definitive position on illegal immigration? I honestly don't know. Ideally, I'd like for somebody to ask the question "What makes them so desperate to come here?" and start looking at the impact of things like NAFTA. But I suspect that would be considered kook-fringe. Too bad.

To see the flood of immigrants willing to risk their lives for a couple bucks an hour must give even immigrant-bashers a thrill. They can think "Look at how great our country is, to offer these south-of-the-border types this kind of opportunity, without even actively trying to kill them! We're #1!"

I can't think of a good solution. Anyway, worrying about immigration strikes me as retrograde, since it's just as easy for jobs to leave the country as for job-seekers to enter it. Maybe the solution is to grant jobs, like corporations, the legal status of people. That way, if a job tries to leave or enter the country, it will be thoroughly searched, profiled and background-checked to see if it's a security threat.

Frankly, I think it's a stretch for Armey to be wrapping himself in the cloak of fiscal conservatism now, sure his Congress (working with Clinton) cut a lot of spending that created the unprecedented budget surpluses of the late nineties, but while Clinton wanted to use that money to shore up Social Security, the Republicans wanted to use it for, wait for it, tax cuts for rich people. The issue was not resolved until the fiscally disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, for which Armey, in his last two years as Majority Leader, was a rubber stamp.

(Side note: it always gets me when Republicans complain about Bush but wax nostalgic for the patron saint of small government, Ronald Reagan. Ya huh? That would be the guy who quadrupled the national debt? Clearly, I am too smart, and way too much of a commie to understand these things.)

And disavowing divisive cultural issues is also hypocritical, since it's been winning them elections for decades. Now much more than gay marriage/flag burning what have you, the issue the base of the Republican party is most upset about is illegal immigration. Actually, that would be the people who *think* they're the base of the Republican party, the *real* base of the Republican party is a bunch of millionaires snorting cocaine off of underage Asian hookers' asses, laughing their own collective asses off at the chumps who think they're the base, but are actually vote delivering machines. The real base *loves* illegal immigration and all that delicious cheap labor. Now the chumps have actually started to wise up about this, as well as the fact that whoa, this Iraq thing may not have been the heroic, patriotic enterprise it was supposed to be.

As to what will happen in two years, I don't know. If the Democrats are moronic enough (and they are) to nominate Hillary for the presidency, it's possible that this week's gains will go down in flames, but don't underestimate the power of incumbency. Once you're in, you're very often in for the long haul. To take a local example: Melissa Bean was elected two years ago in a pretty solidly Republican district, she's considered a very business friendly moderate who's keyed in to the conservative beliefs of most of her constituents. So are a lot of the Dems elected on Tuesday. Bean held on, I think a lot of them will too.

Now Patrick, I have clearly used more words than you, and am therefore right.

Disgrace -- hell yeah. That's something I can get behind.

I think America fell in love with the sheer sweep of Republican pugnacity. It beat the left's wounded earnestness the same way the most popular boys in class might mash in the face of that one whiny, pedantic kid who reminded the teacher to assign everyone a paper over Christmas break.

I think America fell in love with this unapologetic ugliness, thinking it was some kind of righteous backlash against the oppressiveness of all those leftist reminders to be nice and sit up straight. But now I think people have realized this ugliness just a mindless reflex, a self-defeating cover for weakness. I hope. As Hunter Thompson once said, "A little of this shit goes a very long way." Anyway, I hope it will be a while before the next ugly American comes along.

Funny you should mention Dick Armey- he wrote an editorial in the Washington Post last week saying that the elements of the Contract With America are what brought about the Republican control of Congress, and compared to many of the issues being pushed by today's Republican majority show why voters are looking (have looked) elsewhere. In 1994, we were talking about welfare reform and balancing the budget. Today, the party has been hanging its hat on flag burning and attempts to ban gay marriage. Obviously, the way the war in Iraq is going was a factor, but in terms of people who are generally supportive of Republican principles, these issues and the breakneck spending were too much to bear.

If I read right, I think both of you seem to agree that it's not so much that the Democrats won this election, it's that the Republicans lost.

I think 2008 is wide open if the Republicans can convince people that they learned their lesson. The Democrats have two years to do really well and build on what happened this week. If they do, 2008 is theirs on a silver platter. If they fall flat- which they will if they are too aggressively left, especially right away- then look for this to be a very short run of a Democratic congress.

I'm not saying the Republican party or conservative movement are now somehow politically irrelevant, or won't retake it in two years, I'm saying that Gingrich's proclaimed "revolution" uninterrupted congressional rule that would last as long as the Democrats reign had (which I think was about forty years) is demonstrably over, and the architects of that revolution: Gingrich, Dick Armey, Tom Delay, are all out of Congress now, in varying states of disgrace.

The Republican Revolution wasn't my favorite Hal Hartley movie, but I think Newt Gingrich did a good job in it. It's too bad he's dead now.

I'd like to agree with "RIP", but I'm not sure I can. The biggest reason people voted the way they did yesterday was still "values", same as two years ago. I get the feeling that, the first time anyone remotely Democrat mentions gay marriage, the magic will disappear and the voters will turn them right back into pumpkins.

But for the sake of my future husband's Blue Cross/Blue Fairy Godmother insurance covering me as well: I really, really hope you're right.

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