August 31, 2012

Watching the storm-battered Republican convention at Tampa, Florida, does not reinforce faith in democracy or the Grand Old Party (GOP).

American political conventions traditionally mix back-room horse trading with tasteless hoopla in which mostly white, overweight, middle-aged delegates wear funny outfits and make fools of themselves.

Once upon a time, candidates for president and vice president were actually chosen at conventions by state delegations.

No longer. The Republican convention’s outcome was decided months ago. Candidate Mitt Romney was merely anointed at Tampa as Republican standard bearer. A young, talented Wisconsin congressman, Paul Ryan, became his running mate.

The Tampa event was one long TV commercial designed to beam the Republican party’s message to Americans: lower taxes, banning abortions, more military spending, gutting President Barack Obama’s national healthcare plan.

But a ghost haunted this year’s convention. Dr. Ron Paul was not allowed a prime time speech. The sensible policies he advocates – small government, an end to empire and foreign wars, reducing the mighty influence of Wall Street and Israel over government policies, breaking the power of Big Money – were all shunned by the party.

Dr. Paul’s delegates, about 10% of all primary votes cast, were sidelined or excluded. His many ardent supporters, a good part of them young, were furious and lashed out at the king-makers of GOP’s fixed convention and business as usual policies. A lot of them said they would not vote Republican in November. This loss of votes in what promises to be a tight race against Obama could spell defeat for the GOP.

Foreign policy has been a minor campaign issue so far, except for ritual expressions of fulsome adoration for Israel.

Americans are focused on the sick economy and job losses, not overseas issues. Romney has assembled a foreign policy team chock-a-bloc with retreaded neoconservatives who often sound like members of Israel’s hard right Likud Party. All the neocon fanatics who created the hysteria leading to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 are now back and ready to work their magic on promoting wars against Syria and Iran. Destroying Iran is their key goal.

Romney’s foreign policy advisors are now so far over to the hard right and so warlike that some senior Republican party foreign policy veterans, like James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, are deeply alarmed and are actually backing Obama’s policies.

We see a deep split in the GOP between the new right and traditional East Coast moderates. This is because 44-50% of self-described Republicans today call themselves born-again Christian fundamentalists from the nation’s heartland who support far right domestic and foreign policies and consider a Greater Israel as part of their religious credo. Israel has co-opted almost the entire American Protestant conservative religious movement.

Behind all the fanfare over Romney lurks the key question: Republicans call for greater military spending (today already 50% of total world arms spending), confronting China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, expanding US influence in Africa and the Pacific Ocean. Yet, contradictorily, they vow to cut taxes and shrink the monstrously bloated government created by Republican George W. Bush (a despised figure kept away from Tampa).

Washington taxes its citizens at the level of a small nation yet supports a huge global empire. The US has borrowed billions over the past decade to cover the difference between low income and vast spending. This can’t go on much longer. Debt threatens to capsize the US economy.

Romney is trailing Obama in the polls. But if he somehow wins in November, he will be forced to either raise taxes or cut military and social spending. The latter threat terrifies older Americans who rely on government medical plans and pensions. Women are furious at Romney over the abortion issue and dumb remarks about abortion made by a Republican senatorial candidate from backwards Missouri. Independents, swing voters who could determine the election in key battleground states are fleeing the GOP in growing numbers.

The once mighty Republicans, the party of Abe Lincoln and the great Dwight Eisenhower, may be facing their hurrah. If they lose the 2012 election, the party could splinter and stumble off to irrelevance as a fringe of rural and suburban white right-wingers and Bible Belt religious extremists.
copyright Eric S. Margolis 2012

This post is in: North America, USA


  1. Personally I hope Romney wins for he will bankrupt America in three years and end their influence. Last time I did a prediction was “If The Idiot Bush is re-elected, the American economy will crash shortly before he leaves office.”

  2. “Democracy may be only a few steps removed from Anarchy,
    but at least it’s not as loud.”

    -Andromeda Ascendant.

    Mind you, in the US and of A, that may not be the case. There’s a lot of noise, but little Democracy.

  3. solum temptare possumus says:

    What has happened to the Grand Ole Party when they will not let all viewpoints under the tent. They have cast aside the youth of the party, trodding over Lincoln’s Principles.
    They could learn from the melding of the Canadian parties in the 1930’s; the Progressives and the Conservatives. All inclusive; all viewpoints under an ever expanding tent. NO ONE EXCLUDED.
    The United States political system is destined for a three or more party system, more in line with the rest of the democracies in the world. It is unfortunate that the nurturing of this enlightenment to the American pysche must begin in the graveyard of the GOP.
    It did not have to be so.
    ad iudicium

  4. ..Seems to me..The ones that most need to read the bible are the same ones belting us over the head with it

  5. It’s interesting to note also that there has been little reference to the Bushes, Ronald Reagan, and their other past achievements at the convention. They do not seem to have anything to ‘hold up’ and be proud of…

    • solum temptare possumus says:

      Conversely, the Democratic convention will utilize the public speaking talents of ex-president Clinton, and perhaps a short endorsement of President Obama from ex-president Carter.
      They will do whatever is necessary to see their incumbent safely ensconced in the White House for four more years.
      With the US economy slowly improving, the democratic king makers can only salivate at an improved economy in four years; the accolades for staying the course passing to the next democratic candidate.

      ad iudicium

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