We all enjoyed watching the Titanic that was the 2012 Republican campaign meet its deserving end, with no small amount of help from our President and Party, and a large part of the fun has been watching the GOP alternate universe collide with reality. The problem, folks, is that bubbles of insanity this big and well-funded do not burst simply because the people behind them lose elections - there is simply too much momentum involved, too much power, too much identity invested in the Big Lies and paranoid fantasies that feed them. Somehow, 47% of the American electorate believed that a tax-evading, thieving, sadistic, outsource-happy, compulsively lying, certifiable sociopath was preferable to a globally admired President with a list of accomplishments that would leave everyone but JFK, FDR, and the Mt. Rushmore crowd in the dust.
Furthermore, large elements - if not majorities - of this bubble constituency believe the President to be a foreigner with a completely different religion from the one he has always espoused, a completely different policy record from his actual one, and occurring in the context of a completely different history from reality. And what needs to be said is that this is not some endearing joke of an out-of-touch party doomed to lose elections while providing the Normals with entertainment: This is the seed of a violently deranged totalitarian movement that will unleash Hell on this country and the world the very next time they control the White House, which is inevitable while the Republican Party remains viable and in control of the US media.
I want to paint a picture for you of the world at the turn of the millennium: The United States had just enjoyed eight years of unprecedented economic growth under the Clinton administration's leadership, saw the emergence of Silicon Valley as the premier economic engine of the future (notwithstanding the dotcom bubble), created federal budget surpluses as far as the eye could see, enjoyed good relationships with our friends and allies abroad, and had at least contained our few remaining enemies while building up a solid record of proactive domestic defense against terrorism. A sense of triumphalism and complacent inevitability pervaded the atmosphere, so much so that millions of people somehow couldn't find a substantive difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Within two years and a couple of months of that hard-won zenith, Americans were cowering in terror of every imaginable worst-case scenario gleefully conjured by a sadistic and tyrannical Republican regime that had not even been elected; the economy was in ruins; the federal budget was racking up deficits at break-neck speed while the rich were being doled out tax cuts like candy; American military and intelligence facilities abroad were turned into torture gulags for the detainment and brutalization of Enemies of the State; a country that had neither the intention nor capacity to attack us was massively invaded and occupied at the ultimate cost of 5,000 American lives and a million innocent people; the world utterly despised us; the democratic nations of the Earth considered the US a dangerous rogue state; the federal government had been cut up and divided as spoils among corrupt and incompetent personal friends of George W. Bush and other Republican leaders; and the "independent" media had degenerated into a Soviet-style propaganda bureau assaulting human intelligence and dignity on an almost hourly basis.
And that's just the broadest, vaguest overview of the horrors. It took Republicans little more than two years to drag America down from a state of unprecedented peace, prosperity, freedom, and security into an Orwellian nightmare where not only did we no longer enjoy the dignity, honor, and opportunity of our prior expectations, but could not even count on the basic guarantee of security in times of danger or disaster. We lost two iconic skyscrapers and thousands of Americans to their negligence, our image and conscience to their imperial depravity, our economy and environment to their greed, our liberty to their tyranny, and an entire American city of worldwide renown was left to drown and its people to die because Republicans did not consider that city a priority due to its racial makeup and economic profile. Two years to do incalculable, possibly irreparable damage, not to mention all the damage that followed (e.g., the financial collapse).
By and large, the voters responsible for putting George W. Bush in power still do not regret their votes, and do not to this day understand their folly. They do not remember the events described above transpiring, because they never experienced them in the first place - they were already deeply ensconced in the alternate universe bubble of talk radio, Fox News, and other general media sources that prefer stenography to journalism and GOP talking points to facts. Their memories are some kind of cartoon alternate history where Bush was some lovable, folksy, but godly scamp with country charm who rose to the occasion and bravely defended America from its enemies when they attacked in ways no one could possibly have predicted (the fact that it was predicted is never reported in any media source these people listen to).
In this Looney Tunes vision of the Bush years, "job creators" were enabled by auctioning off the domestic functions of the federal government to the family associates of Republican leaders and basically exempting large corporations from the laws of the United States, large or small, civil or criminal. We were ruled over with savage contempt and impunity by these people, and just the barest thread - the thinnest, most tenuous filament of the American republic survived to grow anew. But these people, accounting for a huge minority of the electorate, never saw anything fundamentally wrong with any of it. They were told, and believed, that the financial crisis - like every other problem they create - was somehow to blame on poor people and minorities, and the solution to it all was to do the same things, only more insanely.
So it's unsurprising that when 2008 came along, that's exactly how they voted. These people had no sane justification to vote for John McCain - none. The choice was so stark that it's not even an opinion, but a simple fact of the difference between people living in a free society and people who are mentally already part of some degenerate, dogmatic authoritarian state. And the man who spoke simple, plain, pragmatic common sense to them, they perceived as a dangerous radical Other speaking in a completely foreign language while the lunatic and his even crazier running mate who promised to start wars and accelerate the demolition of the US economy were the normal, "traditional" Americans. And they did it again in 2012, with an even starker choice, yet somehow managing to gain a few percentage points on their previous performance.
