Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Koch Bros and GOP At War Over Voter Data

The Republican National Committee’s data arm last year called it a “historic” occasion when it struck a deal to share voter information with the Koch brothers’ rapidly expanding political empire. Oops... Read the story at Yahoo

What was once a staid, mainstream political party full of Rotary Club businessmen, hard-scrabble farmers and pillars of America’s communities has become a boisterous bunch of rebellious revolutionaries. The origin story of how this came to pass is well documented in histories like Rick Perlstein’s “Before the Storm” “Nixonland” and “The Invisible Bridge,” which (among other things) trace the spirit that rose out of the rubble of the 1964 debacle of the Goldwater campaign and grew into the movement that has dominated American politics for over 30 years.

Its ideology became a matter of faith-based adherence to abstract principles about “freedom” and “small government” even as the Republican Party made a devil’s bargain with both the religious right, which sought to enforce “family values,” and the military industrial complex, which grew to gargantuan proportions under both parties. These alliances were strategic moves by the Party elders seeking a winning governing coalition and it worked beautifully for decades. They formed a strong “conservative” identity out of this coalition, while demonizing the identity of liberalism to such an extent that liberals were forced to abandon it altogether and adopt another name to describe themselves.

Meanwhile, the party banked on overweening victimization among its mainly white, resentful voters in the wake of the revolution in law and culture that began in the 1960s with civil rights for minorities and the economic and social changes that sent women pouring into the workplace and changing the traditional organization of family and home. This too worked very well for quite some time. Fear, anger and resentment of everything from racial integration to middle class stagnation to imaginary foreign threats became intrinsic to the Republican identity.

All of this was of great benefit to the Republican party’s electoral success and the message discipline within the echo chamber of their partisan media ensured that the ideology among the various strands of the Republican coalition held together in what sounded like a coherent program. But it never really was coherent.

Freedom and small government are often in conflict with social conservatism which seeks to enshrine its religious values into law. Small government and low taxes are in conflict with an imperial foreign policy and national security establishment that demands vast sums of money and requires that much of it be spent in secret. Essentially the three legs of the GOP bar stool have always been in tension.

The party started to lose its bearings as long ago, as in the ’90s when it took on the self-righteousness of a religious crusade with its unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of a Democratic president.

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