Monday, June 9, 2014

Greece, The far right and the GOP!

Watching Greece over the past few months has been an education, and education in the rise of fascism! Turns out that the Greek population in general is not enamoured with its politicians and their current method of "saving the country"  The new favourite pastime for the middle class (well educated at that) is to support Golden Dawn a avowed  fascist  party that is "blaming the Jews" for all that has befallen the country.

Granted financiers have a lot to answer for, but they're not the ones who spent like drunken sailors -- yes bankers were enablers, but... at any rate in local election Golden Dawn which is just short of being thugs (actually not that short) and who have committed some rather appalling actions (and enjoy a bit of Nazi salut) got almost 10% of the vote.

It's really not that surprising; considering the state of the economy, the unemployment and destruction of the middle class that a far right party would take hold of the popular imagination.  They are not the first to blame the "foreigners" for their problems -- it was after all the reality faced by Germans after WW1 and the treaty of Versailles that made sure that Germany could never recover.  The hardship imposed -- the cost of reparation all made a radical Austrian's view sound reasonable and action necessary to remove the leadership of the country in favour of Nazism.  BTW its not because I understand the outcome that I support the outcome, but its somewhat predictable.

The far right (FOX news ha ha) has long been able to tap into the fears of ordinary people, especially when their values are no longer recognized (whether they were real or not to start with) by their government; abortion, gay rights,  gay marriage, immigration etc...  so the attractiveness of certain candidates that speak to your values your desire for some kind of "white picket fence", and small town sensibility -- or really some anti-Rambo phenomena!  Where the people that are different are kept away (or at least hidden).  The anti-immigration rant of the Tea Party is a case and point, its not so much that America doesn't like brown people is just they White America doesn't want to see them, clean my house mow my lawn, but you don't get to go to my kids school! America has found in local government a re-segregation tool that it has welded with impunity!  Schools in America (public schools) have not been as segregated since the 1950s -- all that by re-drawing school districts, keeping poor neighbourhood away from the all white schools.

The use of certain language in America's far right, the use of code word, something that the neo-Nazi groups have made into an art form, is now finding itself in the mainstream of the political process. Often the talk of "community" or "shared values" is used to exclude non-white from the discussions.  The current voter's disinfringement process via photo ID has been driven by the fear of "voter fraud", which simply doesn't exist in America. America's real problem is that people simply don't vote.  Amusingly some GOP politicians have admitted (on TV) that the real goal of voter ID is really a "keep the democrats away from the ballot box.

The GOP's problem is serious, an aging voter base, a pandering to fear and loathing has made the party generally unattractive to young voters and ethnic voters -- with rare exceptions if you are brown, black of Asian the GOP holds little real interest for you (despite the fact that the GOP's anti-abortion stand would usually play very well with the very catholic spanish speaking population), The GOP is facing a demographic problem -- its supporters are dying of old age!  If the GOP was a normal party it would be able to re-invent itself, but there are powerful forces that stop this move to the left:

  1. The hard right controls the GOP at the local level, these activists (supporter of the Tea Party) are able to push the current officer holder towards their views by threatening to support a more radical person.  In America politics is 100% local
  2. Talk radio's core reactionary values -- and dollars/cents livelihood depends on a sense of moral outrage.  Nothing has to be true, it can be a pack of lies, for the listeners it doesn't matter they will have forgotten the topic within 2 days.  Talk radio finds its "voice" in a reactionary (slightly racist -- like your grandmother) view of the world and it pays the bills too!
  3. The GOP doesn't have an Obama or Clinton that inspire (not saying these guys are/were perfect) but like Tony Blair in the UK they could shift their party -- GOP doesn't have those voices
  4. The GOP's new "anti-science" view of the world is a brand new expression of 'know nothing"  a desire for the world to be the way you want it to be, without any regards to how the world really works.  "I'm not a scientist" is the new (5/6 months) mantra of the GOP.  That way they can say stupid things "because they are not scientists" -- who they generally despise anyway
  5. On a more general note, lobbies have taken the complete control of America's political process.  The ability of lobbies (starting with the NRA) to scuttle elections makes them immensely powerful.  Forcing elected official in specific directions
The GOP's inability to find an alternative (anything at all) to the ACA "Obamacare" speaks volume to the GOP's breakdown.  Despite having the desire to strike down the ACA -- they tried over 50 times, when asked what would the GOP offer instead -- there's simply nothing available.  No ideas, no thoughts, no plan just nothing at all.  The GOP has ceased to be a national party -- any big ideas any shift in policy (aside from "supporting our troops" -- as long as it doesn't include the Veteran's administration) is simply absent.  There is no policy, there are no idea -- except to make government small enough so that it can be drowned in a bathtub!

Aside from being a "funny-ish" line about the role of government -- the reality is that governments have to play a roll in the economy.  It is often very efficient -- other times less so!


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