This brings me to a simple question: If it took an unelected George W. Bush with a divided Congress and massive budget surpluses two years to obliterate eight years of the Clinton administration, how long would it take a halfway-credible Republican to undo the achievements of this administration? How long would it take them to completely unravel this country at the seams into roiling, impoverished medieval chaos and tyranny on the order of Putin's Russia? And if they encounter any real resistance when that happens, how long before their Bubble of Derangement turns into Rwanda-style broadcasts coordinating door-to-door purges of all the minority, liberal, or just moderate neighbors these ignorant maniacs are brought to believe are conspiring against them and "mooching" off their paychecks?
These people are not learning from election losses, and yet those losses are not undermining their power nearly as much as they are feeding energy into the Bubble, making it crazier, more fervid, more violent, and more determined to crush those whom it already rationalizes victimizing. We hold leverage right now to achieve the things we want, but that won't mean anything if the very next Republican to occupy the White House - be it in 2016, 2020, 2024, or beyond - can just turn it all to ash in the blink of an eye. Sooner or later, we will get complacent, or we will nominate the wrong person, or they will nominate someone capable of projecting the right image despite being a psychopath, and the White House will be theirs. If we have not liberated the media by then; if we have not built solid economic and social foundations that they cannot easily destroy; then the hope of the republic will be whittled almost to nothing.
I want you all to understand something about history: Nobody in the Weimar Republic had any notion about what was on the horizon. None at all. Germany was a civilized, cosmopolitan nation full of intellectuals and practical people, not a society that anyone would believe could fall into the hands of bellowing madmen preaching deranged fantasies and the organized mass-murder of innocents. But Germany's original sin of militarism had been repeatedly frustrated, sublimated, and turned into potent poison that overcame all reason, all humanity, all the civilized forms they had evolved to tame these impulses. Our nation's original sin was slavery - the degradation of the human being into the abject property of arrogant and greedy masters - and that sin has been repeatedly frustrated and resurrected in more insidious form, from the Southern Strategy that brought us Nixon and Reagan, to the murderous Corporate Fascism of the modern GOP since George W. Bush.
Except for Gerald Ford, who didn't have to endure a presidential primary to take office, every single Republican who has occupied the White House has been worse than the last - more bloodthirsty, more corrupt, more mendacious, more arrogant, greedier, more ridiculous, more degenerate, and more distant from anything resembling an American. Today, it is impossible for someone who is not literally a certifiable psychopath to win a Republican presidential nomination, and sooner or later the stars will align and an even more repugnant madman than George W. Bush will be in the White House...if we allow the GOP to run its natural course, and just count on the electorate to never falter.
But we can't do that anymore - not so much because of how bad the leaders are, but because their insanity is feeding and exacerbating the growth and toxicity of the alternate universe bubble described before. Quite simply, every moment things continue like this, they are eating away at the ability of our republic to survive, dragging more people into the bubble and poisoning more of the remainder with crazy Overton Window-based perceptions that have nothing to do with reality. There is almost nothing we can do to persuade those people of anything while these circumstances continue, because they are basically brainwashed - they've been inducted into a cult, and don't hear anything that isn't broadcast by that cult's approved message-makers, in the cult's trademarked doublethink. And yet all they have to do to win is convince some small fraction of the non-crazy that they're really not all that bad. Sooner or later, they'll do it again - they'll have someone who is crazy enough to be one of them, but cunning enough to hide it just enough.
We can't allow this. And the only solution I can think of to really burst the wingnut bubble is to divide and replace the Republican Party - break it apart, so that the toxic alignment of various hatreds cannot form a synergistic whole to threaten our society any longer. Divide the insanity so that there are several bubbles with their own uniquely crazy view of things, so that there is less feedback and collaboration among them. The tensions are there along the fault lines of its constituencies, for any competent social engineer to exploit, and we have run out of time where we can pretend this isn't necessary and we can just keep acting like they're a legitimate opposition party. The GOP is not legitimate anymore - they are a bunch of heavily-armed right-wing radicals collaborating with outright criminals in order to crush everyone else, and that's not politics in a free America. That's a genocide waiting to happen.
Moreover, we need to liberate the media. Repeat: We need to liberate the media. Things cannot be allowed to go on like this, with Republican oligarchies controlling like 90% of the media, thousands of radio and TV stations, most of the newspapers, and the vast majority of cable news content. It's not only dangerous, but plainly illegal in terms of broadcasters. By hook or by crook, we can't let the GOP control the information the American people hear anymore, or the scenarios outlined here are inevitable. We must not let our triumph this year blind us to the threat the way we were blinded in 2000, nor must we allow ourselves to fall into either complacency or fatalism - we can dismantle the GOP, and we must. Republicans constituencies will all still have their say through disparate parties, but if we can do anything to prevent it, they can no longer safely be conglomerated into a single national party with hamfisted media control.
12:40 PM PT: I probably won't be able to respond to comments until tonight, although I may drop in from time to time.