The GOP Future and Jon Huntsman

Although it’s possible he believes he has a shot at the nomination, my suspicions are that Jon Huntsman’s ambitions aren’t so much about the White House as about the future direction of the Republican Party.

The GOP pendulum may have swung about as far as it can swing on the crazy/not crazy scale. Its descent into clown show lunacy reached new depths this week at the news that Donald Trump would moderate a GOP debate. Truly, the next step down would have been to sign the candidates up as contestants on Survivor: South Pacific. (Or even better, Survivor: The Bronx. Turn ’em loose at the Grand Concourse with no cars, cell phones, cash, IDs or credit cards. I’d watch.) Of course, they could still opt to skip the debates and just slug it out in a virtual gladiator game.

The GOP establishment is probably hoping against hope they can keep the nomination up in the air long enough to pick Anybody Else in a brokered convention. I can’t think of anyone the establishment would choose who would be an improvement, though. Their idea of a great candidate is Haley Barbour.

Anyway — Nothing remains static for long, The only way the Republican Party can sustain itself on its current trajectory would be a complete takeover of government by K Street and the .01 percent — some would argue this has already happened — followed by a general clamping down of all civil and voter rights — we’re well on the way there, too. That way the Galatian Overlords can rule openly, with impunity, and not even have to go through the motions of winning public favor. And then they would have no more need for the clowns.

I’m speculating that Huntsman thinks the Republican Party has got to start clawing its way back to sanity, sooner or later, and he’s positioning himself to take a leadership role in that process. And I wish him sincere good luck with that.

Meanwhile, mistermix writes,

As Benen and others point out, white lower-middle class males are not a monolithic block, and plenty of them can separate rhetoric from the economic realities of their situation. No Democrat has been trying to replace Medicare with a voucher or invest their Social Security in the stock market, and lots of lower-middle class white males know that. But what about the others—those who will vote for Republican against their economic interests to further some other ill-defined interest? What even motivates these voters?

A social theorist, or a think tank researcher, would have a number of explanations centering around tribalism, false consciousness and perhaps a wee bit of racism. I don’t have any of those credentials, so I’ve got no theories, but I do get the distinct impression that chasing after any group of voters whose main motivation is essentially irrational is a pointless exercise if there’s any alternative.

I learned a long time ago that you cannot appease crazy people with rationality. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to deal with someone who is genuinely mis-wired — someone in the workplace or your family, so you couldn’t just walk away — you learne that the only way to interact with them is to meet them somewhere in Crazyland.

For example, if your Aunt believes she is Queen Elizabeth I, and you want her to climb down off the roof, you will probably resort to telling her that Sir Walter Raleigh has arrived and requests an audience. And really, it’s no different with somebody who is neurotic or paranoid or psychopathic; you don’t deal with the person, you interface with the pathology.

So some years ago the GOP decided the cheap and easy way to dominate politics was to cultivate crazy and appeal to worst instincts. So now they’re locked into campaigning in Crazyland, because that’s where their base is. And the result is that their nomination process has turned into a clown show.

And it really isn’t sustainable. I’m not saying the GOP will implode next week; there’s enough money behind it to keep it on life support for a long time. As a political front for special interests, some parts of it probably will keep going for many years, no matter what. But it also wouldn’t surprise me to see it make some kind of massive shift, eventually; either to break apart or to rebuild itself as a serious political party.

13 thoughts on “The GOP Future and Jon Huntsman

  1. I’ve been reading up on the founders lately, partly motivated by the ravings of Constitution-thumpers like Michele Bachmann and other idiots like her. And of course Michele Bachmann is awfully lucky that most of the people she talks to are too lazy to read a whole paragraph of 18th century English, because these guys had her number. You want to understand what’s up with the GOP these days, just read Madison:

    Complaints are everywhere heard from our most considerate and virtuous citizens, equally the friends of public and private faith, and of public and personal liberty, that our governments are too unstable, that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority. However anxiously we may wish that these complaints had no foundation, the evidence, of known facts will not permit us to deny that they are in some degree true. It will be found, indeed, on a candid review of our situation, that some of the distresses under which we labor have been erroneously charged on the operation of our governments; but it will be found, at the same time, that other causes will not alone account for many of our heaviest misfortunes; and, particularly, for that prevailing and increasing distrust of public engagements, and alarm for private rights, which are echoed from one end of the continent to the other. These must be chiefly, if not wholly, effects of the unsteadiness and injustice with which a factious spirit has tainted our public administrations.

