Thursday, October 16, 2008

The GOP is adrift

I missed the debate live last night but watching the highlights today it's disconcerting to watch McCain launch attacks as though the fever swamps of the right-wing blogosphere are in any way repsresentative of the American public. The middle and working classes in this country are going through some of the toughest times in generations and he simply cannot connect with them on those issues. Is it because he's too rich? Probably a little. Is it because the GOP has become so insular they have lost the ability to connect their policies to real Americans? Probably more than a little.

Joe Klein had an excellent post-debate post up at Time's blog last night. A sampling,

I thought McCain was near-incomprehensible when talking about policy, locked in the coffin of conservative thinking and punditry. He spoke in Reagan-era shorthand. He thought that merely invoking the magic words "spread the wealth" and "class warfare" he could neutralize Obama.

But those words and phrases seem anachronistic, almost vestigial now. Indeed, they have become every bit as toxic as Democratic social activist proposals--government-regulated and subsidized health care, for example--used to be. We have had 30 years of class warfare, in which the wealthy strip-mined the middle class. The wealth has been "spread" upward. The era when Democrats could only elect Presidents from the south, who essentially promised to take the harsh edge off of conservatism, is over. Barack Obama is the most unapologetic advocate of government activism since Lyndon Johnson--which is not to say that his brand of activism will be the same as Johnson's (we've learned a lot about the perils of bureacracy and the value of market incentives since then)--and he seems to be giving the public exactly what it wants this year. Who knows? Maybe even the word "liberal" can now be uttered in mixed company again.

He's exactly right. You see it all over the right-wing - from pundits to bloggers to their top politicians. They cry socialism!, class warfare!, teh Gheys!! and assorted culture war nonsense as if this were still 1980. The GOP's message is simply not resonating with Americans after 30 years of GOP economics and social policies have left their wages stagnant, their jobs in danger and their health care in jeopardy. Most Americans don't have the luxury of worrying about gay marriage right now, they're worried about keeping their homes. 

The GOP base has an absolute tin-ear to the concerns of most Americans. Their extremism is out there for all the world to see now. 

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