Because mainstream opinion is still catching up with the radicalization of the remnant right

Looking at the extreme, exaggerated, consistent, pervasive, and distasteful contempt for the President that characterizes so much contemporary rightwing discourse, Andrew Sullivan asks (again):

Is this rank racism, pure partisanship, class resentment, or some toxic combination of them all?

That and much more, but also quite simply the fact that the current Republican political and opinion leadership is exploiting credibility that it has inherited rather than earned.  It was built up over decades, and popular and mainstream comprehension of the current party’s narrowness has not yet caught up to the reality.  So we have the mere appearance of a still closely and sharply divided country against an actual ideological relative consensus, though the gap or lag also equates with prudent patience, since it remains conceivable that the Republicans will revert to historical form – as an element within the American social democratic state rather than as the principle of its total negation – at any political time.  It’s not just or even so much that the Republican opinion elite has moved right, as that the mainstream opinion consensus has expanded to envelop much of what was once thought “conservative,” an argument that the President and allies, and more than a few disgruntled further-leftists, have not yet tired of making.  For now, in the aftermath of the Bush catastrophe and ahead of the oncoming demographic deluge, the remaining Republican centrists either have adopted adversarial stances toward the movement (Frum, Bartlett) or are represented by politician-opportunists and hacks (Romney, Huntsman, Boehner, McConnell) whose path of least resistance is to operate within the radicalized party as they find it.

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13 comments on “Because mainstream opinion is still catching up with the radicalization of the remnant right

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  1. Ah Andrew is as droll as Coward or Wodehouse, cheerio old chap, We have the most blanc mange frontrunner since Wilder’s Throttlebottom, yet like Chip Dillard, his pater familia is ridiculed, despite having been the GOP’s house liberal
    on Mad Men,

  2. Yes Henry Francis, isn’t the least sympathetic character that’s split between Pete Campbell and Ken (last name escapes me) Me thinks SDP wouldn’t have been interested in American Motors either.

  3. It’s not just or even so much that the Republican opinion elite has moved right, as that the mainstream opinion consensus has expanded to envelop much of what was once thought “conservative,” an argument that the President and allies, and more than a few disgruntled further-leftists, have not yet tired of making.

    Really? Or is the real mainstream opinion consensus buried under Fox News’ influence? I believe that everyone who watches tv news on any station–no matter how liberal its reports may even actually be–is being influenced hugely by Fox News via the effect of the competition for viewers. Never underestimate the underlining (what in the yoga world we refer to as the…) energetic power of motivation. Whatever motivates people also influences people. So it’s not the words, it’s the consciousness, and while most Unitedstatesians may watch tv news, what tv news succeeds in burying is still there and if the real mainstream opinion consensus was as it seems on television I don’t think they would have ever elected someone named Obama.

    • What appears in the TV news, Fox or otherwise, isn’t the same as the totality. People like Miggs, if I’m not mistaken, are convinced beyond dissuasion that the totality of the mainstream media – TV News as well as Mad Men and probably Judge Judy and sports coverage and WAY TOO MUCH of Fox – are advancing a leftwingified super-plot to annihilate or transform all that’s good and holy and bury it in the Gulag. They’re right, but just don’t realize that what they have in mind is much worse, and that neither is much going anywhere anyway.

      FNC didn’t emerge from the vacuum. It filled a growing niche for its product that could be described in different ways, for instance as a provisional perspective at a particular intersection of power and culture. I read somewhere BTW that Fox’s viewership is in major decline, but maybe it was a one-month blip – had been meaning to look look into it further.

      • Well Most networks are in decline, Fox has given up it’s ‘comparative advantage’ adding the likes of Sally Kohn, carrying the pom poms for Governor Blanc Mange, while the center left like CNN
        are moving toward ‘an increasingly more selective audience,’ the O’Brien dissertation on CRT notwithstanding.

  4. Well Scott, the reverse is somewhat true, Obama’s formative experience led him to conclude that the nuclear freeze didn’t go far enough, ‘Reagan’s dark doings’ presumedly against the insurgents in Central America, led him to community organizing,
    the Iowa Peace Pledge is being followed through, Israel is being forced into a ‘zero barrier’ choice, with Iran, with the real and imagined leaks to Mark Perry, similarly the Siloviki have an ear at the White House, although they despise his economic policy.

  5. Fox has viewers to spare and unfortunately takes them for granted, probably Erin Burnett’s is the only show in the lineup that’s really worth much, Piers Morgan, is outpaced by his predecessor, Fox has watered down the brand,

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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