    By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

    Or Washington:

    All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.—They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force—to put in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party;—often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community;—and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils, and modified by mutual interests.—However combinations or associations of the above descriptions may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People, and to usurp for themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.—

  2. Jon Huntsman is the only one of the candidates who is recognizable as a traditional Republican at this point. And look at his numbers!

  3. Frankly, I’m glad the producers of the Republican show are mixing it up and looking for a fresh concept. That “we’re politicians trying to decide how best to govern the country” theme was pretty stale. It’ll be great to hear Donald Trump declare to one of the field “You’re fired!” at the end of the debate.

    And your idea of Survivor: the Bronx has me thinking they could remake the classic film The Warriors to good effect. Stranded in an OWS encampment in a liberal city, hounded by teachers, unionists, and dirty hippies, they have to make their way back to a CPAC convention in Dallas. “Republicans… come out and play-ay!” It’ll make a great double-feature with Red Dawn!

    I really have been getting pretty bored by the show so far. I mean, House works with a predictable formula, but who thought “We pick a front runner, then there is a scandal, and then we pick a new front runner” would work consistently week-to-week?

    There’s plenty of competition on TV. For example, the characters on Terra Nova are equally shallow, impractical and stupid, but at least that show has cool dinosaur effects. It’s about time the GOP took their show up a notch.

  4. Bush II is in Africa, talking to people about HIV prevention (maybe Herman cain should listen!) and *Cervical cancer* (gardisil?). The current crop of hopefuls (esp. Bachmann) is trying its level best to make Bush II look statesmanlike, by comparison! A frightful thought.

  5. Biggerbox, I can’t believe you are not satisfied with the “cool dinosaur effects” currently in use by the Republican party. I’m presently watching Herman Cain’s live appearance in Atlanta ACCOMPANIED BY HIS WIFE!!!!! If that marriage is not a prehistoric remnant, I don’t know what is!

  6. If that’s what he’s doing, I wish Huntsman success in his Quixotic attempts to ‘un-right’ the Republican Party.
    Talk about tilting at windbags.

    And I, for one, can’t wait for the debate that Trump’s going to moderate. Just the thought of him and Newt on the same stage, makes me hope it turns into “A Steel-cage Death Match of Ego’s.” I know they won’t be debating, but they won’t be able to resist sniping at one another. That’s what happens when you have two overweight mental Chihuahua’s thinking they’re intellectual Doberman’s.
    This could be like Godzilla versus Rodan – only the combatant’s won’t be as good looking, smart, charming or compassionate. Godzilla and Rodan are, after all, only monsters – not Grifters.

  7. Actually Huntsman’s as rightwing as the rest of them, very conservative, but he doesn’t go infor the Obama is the Devil routine, so teh base won’t listen to him. Great quotes from Madison and Wash. Federalist #10 speaks to exactly what we struggle with these days, the dominance of factions (parties or special interests). Madison thought the answer was in the form of gov’t that they’d created, but the parties have pretty much circumnavigated around that. We don’t have the type of gov’t our founders envisioned, which is good in quite a few things. But we’ve kept some of the vestiges of the old things and have NOT improved on them, causing the stalemate we’re currently in. Americans are NOT very good at organizing functioning systems, we typically just let them evolve, but we’re very good at demonizing and blaming people (the kids in the innner-cities all have awful teachers, that’s why they don’t learn). I, for one, do not have much hope for the current system or for a manageable change that could help out.

  8. After listening to my mother-in-law’s views on politics, social consciousness and rudimentary economics, it was clear that she should have been a Democrat. She wasn’t. Asked why she was a Republican, she had no IDEA, no explanation and what was even scarier, had no intention of ever changing parties. I suspect that she was not an unusual Republican.

  9. Huntsman scares the righties ‘cuz he speaks Chinese, could be one of them in a clever disguise (or somethin’)

    Speaking a foreign language is a detriment when it comes to the Repuke base. They feel threatened by someone who isn’t as provincial and stupid as they are. Which is why they loved W Bush so much.

  10. We must not forget that the Republican goal for at least the last 30 years is to privatize what is now in the public domain – prisons (good start already) the military (likewise a good start) education, the post office, health care (totally) Social Security… Privatizing government jobs will cost us 87% more money. And that cost will be born by what’s left of the middle class – the poor will have died off by then.

    Huntsman may make the Republican agenda sound less obnoxious, but he’s headed in the same direction as the Party has been for years.

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