ALIVE, BUT ALSO DEAD : TODAY’S GOP


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^ Chris Christie : a Fiorello LaGuardia for the 21st Century ?

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Folks in today’s GOP think it’s very much alive, indeed is the wave of the future. Observers OUTSIDE the GOP think it’s very much dead, the voice of the past, grim and gone.

They’re both right. Here’s why.

A political party is its people, its rank and file and its big voices. Today’s GOP has major big voices that span almost the entire horizon of American governance :

—- There is Chris Christie, voice of the Northeast, populist, even progressive, Fiorello LaGuardia wing of the GOP, to which this writer belongs (Christie even looks and speaks like LaGuardia).

—- There’s Jeb Bush, son and brother of Presidents, voice of the expansionist, immigrant-welcoming vision of growth and opportunity — a Teddy Roosevelt without T.R.’s Anglo-Saxon bias.

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^ Jeb bush : welcoming immigrants as a boon to our economy and the rescue of Social security

—- In the Senate, there’s Rand Paul (KY), voice of “libertarian” agendas, with one foot in the camp of radical freedom / isolation, and his other in nativism and gun-brandishing kookery

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^ Rand Paul : most influential libertarian voice in decades

—- also in the Senate, there’s John McCain : internationalist, reformer — including progressive banking and campaign finance reform — top voice of our war veterans and the avatar of bi-partisan agreements, with his two most effective allies, Lindsey Graham (SC) and Bob Corker (TN).

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^ Tennessee’s Bob Corker : shrewd and willing to experiment

—- add yet another Senator, Marco Rubio (FL), who is trying to be all things to all people: a plan that rarely works but which at least acknowledges that all people are entitled to be listened to and responded to

—- and the Tea Party, anti-government to the max, and “Christian” social conservatives, strong in the South and Mississippi valley: think Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, and a bunch of other guv’nors and legislators whose names we seldom hear up Nawth but who are wreaking Armageddon on the social progress of numerous states.

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^ Tea Party ; frustration is a dead end politics

Life, there most definitely is, on the GOP side. Unfortunately, there is also death there. The GOP rank and file includes almost no people of color, few who live alternative lifestyles, and not very many Hispanics. Walk through any important American city — state capitols especially — and you will see everybody that the GOP is not. The GOP holds sway in America’s back country, including the most outlying exurbs of big cities — people — almost all White — who see themselves losing ground, economically and culturally, to city people. This is not a misperception. They are losing ground. And the people to whom they are losing ground — the highly educated, the technology whizzes — today live, work, and shop in center cities and have remarkably remade almost all of these.

The GOP is, to a large degree, the party of America’s have-nots and excludeds. Few GOP’ers belong to the underclass or the working poor, but of those whose incomes rank just above the minimum — who work at tasks increasingly unrewarded by the technology economy — the GOP claims a majority. Curiously, the same is true of their bosses. The executives of technology companies overwhelmingly support the Democrats, but the folks who own and manage enterprises staffed by slightly above minimum-wage workers identify just as GOP as their workers do. As for minimum wage enterprises, the more minimum the wages paid to its workers, the more GOP does the management of such companies identify.

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^ Chick-a-fil CEO : fast food GOP

This is, economically, a culture of death. No one wants to live as a minimum wage employee subject to termination at any moment, without health insurance or benefits of any kind. No business that engages workers on that basis can ever rest easy that it will not be undercut by a competitor yet more ruthless. Workers in this sort of economy cannot participate in it. They can barely pay the essentials — indeed often require food stamps and other public assistance just to get by. A just-get-by family cannot buy anything discretionary ; and it is the discretionary economy that grows itself, that increases the nation’s prosperity and builds us a future.

This death would not be so dead if it embraced people of color, immigrants, and those of alternative lifestyle living and working in similar conditions. But it does not embrace them. It sees them as the cause of the death culture that has come upon them. Thus to death is added isolation, a kind of cultural solitary confinement.

The GOP needs badly to shake itself free of this culture of death; to deconstruct it entirely and rebuild entirely anew the lives of those now trapped in it. So far, however, the party’s only answer to this death trip is that of Texas’s Ted Cruz and Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan: an “opportunity fantasy.” As Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) just recently, in committee hearing, pointed out, this fantasy isn’t real. In it, everybody is on his own — no social safety net of any kind because that breeds laziness, say Cruz and Ryan — pursuing a kind of multi-level marketing scheme in which, if you dream hard enough, you will pyramid your dreams into acres of diamonds. This might work for a lucky, early few; for the future-less millions of us, it’s just another brick in the wall of being lied to.

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^ Ted Cruz : a male Mary Kay Ash ?

It is hard to be alive when much of you is dead. The GOP has plenty of life in it, at the leader level. Whether those leaders will have more alive followers than they have now depends on their ability to cast off the deadness. By 2016 we will know if any of them has succeeded.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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^ NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia ; when the GOP was the voice of big multitudinous cities

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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