(October 2011…notice neither Romney nor Santorum are mentioned….)
Hopefully someone will write a New Yorker piece (or a book) on the story of the Cain campaign…it’d be a great read. Actually, The Making of the President 2012 is so far a hell of a story. First wide open nomination race in a long time. Probably the best so far since 1976. Now that was a helluva campaign. The two best ever were probably 1968 and 1976. Though 1960 was a great one. Still, it was primarily backroom even then, only a couple key primaries (mainly Wisconsin). 1968 was the collapse of the old system and the emergence of the primaries (for Democrats) and the last great backroom campaign (for the GOP). So many wild cards that year, craziness. You read American Melodrama? By a trio of English reporters. Great bit of history, that. 1976 was the penultimate campaign, though. The wildest primary season (the Democrats) and the last great convention floor battle (the GOP)…..Ford’s nomination on the first ballot was up in the air still. It was a credentials battle, and it all came down to one state–Mississippi–and finally one delegate, some poor undecided lady. She nearly had a nervous breakdown as the pressure on her was so intense. Finally she voted to seat the Ford delegation (I can’t remember from what state) and with that, the numbers put Ford over (barely) on the first ballot. Carter, by the way, was the Herman Cain of that campaign. I remember thinking that the first time I heard the guy’s name. Some ridiculous character from way outta left field (right field?) running without a chance, just like Jimmy Carter. We’ll see what happens. Never underestimate the wild card candidates. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama were utterly ridiculous in the beginning. The Republicans have never had an total unknown as a nominee, let alone a president…the Abe Lincoln presidency created a massively powerful and centralized GOP that has been dominated by big business and big government…a combo created by the Union war effort in the Civil War. They lost control of the party only once–in 1964–and by 1966 the rules and structure had been changed to prevent that from ever happening again. The Reagan people in 76 were a neo-Goldwater movement. They changed strategy and pretty much took over, assimilated, or recruited the establishment by 1980. I think Nixon so controlled the establishment party that it went down with him….1976 was a massacre, and the Republicans that came back in ’78 were a new breed, very tough conservatives. The Reagan people had done what Nixon did after 1964 and rebuilt the party at the state level, and co-opting the party without having to seize it in 1980. The Reagan coalition–including the completelty assimilated south of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which is what gave it electoral majorities based on states without needing the more sophisticated but under-represented urban/suburban votes of the Northeast, upper midwest and California–not to mention the south’s blacks who by undervoting assured Republican majories) completely controlled the GOP from 1980-2004. But in 2008 things were slipping. Sarah Palin showed that. The GOP had withstood the war in Iraq without problems, no anti-war movement sundered it. And though moderates were leaving its ranks in droves–it is really small right now–the survuvung rank and file seemed unfazed by the vast corruption that afflcited it. Then Wall Street caved in, the housing bubble burst, the economy collapsed almost to the point of Depression. And a black man was elected President. The economic collapse tore the party to shreds (while consolidating the Democrats), and the fact of a black president brought out all kinds of demented weirdness in the party’s southern base. We forget now that the election of an Irish Catholic president helped eventually to bring about George Wallace as a presidential candidate. At the time, though, he and his supporters were a Democratic problem, not a Republican one. Nixon turned them into Republicans, which was fine, until they began to get weird again (as our Southern civilization tends to periodically). Once Bubba freaks, there’s no controlling him. Think of 1860. And right now it’s that huge GOP base in the south that is tearing the GOP to pieces. Just like it cost Humphrey the election in 1968. Fragmented and crazy, the GOP race seems utterly mad at times (and it hasn’t even started, officially!). There are so many southerners in its ranks, and so much of the conservative media is dependent on southern viewers/listeners/readers for revenue, that the candidates have to tack hard right to appeal to those voters. They control the GOP the same way the southern states controlled the Democrats for decades. They are uncompromising, they vote on only a few issues, they are unforgiving of dissent and deep down do not trust anyone who isn’t a southerner. Furthermore, the fact that the GOP is based on a lot of states with smaller populations means that there are more primaries of significance (think South Carolina) than in the Democratic party, which means there are more potential ways to win the nomination and therefore more candidates. And since the Reagan establishment went down with the Bush Administration, mired in big money and corruption and incompetence, there is no central authority, nor even a center that tends to bring everyone together. Hence a Cain has a chance. Or a failed governor of Alaska, a lunatic from Minnesota, and a governor who threatened to secede from the United States. It’s so weird that Newt Gingrich is an establishment candidate. Imagine that. And imagine a party so unpredictably weird and flighty that the candidates running now are all considered potentially viable. Not one is too loonie to be considered absolutely un-nominatable. They would be in the Democratic party. Nobody would pay attention to them. But in the GOP….well, who knows? When Michelle Bachmann became a legitemate leader and not just a batshit crazy flake then, well, anything is possible. And when anything is possible, white southern republicans can suddenly find themselves really liking a black candidate from Georgia. Why? Well…why not?
I remember people telling me that the election of a black president wouldn’t make much difference. Attitudes would stay the same. I said I doubted it. After JFK, Irish jokes stopped. It’s not that they weren’t funny anymore, it’s just that they didn’t make sense. The stereotype disappeared. It’s happening now, too. The racist crap you see in the comments sections on the news sites, well those are the hold outs. People find them offensive. People think those people are hung up. That they are wrong and the jokes are not funny. Once you have a black president those things just don;t seem funny anymore. The color line disappears. The fact that the leading man to run against a black president right now is another black man is absolutely mindfuckingly revolutionary…and no one even notices. Instead we talk about his tax plan. Now, imagine the pressure this puts on a lot of conservative white southerners. Imagine the problem a lot of them have with this. Imagine how deep down appalled a lot of the GOP is in the south. You add that to a fucked up economy, the monolithic Reagan conservatism that is but a memory, and the steady decline of fundamentalist religion and wow, were talking virtual anomie. We’ll see if it can coalesce together in time, or if it’ll continue to fragment. The GOP has never handled factionalism well. Not at all. The winning side had always exterminated the losers. RINOs are expelled. And the losers take they votes (and money and energy) and go home.
I haven’t read a word of this. Just wrote it without reading it. No idea if it makes any sense. All I’m saying is that the GOP is in for one hell of an entertaining ride. And it’ll make great history.
Fingers are tired, see ya!