The Destruction Of The Republican Party

OK, the 2012 election will be a watershed, not because Barack Obama will win re-election, but because we will witness the destruction of the Republican party as we know it.

David Frum lays out the various scenarios here.

You’ll notice that, even the positions where he has Republicans winning, the road is much tougher than it is for Obama. For example, assume Mitt Romney is nominated. He has a hard time corraling 30% of the GOP vote now in the primaries. That lack of enthusiasm will work against him, as it did McCain, in 2012. It’s unlikely that a candidate who can’t pull a third of his own party a year out will win an election against a popular center-right Democrat.

If Romney is nominated and loses the general (the most likely scenario,) the Tea Party could bolt the Republican party completely. “See? We told you. Nominate someone we don’t like, and he loses. It’s happened twice now!”

And if by some dint of luck, a Teabagger like Perry or Palin is nominated, and loses, the establishment Republicans will throw their hands up in disgust. It will be a cold day in hell before the moneymen start ponying up for the party, prefering to sit it out and wait for a better crop of candidate to pop up.

But who? Marco Rubio, the Senator from Florida has his own “birther” issues, and if the Teabaggers do succeed in getting one of their own in, they will effectively gain control of the machinery. Rubio will be dead in the water. Rick “Lex Luthor” Scott? Not particularly popular even in his own state, and a similar problem faces Scott Walker.

They’d have to dig very very deep to find a plausible candidate in 2016. It’s possible that Jeb Bush could make a run at rehabilitating the Bush name in time for that election, and there’s always the Chris Christie card (but then, Christie will have had another four years to alienate his own state, yet again.)

And if you think on the final possibility, the impossible possibility of a Teabagger winning the election, we’ll be stuck with four years of internal bickering that makes the battle between Democrats and Republicans look like a sandbox squabble.

While the nation burns.

The backdrop to all these machinations is the very collapse of American society, something Niall Ferguson gets into in his Daily Beast column. I rarely agree with his conclusions, but I think his analysis has some merit. It’s very likely that we are watching the destruction of America as a society as we knew it. Not in the Roman fashion, with Vandal and Visigoth invaders, but in the manner of the Soviet Union, crushed under the weight of its own hubris and inability to understand jus thow devastated its citizenry was.

Complete with our own Solidarity movement, the Occupy Wall Streeters.

Ferguson breaks down the rise of western society around the 1500s into five separate sectors (what he clumsily calls “killer apps”.) How many of these still apply to America, much less the west?

Western societies divided into competing factions, leading to progressive improvements.

Breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Representative government based on private-property rights and democratic elections.

19th- and 20th-century advances in germ theory, antibiotics, and anesthesia.

Leaps in productivity combined with widespread demand for more, better, and cheaper goods.

Combination of intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.

We no longer have competition that grows us, ours divides us. Competition towards growth has been stifled by the very “capitalist system” we espouse. We no longer lead the world in scientific breakthroughs, altho this is less true in Europe than it is here. Law in America is a joke, as it can be bought and malleated by corporate money. Medicine, we may still lead the way in terms of quality of care, but that care is all but unaffordable and our research labs are dry as a bone for medical advances, having lost most of our good doctors back to the nations they came from (China, Korea, India.)

Consumer society speaks for itself. We’ve borrowed ourselves, at the behest of our corporate overlords, into bankruptcy.

And the work ethic is a sham. Americans work longer hours and are more productive not because they want to be competitive. They do that just to keep up the standard of living they’ve had for the past thirty years– in other words, paying off that massive debt. They aren’t earning more money for their efforts and there’s no incentive to work any harder or more efficiently beyond that.

This, too, will impact the Republican party, the one most visibly tied to the failed capitalist system that we claim to espouse, the party with the closest ties to the corporatocracy that has killed America.

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  • Republicans are enthusiastic about voting in 2012. Democrats don’t even have an actual Democrat to vote for. Instead, we have Obama and the Blue Dogs, and none of them believe in the New Deal, the Fair Deal or the basic Democratic principles that led me to be a Democrat* in the first place. Hell, they don’t even believe in the rule of law. In their eyes, laws are for the little people (really just a mechanism of control), not for them.

