Almost two months ago, in the middle of January, I mentioned in a number of posts (here, here, and here), rather casually, in passing, that I thought the right-wing tide had crested and was due to head back out. The timing was a little odd, since it was just before the Alito vote, and I was pretty sure Alito was going to be confirmed (in spite of my support for a filibuster), but that's the way I felt nevertheless. I meant to follow up with something a little clearer and more in-depth about why I had that gut feeling, but I never did.
Well, I still feel that way, despite Alito, and despite Ciro Rodriguez losing. I think the signs are all around us that the right has left its golden moment and is due to be surpassed. There's hardly anything that's currently happening that bodes well for them:
Iraq is, as we all knew it would be, given the ideological predisposition of the neo-cons not to properly perpare for the post-invasion period, entirely a shambles, and there's little possibility now of anything happening except an American pull-out. How and when and who will replace us are still to be determined, but, reading the tea-leaves (which is what this exercise is all about) the pull-out seems inevitable.
Sometimes it seems as if everyone in the Republican party (and their maiden aunt as well) is being investigated or charged or indicted or sentenced. It's not true, of course, but it does seem that way. Suddenly, the GOP is not invincible and shielded from following normal conventions of ethical behavior, and that, for them, is a very bad thing, because their normal everyday way of doing business requires that they have the freedom to operate outside the bounds of the law, ethics and morality. Without that margin to work in, they're dead.
But lets's go back even before that, to the election of 2004, which I think was the harbinger of the doom of the Republicans, the beginning of the end. Despite the fact that Bush won, despite the success of the Republican GOTV effort to bring record numbers of people to the polls, despite the significant media differential which worked in the favor of the right-wing candidate, despite Bush being an incumbent in the White House who was a self-declared "War President", the victory was razor thin. I've kept the note I wrote at the time up on my sidebar, because I thought it was significant then, and it continues to be significant now:
Bush's winning margin was the VERY SMALLEST for any incumbent full-term President since 1892. Over 60 MILLION PEOPLE, 49.25% of those participating, voted AGAINST George W. Bush -- more people than have EVER voted against ANY Presidential candidate in American history.
There's no way to spin that fact as the best possible outcome for the Republicans -- it was, instead, the very worst possible good outcome for them.
There are growing indications, not widespread yet, but glimmers here and there, that reporters (those members of it who are not right-wingers or fellow-travellers themselves) are beginning to catch on to the fact that the right uses them, by playing the "balance this" game. Knowing that outmoded journalistic convention requires one viewpoint to be "balanced" by presenting an opposition viewpoint, the right has succesfully moved the "center" of the conversation further and further to the right by moving their positions farther and farther away from otherwise accepted social conventions. This results in "he said/she said" articles in which these right-wing views are legitimatized by being paired with conventional views (usually centrist and not liberal ones, which also helps move the acceptable range of opinions out tot he right). Add water, shake, repeat. It may be the case that some reporters are tired of this, and are starting to re-state factual truths without regard to also reporting right-wing bullshit.
On firedoglake Pachacutec takes a look at the situation from the other direction: if the tide is turning, why aren't we gaining?, and comes up with more points:
The most recent great wave of innovation in American politcs was the conservative "revolution," often traced to Goldwater and moving through Reagan to the present day. That movement has reached its apogee and is now moving past its peak. Evidence for a turning of the tide is all around us.
What evidence? Well, for the first time in the post-Viet Nam era, to the best of my knowledge, more Americans trust Democrats on national security than trust Republicans. That's seriously revolutionary.
The institutional strengths of the conservative establishment mask how strong we are. That's because the creation of conventional wisdom still lies in their hands, as they control the media. They worked hard, starting in the 1980's, to gain that control. Now they have it. But already, it's slipping. We are cracking it up, along with Jon Stewart and other cultural forces.
The conservaitive revolution took a long time to build. The funding came from the corporate side of the coalition, but the grassroots passion came from the fundamentalists, who decided to move out of their own social circles to run for small, local offices, and move stealth-like into the mainstream. That also really took off in the 1980's.
As a progressive movement, we are about where their side was in the late 1970's, before Reagan became president. And yet, the pace of our progress in the last two years has put their early progress to shame, probably because our ability to use the Internet to dissemminate information and to communicate alters the pace of social change generally.
As a progressive movement, on the issues, we already have the Early Majority on our side, but we have to close the sale in the midterms and consolidate it in the '08 presidential campaign. The media will follow our progress, and not see it or give it credit in advance. That's because the media is in the hands of pro-establishment forces.
To maintain strong majority governance, we don't need to win over any more than a solid, sustainable 5% of the Skeptical Guardians. Sometimes we will have more than that, sometimes less, but if we can keep a solid average above 50%, obviously, we dominate. Forget the Confirmed Traditionalists, the flat earthers. We'll never win them and we don't need them.
Even once we win more Democratic seats in '06, we still need to push the party to stand for progressive ideals. The fundamentalists actually kept pushing the Republican party for 20 years before becoming the party establishment, or at least its co-establishment. It won't take us as long, I think, but it will take at least two more election cycles, I figure.
We win by erosion and consistency. Thats' why I chose the graphic I chose. But I think we can cover the ground the conservative revolution covered in thirty years in much less time: more like ten years.
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a popular book caled The Tipping Point. That was all about moving a product in the market from the Early Adopters to the Early MAjority, and he said that's the hardest part. And it is. But get this: we've already past that point. The electoral results will follow. Katrina was a tipping point. So is the Dubai Ports deal. The collapse of the American effort in Iraq, now apparent to a majority of Americans, is a tipping point.
Finally, to sustain our gains, we have to tell America a new story about what America is and what we need. Government is not the enemy. Public service with accountability serves the public interest. "Together, We Can Do Better" is not a bad branding statement, overall. The narrative, which underlies all the stories Americans tell themselves, is up for grabs now. We have to fill that void with our story. And we will.
It has to be emphasized that just because the tide has turned (if it has turned) doesn't mean that right isn't still dangerous, or that it doesn't maintain power. The continuing presence of Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas on the Supreme Court fairly much guarantees that one avenue for social reform that was once available to us is now closed off for the foreseeable future. That makes it even more vitally important for us to take back both the Presidency and at least one house of the Congress (preferably the House, although the Senate might be easier to accomplish). If we just regain the White House alone, there's still an awful lot that can be done to stop the degradation of our society, through the power of the executive branch and the bully pulpit of the presidency.
I think the tide has turned, I think the power of the right is already waning, and I think we're on the way back. It's going to take a while (just as it took a while for the right to recover from the total defeat that was the Goldwater election), and we'll be held back by entrenched forces within the Democratic party (about which I'll have more to say in another post I've been meaning to get to for several weeks), but we're heading back.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.