The problem with politics is that it is too mercurial. McCain is up, then down, then up. Obama is finished, but he’s not, losing white voters, gaining white voters. And, of course, Wright, the economy, Bush, Iraq, a great speech here, a lousy remark there.
And all the while right wing radio and FOX on television present this weird alternate reality. Obama is a Muslim who worships Jeremiah Wright, Iraq is going swimmingly, America’s minorities are pampered, prosperity is just around the corner, it is okay to out American spies if they are married to Democrats. Democrats are going down, down, down. The drumbeat goes on.
It is hard to see the forest. No perspective. No overall.
So, every once in a while, I look up the latest Pew research on the direction of politics. I think of Fox News. Then I sleep well at night.
Most folks I know are familiar with the basics but do not connect the dots:
- The Republican Party is shrinking.
- It is increasingly dominated by a conservative base.
- Conservatives are growing zanier by the minute.
- Conservative policies do not work.
- Fox and cronies do not present the truth in any coherent way.
Those in charge of political parties once had a major incentive to change their working policies when current thought processes were losing elective offices. Here is where FOX comes in. They present an alternate reality that drives the Republican base to the right, maintaining its energy, and propping it up. That zany base is shrinking, but too slowly to lose its grip on the party. And it remains robust, as right wingers buy into that alternate reality.
So the Republican Party moves to the right, while the rest of the country, influenced by real reality, moves mildly toward center left.
Republican office holders are faced with a Hobson’s choice. They can act rationally and get defeated in primaries. Or they can act like lunatics and get clobbered in each general election.
The GOP has become the incredible shrinking party, charging to the extreme right while rational Republicans peel off, becoming "recovering Republicans".
As long as this sort of equipoise, this constructive balance, is maintained, the moon howling part of the conservative base will shrink but stay strong enough to drag the GOP with it.
The Republic will owe the benefits largely to Fox News and conservative radio. May they live on for as long as it takes.
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