    *No longer consider myself a Dem. Won’t vote for Obama under any circumstance any more than I would vote for GW Bush.

  • The republican tea party base wants somenone that doesn’t currently exist in the lineup. They appear to be waiting for that person to show up. Perry is therefore being prepped and remade so that he can be this candidate but there is little confidence in him. He sounds bumbling and is a bit too much like GWB. There is no enthusiasm for Romney – zero. Cain may be the leader now but I don’t think he really wants the POTUS job anyway and will flame out.

  • the Dems, that understand what being a Democrat is, will have trouble voting for Obama. So if another Nader presents himself, some repuke might very well be elected.

  • Many definitely wont vote for him. They will sit out or go 3rd party. His presidency would marginalize their current status in congress.

  • salivating, must China, India and the East be, watching America go down the drain still hanging by the flush chain. And Russia; The US was so joyfull when Soviet Union crashed that it was bordering indecency.

  • China and India are circling the drain too my friend.

    The mess they are in is endless. Water shortages, horrific air pollution, desertification and wind storms, grain shortages, an inability to move coal to power plants, can’t provide electricity right now on a 24/7 schedule. Factories get scheduled times for electricity. The impoverished in China total more than the entire population of the United States, and they are crushing around the Cities. China has invoked a Visa system for their own citizens. You can’t move from your village without a visa. The list goes on and on.

    At the end of the day United States has water, the capacity to grow sufficient food for its population, is independent in natural gas, coal and produces over half its own oil.

    No other country can assemble that list of resources.

  • In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • No, look anywhere else please.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Some of us have seen it coming for a long, long time. Fergussen’s late to the party. Strip away the ideological overlay, and the two nations are stunningly similar.

  • The barbarians were only the straw that broke the Roman back. Like the USSR and the USA, it was a hollowed out society and ripe for collapse when the barbarians showed up. It was dependent on imported food and on its military empire. It had an inbred political class that was corrupt and focused on its own, narrow interests. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    But that’s beside the point and doesn’t really detract from his argument.

  • Just as America was collapsing for decades before Al Qaeda struck, even in the 1993 bombing.

    It’s like a game of Jenga. Pegs have been pulled for a lonnnng time. The Vandals and Visigoths were just the lucky pegs.

  • Look at how many Democrats will sit out Obama’s re-election in protest. Hell, look at how many voted Nader when the writing of a Bush administration was on the wall! They’d rather watch the nation burn, as they see it.

    There is a significant distrust of the man who invented the national healthcare program, who was pro-abortion before he was pro-life, and who was practically a Democrat when he ran Massachussetts.

    The Tea Party will stay home in droves.

  • At the end of the day United States has water, the capacity to grow sufficient food for its population, is independent in natural gas, coal and produces over half its own oil.

    ….has no money to do anything with them.

    Sure, China is likely to pop in 2012. Obama at the G-20 is going to encourage this by telling the EU to go borrow from China, the US can’t assist with foreign aid. That’s a deliberate provocation to Hu to ante up money he can’t afford.

    India is a different story. You mention their technology problems, which are formidable to be sure, but there’s not much on their plate that can’t be solved with sheer bloodyminded manpower.

  • is no where near as bad off monetarily as Europe. US debt is also denominated in the same currency they pay it back in. No country has that system except Germany, and they have the PIGS tied to their back (Portugal, Italy Greece, Spain). Our tax load right now is among the lowest in the world. Honestly, the ‘deficit’ in this country is a total fiction that is the result of the wealthy holding congress hostage. The debt in this country could be paid in the same manner it was in the 1950s after WWII. China’s debts are all kept off-book. We can’t even know what they are, other than all the various State Banks there which will not issue their balance sheets. These are the entities the Chinese Government puts all their non performing assets.

