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Skeeter Sanders has had quite a bit of success posting on DailyKos and he's been publishing The 'Skeeter Bites Report since the end of '05. Central Vermonters also know him as the DJ of The Quiet Storm on 91.1 WGDR-FM. "The Quiet Storm" is Northern New England's only smooth jazz/R&B radio show, and we are thankful to Skeeter for bringing some music diversity to an often bleak radio landscape.

We taped this episode of VTblogosphereTV the day after Obama's health care address, so we both had Joe Wilson on the brain. This clip begins as Skeeter is finishing up enumerated other less publicized instances of Republican boorishness during the presentation to both Houses. Then the discussion broadens:

I found Skeeter's referencing of 1964 particularly fascinating, perhaps since I had just finished reading Rick Perlstein's Nixonland.  The book traces both Nixon and the Republican Party's journey from the political graveyard in 1964 to Nixon's 1972 landslide. The undoing of the liberal consensus in the intervening years was in part stoked by larger events (Vietnam, urban riots) but Nixon had a large role in orchestrating a politics of division that remains today. Perlstein argues that the Southern Strategy, the appeals to emotional and cultural discontents, the politics of resentment all led to the blue state/red state divide that became a cultural shorthand in this decade.

A prerequisite for the flipping of a liberal consensus to decades of a Republican White House (with interludes for Southern Democratic centrists) was the ideologically purifying campaign of Goldwater in 1964. What at the time was political suicide-- a hard tack to the right during a liberal era-- ended up creating just the contrasts necessary to capitalize on the collapse of that era of liberalism.

So at the risk of forwarding tortured historical analogies, is the present Republican public hissy fit a kind of purifying ritual that will reap them rewards in the future? Or are we witnessing something quite different, a wholesale shrinkage of a party that will have no claim to vast swaths of the electorate save fundamentalist regional voters?

Further, ideological purification as a prescription for a party out of power does not seem to ever be followed by the Democrats. The Democratic Party has not embraced its left flank in my lifetime although many a progressive has insisted that the key to success is to rhetorically and legislatively practice class politics and win the great majority of Americans who are not members of the overclass. When Rove was delusionally declaring a permanent Republican majority in 2004, it was a moment like 1964, where it appeared that the party out of power had been reduced to irrelevancy. The Democrats did not take that moment as a signal to purify; rather they enlarged the electorate and placed their bets with a biracial conciliator, a man who frequently evoked the other President from Illinois tasked with reuniting and healing a nation.

But perhaps Perlstein's formulation is for an era that ended. He wrote Nixonland in 2008 and perhaps the election of Obama signalled that "there are no red states there are no blue states" anymore. Maybe the present ideological purification, this hard tack to the right we are witnessing as Republican madness, will result in further marginalization.  Skeeter pointed out that when Bush lost his own party around immigration reform, it should have been an early warning sign of the extremism to follow. What we are seeing is an exorcism of Bush-- with the party base refashioning itself hypocritically as deficit hawk America firsters. Maybe what we are witnessing this time is not the ideological purification of 1964, but the complete inability to compute the reality of a black President, resulting in a mass psychological breakdown.

So have we left Nixonland yet?

Crossposted at Green Mountain Daily. VTblogosphereTV airs on public access TV in the Burlington area on VCAM and in central VT at ORCA. If your local blogosphere has not yet migrated to public access TV, I highly recommend it!

Originally posted to Randolph06 on Wed Sep 23, 2009 at 04:48 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Absolutely not (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    furi kuri, Tinfoil Hat, Gatordiet

    We're still in Nixonland, heading towards the inevitable outcome of the Southern Strategy: a second civil war.

    Obama's election did bring one change: we have a black president. The center-right, Reaganite, free-market consensus has not changed very much at all.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Wed Sep 23, 2009 at 04:58:16 PM PDT

    •  The center right consensus splintered last year. (5+ / 0-)

      The far right is the voice of the Republican party right now(pick your favorite mouthpiece).

      I have never been able to figure out if Fox is the propaganda arm of the Republican party or is the Republican Party the political subsidiary of Fox.

      by Dave from Oregon on Wed Sep 23, 2009 at 05:01:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, thank you (4+ / 0-)

        Let me rephrase myself: there is no consensus; there is a center-right, free-market Democratic party, dominated by the Baucuses and Nelsons of this world, and an utterly batshit ultra-right wing GOP, with no coherent ideology except anger and hatred of the government.

        The batshit right rails against the center-right and advocates violence against them. And the center-right continues to tilt further to the right to try to please the batshit right.

        That is a better description of the current political situation.

        "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

        by limpidglass on Wed Sep 23, 2009 at 05:07:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  that coupled with demographic trends (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        limpidglass

        would render Nixonland over. The divisions remain, but the numbers aren't close enough to have a competitive divide. That's my hope anyway.

        •  there's another possibility (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DudleyMason

          Democratic incompetence and inability to pass needed legislation results in sharply reduced turnout in the base in 2010 and the GOP gains seats in Congress, enough to really block any kind of legislation. The GOP does something very simple: kill every bill the Democrats propose, while proposing outrageous bills banning gay marriage, flag burning, contraception etc. These bills are voted down, but they tie up Congress and prevent it from doing the people's business.

          The economy keeps tanking and by 2012, unemployment reaches record highs and Obama's numbers are in the tank. The system remains broken. The Democrats are disorganized and unable to unify.

          At that point, if the GOP could run the right candidate, they could win. Because their base will always turn out vigorously, and the Democrats won't unless their politicians deliver for them.

          "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

          by limpidglass on Wed Sep 23, 2009 at 05:22:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Relates to the point I was making (0+ / 0-)

            about the Dems never tacking left to catch wind in their sails. You paint the scenario where either through being bought off or incompetent, they fail legislatively despite healthy majorities. Resentment mounts, repub politics of resentment becomes (though still loony and ugly) increasingly successful.

            Not a pretty picture and a warning to the dems to deliver on a progressive agenda, if only for self serving electoral reasons.

            Nixonland documents how Nixon on the surface ran as the "bring the country together" "peace with honor" candidate, while learning from George Wallace and stoking racial and cultural resentments. If the repubs can come up with someone who can thread that needle, they'd be in business. The good news is I dont see anyone on their bench right now remotely talented enough.

  •  From a Party to a Secessionist Movement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randolph06

    I think this moment is 1860, except the parties have switched places.

    I just saw survey results showing that approval for the GOP among Hispanics and Asians has fallen from 20% at the start of the year to 3% last month.  Approval among 19 to 34-year-olds is 4%.  I don't think anyone ever comes back from 4%.  The non-white demographic tide cannot be stopped.  The only solution, the final solution, is for the Right to take the vote away from their enemies.  The ancestors of the current Southern extremists tried to do this by first seceding, then after their defeat, by creating Jim Crow.

    So the project now is to create a movement full of people who will wage war on the rest of us until we either let them secede or we give up our right to vote.    The goal cannot be the goals of 1964, because they've already gotten those things under Reagan and Bush and it's ruined the country.

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