Many books and blog posts have been devoted to the idea that, in order to chase the votes of the Religious Right, they continued to pander to them and promise them the moon. I still remember the acceptance speech of Dan Quayle at the Republican convention where he spoke of “family values” and introduced the demonization of a television character (Murphy Brown) for being an unwed mother. This was my first introduction to the “family values” crowd, as I was an extreme political novice at the time. But I do remember being dumbfounded that an entire nomination acceptance speech would be dedicated to something that government had absolutely no control over.
Of course, the Republican Party of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush I had no intention of actually delivering on those promises. They were just using those “wedge issues” to get the extreme conservative right all riled up in order to guarentee they would vote and get all their friends and family to vote as well. But did the Republican Party ever really decide they were going to push something like a revoking Roe v. Wade? No, they did not. For one reason, not everyone on their side supported that position. Another reason is that their real intention was to put that issue safely away in a box, only to be brought out next election where they could bash the Democrats and rile up their value voters again.
It really didn’t take a genius to figure out that the religious right wasn’t going to take this for decades and decades, where they were only important during the campaign season. No, those people wanted results, especially since they had been promised to have their every wish granted by the Republican Party for the last 35 years. The quickest way for them to achieve their goals was to actually take over the Republican Party. Which is what we have now, and why the “stars” of the Republican Party are people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Jim DeMint, etc., who I doubt that the mainstream conservatives of 35 years ago would have given the time of day.
But that is the situation we now find ourselves in today. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum, and no one really knows what to do about it. In fact, it is considered “bad form” for the mainstream media in this country to point out that this has occurred. There are two reasons behind this. One is that many in the media are terrified of getting accused of being a “liberal press.” The other is that many in the media, especially in the “Beltway” of Washington D.C., have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, which says that Republicans are serious people and should be in charge and that Democrats are strictly unserious who want huge government and are weak on national security. Plus, there are many who have made their way into the mainstream press who actually believe the right wing ravings, such as Charles Krauthammer. I won’t even get into the fact that there is a new even-righter wing press in this country now, centered around Fox News and supported by Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Maulkin, Ann Coulter, etc., whose entire Raison d'être is to blame Democrats for every real and imagined problem that this country has ever experienced. It is now common practice for this right wing media to blame Democrats for the Great Depression and claim that they are the real fascists.
There is no going back. There is no putting the geneii back in the bottle. The only possibility seems to be if the rational grownups in the Republican Party would be to retake the party and put in place real leaders and try to minimize their crazy fringe. However, I see no prospect of this actually happening. Any tiny attempt at criticisms along this line have been met with immediate and harsh condemnation where the person who spoke up either ended up apologizing (usually to Rush Limbaugh) or pretended that isn’t what they meant and they were really criticizing Democrats, because everyone knows that Democrats can’t be trusted, ever. Democrats love terrorists, want to destroy this country and are in league with governments all over the world to set up a Single World Government. The other option is that, instead of criticizing the current Republican Party and trying to change it, the rational adults, such as Chuck Hagel and Lincoln Chafee, retire and fade away into the night.
I do not know where this society is going to end up. I cannot see the current situation as being stable, where the status quo can be maintained for years. This looks decidedly like a very dynamic situation, where the current status is just a transformational one ready to morph into something else. It could go toward the recovery mode, or it might get decidedly nastier. I am thinking that I should really make some plans (hopefully just contingency plans and nothing that I really expect to put into action) to move to another country when I retire. I feel I have too much invested in my current job, house and financial situation to pick up and leave now, less than 10 years away from retirement. But afterwards, who knows? If things do start really getting out of control, such as having the Tea Party crowd in charge of the country, then there will still be enough time to actually pick up stakes and get the hell out of Dodge.
Hopefully, it won’t come to that. One friend of mine says that my fears are overblown, that things are never as dark as can be imagined. Another friend says, in so many words, that things are much worse than we are admitting and views the current United States as an out of control monster. And I see his points, why he is saying what he is saying. What the real state of affairs is, I am not sure we are actually going to be able to gage until 30 years from now, where historians can look back and this fork in the road and see which way our country and our society went.