Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Few Thoughts on why the Republican Party is so Attractive to Ex-hippies like Arlo Guthrie and myself,--

(Disclaimer: this is an unfunny post so if you are here strictly for entertainment you can skip it)

Republicans have always valued strategy over tactics and this seems to be a strategy that is working mostly because of a convergence of circumstances that includes the present constituency of the Supreme Court. The recent Supreme Court decisions seem calculated at this point in time, to support this subtle shift in power. Republicans also have a good track record when it comes to (decades later) adopting the policies and methods of those they once opposed. The native distrust of unchecked power which was a driving force of the 1960s protest movements like the Yippees (minus the wild hairstyles and the counter culture image) have thus been adopted by Republicans as a workable model in the present day and thus have given rise to populist movements like the Tea Party that are difficult to control. The Hippy movement of the 60s was based on an unquestioning underlying assumption of shared values as being the source of collective strength. Rulings like Citizen's United and Hobby Lobby are calculated to divert power and shift it to entities that can counterbalance an overbearing federal government based on what Republicans perceive as shared values. So let us not be naive about this because, certainly though they may have become heir to and adopted the socially attractive naivete and 'fight the power' ethos of the hippies, Republicans are far from naive.

Therfore I think those that accuse the Republican Party of being simple-minded obstructionists are missing the point and underestimating the quality of their thinking. The situation needs to be analyzed in the context of a larger national agenda. Because of the electoral system instituted by the founding fathers, so called 'blue states' have long wielded an outsize influence in elections at the national level. The policy of Republicans is therefore to take advantage of present circumstances at a time when the nation is not subject to any perceived existential thereat to intentionally shift power and responsibility back to the states. They thus have settled now on a strategy of paralyzing the national government and thereby counteracting and contracting the outsize influence that, thanks to the electoral college system, is presently wielded by the 'blue' states.

This approach is in accord with their underlying political philosophy and it has long been the Republican ideal, (despite it being the party of Lincoln) of supporting states rights and relying more heavily on the power of the states rather than that of the federal government to resolve problems, while conversely the Democratic ideal has long been to rely on a strong national government to address overarching and endemic issues. Continued distrust in Washington therefore only works to the Republican advantage and they look with sanguine glee on congress' plummeting approval ratings and the lack of collegiality in Washington because it is part of an overall strategy that while personally embarrassing to those members of congress (and the president), seems to be working.

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