    India is on the cusp of severe water shortages. The country is not independent in any major energy resource. The infrastructure in the country is a shambles, and the caste system there arrests education opportunity and mobility.

  • Rome never fell. It relocated its capital to the better defended Constantinople. Rome continued into the 1500s until sea lanes opened and shut down the benefit of the silk road. Italy remained a highly developed and wealthy area well beyond 400. The west was largely abandoned by the Romans as they turned east.

    By 800 the Carolinian Empire emerged by Charlemagne, which successfully merged the Frank and Germanic regions for the first time. Not even the Romans were ever able to do that. That was the seed of the EU merger ever since.

    The western regions were very dependent on the manufactured goods of Rome, and the severing of those trade routes were quite hard on Britain and France, maybe Greece. But little more.

    Rome was a land locked country, more like Russia is. And had none of the technology to leverage troops that exist today. Rome was never a sea power, they tended to be heavily focused on the land for some reason. The desertification of Northern Africa also had a huge impact on their social programs of providing food for people. So they had an emerging water problem, more like India and China. Rome was spending something like 30% of their budget on the military compared to 4% in the United States. Rome was buried in a terrible crime epidemic on the west side and was another reason they wanted out of the region. There is no similar crime issue here, in fact crime in the US is amazingly at all time lows.

    The Rome comparison is simply not relevant. The geography and resource base of the United States is completely different. I have a very hard time identifying a ‘collapse’ scenario here. I can see gradual decline, that is more a high energy cost scenario. But it would be gradual. There is a cultural cohesiveness in the United States that is highly unique, an ability to laugh at oneself, to give aid (US has the highest rate of giving in the world). These are all cultural features hard to fully understand. There is no corollary of giving anywhere else in the world.

    I just don’t see a ‘collapse’ scenario. Not at this time. We had one sector go down, finance, in 2008 and what I saw was resiliency in the recovery. We had a foreclosure crisis, but it was not as bad as in 1981; and what we saw was the absorption of people into other households as people opened up their homes to friends and family. Again, that openness preserved people in times of crisis. The US simply has a highly resilient and innovative CULTURE. That can overcome many many problems.

  • and they tend to impact the continually vulnerable people of the world. The regions of the world that LACK the treasures located in the United States.

    I worry mightily about a series of droughts which impact multiple continents, likely due to climate change. But equally likely from ocean currents or surface temperature changes. This has happened in the 30s, in the 60s and in the 70s. We have not had anything like it since.

    What is different is there are 7 billion mouths to feed, not 3 billion or less. There is a terrible drought right now in China, and they are importing more food than ever, but it is available because of good harvests in other places. Imagine a severe drought that hits the grain belt of the United States, and reaches Europe East and West. A similar flooding that destroys crops in Pakistan, and South America.

    What emerges is 1 billion starving people at the same time. And there is not enough food to go around. Prices skyrocket for grains. China cannot buy enough food. India, China, the countries of Africa, Pakistan, together have no grain. The western countries circle their wagons in this scenario, and grain that is available is held by the producing countries.

    Arab spring was the result of higher grain price in 2010. What happens with 1 billion starving people. The developing countries will also circle their wagons and starve the rural regions of their country. That is precisely what china did in the 1960s and 30 million people starved to death. It is what Russia did in the 1950s.

    Starvation leads to a massive migration wave, and it would be disruptive to countries all over the world.

    That is how it plays out for me. A confluence of events similar to what has happened but now with no room for error. With each tick of the temperature higher, the risks keep rising for this scenario to play out.

  • Some good points, but – how was Rome “land locked”, and how do you get the figure of 4% for American military spending?

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • in this and upstream comments.

    However, your prognosis ignores the possibility of a black swan event.

    I have no proof such an event will occur, but I do see possibilities which for most will be called unforeseen if and when they happen.

    Imagine, for instance, what a nuke going off in New York City would do.

    I did inhale.

  • The borders were land on every side. The northern empire bordered on the north by Germany and, then, Persia. On the west by the Arab tribes and Mesopotamia. On the south by every African region as the Romans hugged the border. All land borders which had to be defended or held. Nothing was protected by any natural border or barrier.

