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It has been said that economic prosperity breeds idealism. This historical fact offers us perspective in our times, and even more so when we consider its natural converse. There is a reason that the French, Germans, Russians, Chinese, Italians, Japanese, and Americans experienced periods of militarism, nationalism, and xenophobia during periods of economic hardship; simply said, difficult economic times breed pessimism and anger. Just as there is a business cycle there is also a social and political cycle.
President Obama campaigned and was elected during the early days of what has become a prolonged period of economic contraction and stagnation. The fact that he was campaigning near the beginning of the recession is very important because this was when there was still a lot more optimism throughout our country. Obama campaigned on a platform of change - the implicit change was the desired ouster of the Republican Party from government. After eight years of Republican control of the executive branch and six years of legislative control, the American people had become very displeased with the party of Bush, Cheney, Rove, nonexistent WMDs, the Patriot Act, and the great recession. This little bit of history brings me to the issue at hand – the marvelously effective political strategy of American conservatives.
It seems hard to believe that the GOP has any power anywhere in government right now; however, the growth of American pessimism and anger as the economy soured further, combined with an obstructionist strategy of conservatives, has breathed new life into the Republican Party. The only way for the Republicans to gain any kind of political power was to tear down the Democrats, and this is what they set about doing. This anger and obstructionism was so effective that the American public doubled down on the Republican Party and its policies, the same which were so heartily condemned just two years prior.
The GOP committed itself to making the Obama administration’s first term as difficult and unproductive as possible. They accomplished this by using the filibuster in the senate at record levels, declaring to make pieces of legislation Obama’s Waterloo, and even declaring one of their goals as a party to be making Obama a one term president. To continue to exist they had to show Americans they had some kind of fight – and they fought like hell. They fought against stimulating the economy, the fought against healthcare reform, they fought against Wall Street reform. They acted as obstructionists when economists were saying the stimulus should have been more robust. But, it was in their political interests not to work with the Democrats.
It helped that conservatives had the benefit of a massive piece of political infrastructure - Fox News. At every point along the way, Conservatives portrayed Democrats as communists,
The Democrats were a driving force behind our current debt situation and we must always remember this. In their rhetoric they harnessed popular negative sentiments to paint the President as a Muslim foreigner and a subversive anti-American figure. not career politicians and hockey moms. we need to elect statesmen and stateswomen. but the radicalism of the right must be subdued if we are ever going to move past this problem as a nation. We need calm. On a wave of anger. This idea sold. While trying to validate themselves as a party. This Tea Party movement is no different than the Republican party of two years prior. Republicans exhibited their power by making big issues out of non-issues. and populism. Conservatives slowly and surely changed the entire discussion from one concerning the failures of the private sector (Wall Street) to a discussion of the failings of the government. It is the same party that believes that we can “grow our way out” of the recession with never ending tax cuts. As I have said before. They understood that popular opinion can change very quickly and that the general public does not always act very rationally. We need to stop swinging our government back and forth and elect people to lead this country to do what is right. deliberative discussion and legislation. pro-choicers. We are now being partially governed during a time of crisis by a group of ideologues who believe that their way is the only way. the GOP has regained strength and has begun to push their supply side fallacies more than ever. It is the same party that demonizes the GLBT community. and even managed to somehow throw in Nazis. They have saved the dying GOP. and gun control advocates.Saving A Dying Party socialists. pessimism. The elections of 2010 were the manifestation of the new public sentiments – the people elected an anti-government majority to the house. and who are willing to do whatever they must to get their way. They attacked every proposal as if the government was trying to ruin the lives and liberty of the people. Once again the Fox ratings rose as they became more and more provocative. They insulated our republic from the whims of the people. It is the same party that believes corporate tax interests should be protected while we carve away at the American safety net programs and government agencies. 2/2 . and it sold big during a time of pessimism and fear. There is a reason that the founding fathers created a bicameral legislation and established the senate to work the way it does.