Friday, September 23, 2016

A Thought About the Republican Party

This is just something I have been thinking about.  I can't say I have much confidence in its validity, but it makes sense to me today, so I will just shoot my mouth off about it.

The Republican party, for about a hundred years (Let's say from the time of Taft or Teddy Roosevelt up until the Bushes) was really dominated by a few very rich families.  Either their choices, or their actual relatives, were the ruling members of the party, and its selections for high office.  That worked out pretty well, although a couple of low-class outsiders like Nixon and Reagan managed to weasel their way into the White House, but by the 21st century, the party had sort of run out of traditional families like that.  The last sort of mainline old style Conservative to run for President was McCain, the son of a right wing admiral; after that, the party was out of ammo, as witnessed by the endless run of charlatans who have sought their Presidential nomination since then.  So, the Republicans seem to have adopted what I call the "artillery strategy."

Between World War I and World War II there was a great deal of progress in the aiming of artillery.  By early in World War II, massive books of tables involving millions of computations had been compiled to enable artillery to be aimed with some degree of accuracy, given distance, elevation, wind speed, etc.*  However, what I am talking about was the practice before that time, which traditionally involved firing two rounds, one deliberately short of the mark and one past it, seeing where they landed and using that information to set cannons to hit the target.

That is sort of what has happened in the last two Presidential elections, although probably not intentionally.  In 2012, with Romney, the Republicans undershot, and selected the sort of semi-rich sociopath who could be counted on to do every single thing the real rich guys wanted, but there was no way they could pass him off as a man of the people.  This time around, they did the opposite.  They picked a guy who had years of experience on TV honing his appeal to the unthinking, but who was in the end totally out of control.

Next time around, I am afraid (assuming Trump loses and there is a next time around) the Republicans are going to be shooting for the target.  They know what they need now- someone who is a robot totally in their control, but who can do an adequate job of faking being a real human being.  It is going to be a real test of our progress toward artificial intelligence to find such a candidate, but I think they may well be up to it.

*As a side note: until at least the middle of World War II, these computations were done by hand, by massive numbers of government employees who were called "computers."  When machines were developed to do a lot of this tedious work automatically, they were called computers too, and we were off to the races.


St. Joan said...

Here are some now:

Paul Wartenberg said...

They know what they need now- someone who is a robot totally in their control, but who can do an adequate job of faking being a real human being.

I measure out such things using Barber's Presidential Character traits. What you're talking about is someone who can be congenial enough to express empathy upon command while pulling off such soul-rending disasters as dismantling the social safety net.

That would be someone along the lines of a Ronald Reagan, a master of projecting a friendly, likable persona while presiding over an administration that committed massive acts of fraud while deregulating worker safety protections, cutting back on social aid, and promoting a business ethos of greed that still permeates our financial institutions. You're talking about the Republicans finding someone like him for 2020, someone with a Passive-Positive Congenial style.

The good news is, I doubt the Republicans even HAVE anyone Passive-Positive among their ranks anymore.

The party's ongoing purge of moderates - the RINO Hunt - has left them both a party agenda and a lineup of potential leadership that all leans (with few exemptions) towards the Active-Negative, self-destructive traits (think Nixon/LBJ) that can go nowhere NEAR the Congenial style needed to win.

The GOP has been desperate for another St. Ronnie for years. Why else did they huddle around the questionable talents of Bush the Lesser in 2000? Because he was the closest they could get to a Passive-Positive (all the while surrounding him with Active-Negatives like Cheney).

And yet, in 2008 and 2012 and 2016 when they needed such Congenial showmanship, what did they get instead? A platoon of Active-Negative types (and in Mitt's and Jeb's cases Passive-Negatives driven by familial Duty) all clinging to a harsh anti-government ideology that brokers no room for genuine (or FAKE) empathy needed to play Congenial.

I kept blogging this year about the Far Right media's hilariously painful floundering for a Savior candidate to rise up and save their Narrative. They keep looking for a charismatic friendly face that they could pretend is St. Ronnie reborn, hoping it could be any one of these middling corrupt governors or vacant-eyed senators. And they kept getting Trump - a clown whose faux populism is based on rage not empathy - shoved back at them. None of the other potential candidates could even fake it. And yet the Beltway elites keep dreaming that they'll get their Savior candidate. But where can they even see one, among the throng of Active-Negatives left among their ranks?