    Military spending is around $650 billion or 4% of GDP. If you use real GDP it is 5%. Nowhere near 30% of Rome.

  • Those go off in history in manners that cannot be fully comprehended. A nuke in New York is your example. But I would expand that. What happens in the western world in the event a Nuke were to go off anywhere? One of the major epicenter cities, and there are now many. The interrelatedness is a serious problem globally.

    I actually view nukes as far less likely than say an epidemic. Another black swan that is highly probable. Something on the order of 1918 today if it impacted similar numbers could reduce population worldwide by 500 million. I would also add there are many benefits folks in 1918 had which is no longer the case – in the west anyway. The world was more rural and people more self sufficient. People could live on foodstuffs at home. Today an epidemic would impact populations of people who lack isolation, are dependent on a complex retail system for food. To this the US is highly vulnerable.

    Another black swan would be a volcanic eruption on a scale that has not occurred since industrialization. An eruption could send ash into the air on a scale that occurred in 1400 and lead to another mini-ice age. No agriculture for one to two years, no sunshine, and perhaps snow cover over Europe and the US and Russia that would extend through summers. This falls into my one billion starving scenario.

    I don’t dismiss black swans. But my scenario is not a black swan, it is simply what happens on a fairly regular cycle. There are simply years of a global drought. It is not even particularly unusual. I think about it in part because right now Australia, China and southern United States is unusually dry. These droughts tend to build over time and I am seeing one emerging that may look like the 1970s and this time there is just no give in the system.

    Already I am looking at grain stocks that look too low for this time of year. I am also seeing a very unusually dry fall in the Midwest. Next summer could really be a bad year for agriculture.

  • ….has no money to do anything with them.

    China owns about a trillion in US debt, total of 14 trillion, which isn’t even our GDP. We owe far more to US citizens, especially in the form of bonds sold to the Social Security Administration:

    Let’s say America were a person… then we’d be making $100k per year, and owe $90k left on our house, AND we get to print our own money to pay back the loan.

    Not to mention, banks are pretty eager to loan us money… because who are the other options? The only other safe family to loan money to is that nice European family across the street… But everybody’s a bit nervous because their Greek stepson keeps setting his allowance on fire. The current environment is so uncertain, that the banks are loaning us money at NEGATIVE interest rates, just to make sure it doesn’t go up in flames.

    We could be in a better position… but right now is far from bleak.

    “If America owes you a billion dollars, then we have a problem… if America owes you a TRILLION dollars, then YOU have a problem. We’re too big to fail, bitches!” — Jon Stewart
    Of COURSE you can trust the US Government! Just ask the Indians.

  • Like the USSR and the USA, it was a hollowed out society and ripe for collapse when the barbarians showed up.

    That may be… but the US is blessed with (relatively) good relations with our neighbors, a far distance between us and our enemies, a growing economy, and a (finally) engaged citizenry dedicated to reforming the system to work for “The Other 99%”

    We’ve seen this kind of moral decay before… in the early part of the Republic, the Civil War, the Gilded Age, and right before the Great Depression.

    Call me crazy, but I’m optimistic…
    Of COURSE you can trust the US Government! Just ask the Indians.

  • Let’s say America were a person… then we’d be making $100k per year, and owe $90k left on our house, AND we get to print our own money to pay back the loan.

    ….trigger massive hyperinflation that would make South America seem like it has a stable economy.

  • making $100 K per year. If that were the case, we would owe $$15K a year on that. Not bad. Better than me.

    Not only that, if my income fell to $50k, then my debt would be automatically reduced to 7.5K. That’s the sweet deal the U.S. has on its debt.

    By the way, China’s hidden Sovereign debt just passed 100% of its GDP. To make your head spin, what China does is take the US proceeds it gets every year, equal to about $50 or $60 billion per year is leverage that at a government bonding and use the proceeds to pay their own Sovereign debt at a lower interest rate. China has a wave of bad loans right now.

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