Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama, McCain - and the lost GOP

McCain is on the verge of a defeat that marks the end of the Republican era

Today's vote is likely to prove epochal. Bush's failure and the banks' collapse have exposed a deeply divided party

o Sidney Blumenthal in Chicago
o The Guardian,
o Tuesday November 4 2008

Today's election is poised to end the Republican era in American politics - an era that began in reaction to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the Vietnam war and the civil rights revolution, was pioneered by Richard Nixon, consolidated by Ronald Reagan, and wrecked by George W Bush.

Almost every aspect of the Republican ascendancy has been discredited and lies in tatters - its policies, politics, and even its version of patriotism - down to the rock-bottom notion that progressive taxation itself, initiated by a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who John McCain hails as his personal icon, is unpatriotic.

McCain's own chronic helplessness in establishing rapport, prompting him to latch on to mediums from Sarah Palin to Joe the Plumber, is aggravated by his party's decay. He is an ironic character to make the last stand on behalf of a party he has been at odds with for virtually his whole career.

McCain is less a victim of age than of the age - the end of the age of Reagan. Realignments in American party politics are the consequence of catastrophe. The coming of the civil war produced the Republican party that more or less ruled until the Great Depression brought about the New Deal. The modern Republican era began with the fragmentation of the liberal Democratic consensus in 1968 over Vietnam, civil rights and urban mayhem. Southerners and the urban ethnic working and middle classes shifted allegiance, forging a coalition that delivered 49 states first to Nixon in 1972 and then to Reagan in 1984.

The strange death of Republican America has been a long time in the making. As early as 1988, the Reagan coalition threatened to unravel. Only when the Republican candidate, George HW Bush, resorted to a vicious campaign - conjuring the pledge of allegiance to the flag and an African-American rapist named Willie Horton, against a worthy and weak Democratic candidate, Michael Dukakis - was the hold on power preserved...  more

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