Blog No. 13 Ted Cruz, the Oozlums and the Electorate: Wealthbusters Confront the Silent Majority

Ted Cruz and the Oozlums have worked their will and the government has shutdown, at least in substantial part. (Newcomers to see Blog No. 12 for a definition of Oozlums.)  Ironically, owing to the structure of appropriations laws, and arcane interpretations of the Anti-Deficiency Act, one part of the government that will not shutdown is…Obamacare. But elsewhere pain aplenty there will be.

Blog No 12 pointed out that a neither a shutdown, nor a default precipitated by a failure to raise the debt ceiling, are likely to escape punishment by the financial markets. Evidence of that result has already begun to accumulate. The losses in the stock market have thus far been manageable, but if the shutdown continues very long, or as the specter of default draws closer, the financial consequences will inevitably become more severe. At that point, Senator Cruz and the Oozlums will be widely recognized for their accomplishments as Wealthbusters.

Nor will the rest of their colleagues in Congress look much better, as Republicans in both houses have clambered aboard the defunding bandwagon, even as it hurtled over the cliff. Even those who know better, and have said so, yielded to their “baser instincts,” the ever present fear of alienating the dreaded base. The Republican leadership, of course, bears considerable responsibility for this state of affairs. For his part, Speaker Boehner seems to have been a hostage of the radical right for so long that he has succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome and embraced his captors. And Mitch McConnell has been paralyzed by the prospect of a primary threat from the Tea Party in Kentucky.

Thus, help must come from outside the Congress, communicating the inescapable fact that while a majority of voters may disapprove of Obamacare, they also disapprove of the defunding path to shutdown or default as a solution. The previous blog called on RINOs to mount the barricades, metaphorically at least, to counter the defunding craze. But the barricades have been lamentably vacant. Sadly, RINOs and other grownups in the Republican Party have stood by in mute stupefaction as events have unfolded. Surely they cannot remain in that state forever.

The current crisis is not the only example of Republicans in the grip of a rigid ideology that may excite their noisy base but has no plausible prospect of attracting a majority of voters. Borrowing a term from the political past, Jennifer Rubin, a conservative who writes in The Washington Post, pointed out that, on a variety of issues, “Bubble Wrap conservatives” simply fail to understand or connect with the “silent majority” of voters. A party that cannot do so will pay a heavy price. That was the experience of the Democrats for two decades beginning George McGovern. (And Republicans can’t count on a Democratic Watergate to give them a temporary reprieve.)

Ms. Rubin’s column is sufficiently cogent that it merits quotation at some length for the benefit of those who may not have seen it.

Bubble Wrap Conservatives

By Jennifer Rubin, Updated: September 30, 2013 

In his book “Coming Apart,” Charles Murray has a quiz intended to gauge how isolated from the average American’s culture the reader is. I often wonder if right-wing pundits and politicians from deep-red states should take that sort of quiz to gauge how isolated they are from the average American’s politics or lack thereof.

Do the right-wingers know and interact with people who don’t know who the secretary of defense is? Do they have close friends who don’t read the newspaper? Do they have neighbors who have no idea who Bill Ayers, Lois Lerner and James Rosen are? Do  they ever spend an entire weekend without talking or reading about politics? Are they a member of a church or synagogue in which almost all congregants are not conservative?

If they were, and they fully understood there are more Americans like that (by far) than watch the Fox evening line-up on any given night or have ever heard of their favorite conservative blog, it might help re-orient their thinking just a tad. They might also understand that people who hold views closer to the president’s than to Jim DeMint aren’t the “enemy” or part of the infamous 47 percent; they are neighbors, friends, colleagues and acquaintances who need to be wooed, not denounced.

Currently, it seems that a great many right-wingers who claim to speak for “ordinary Americans” don’t have a clue how they react to politics or about the overwhelming disgust they feel when they watch sniping and political grandstanding that winds up disrupting ordinary people’s lives. If they did they might learn:

* * *

– No matter how many times Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) says it’s the president who is inflexible, most Americans will regard the senator as the more polarizing, unreasonable figure if the shutdown happens.

– No matter how many times they tell one another that the party needs a stronger conservative who is more dogmatic and articulate, the presidential electorate isn’t going to embrace him or her, and, moreover, is going to choose the candidate they like more and identify with on some level.

* * * *

Partisans also don’t fully appreciate that voters can have contradictory impulses. They can oppose action in Syria and be very upset when an American president doesn’t do what he said he would. They can be in favor of getting rid of Obamacare and dead set against a shutdown to achieve it. They can think the president is in over his head and still think Republicans are responsible for a budget stalemate. 

In the 1970s, Richard Nixon dubbed ordinary Americans turned off by soft-on-crime, anti-war, counter-culture liberals as the “silent majority.” Republicans today are in danger of ceding the silent majority to the Democrats. Republicans need to get out more, understand how the rightwing pols sound to voters who aren’t staunch conservatives and find some people who don’t sound like college debaters impressed with their own arguments. If they don’t, like the Democrats from 1972 to 1992, they will find themselves out of favor and out of the White House. They might be certain they have “won” the arguments on points, but will have lost power — for a very long time.

On Monday evening, Republicans were scrambling to argue that the shutdown is really the fault of President Obama and the Democrats. There is something to that argument–but not nearly enough. Polls show that, by a considerable margin, voters place primary responsibility on the Republicans and it is the view of that their judgment will only grow stronger as time passes.


3 thoughts on “Blog No. 13 Ted Cruz, the Oozlums and the Electorate: Wealthbusters Confront the Silent Majority

  • I am loving every bit of this. The GOP is gone and what is left is a racist mob of no nothings and deluded populists . Civil discourse is dead and the deluge will follow. I fear for our democracy.

    • 1) You had better not love the current mess. If it is not sorted out soon, the nasty consequences will not be confined to those with whom you disagree. 2) The GOP is not gone. It may be off course right now but no more than the Democrats have been from time to time. 3) It doe not contribute to preserving or recovering civil discourse to toss around terms like “racist mob.”

  • Apart from the wild-eyed blathering that has overtaken debate on the potential democracy killing that the ACA will engender, there is a purposeful conflation of to what the legislation actually pertains. It is an medical health Insurance program for persons who are not living in poverty, they are covered in most states by Medicaid, and who may be working (or not) who do not have other access to health insurance. TV ads which portray a rather demonic looking Uncle Sam puppet initiating a pelvic exam on a terrified woman, or preparing a colonoscopy for a distressed man, are of course the “Death Panel” response to allowing payment for physicians who meet with patients and families to discuss end of life strategies. Yes, the legislation is unwieldly and more than 1,000 pages in length, but it deals with the financial coverage of a portion of our Nation’s expenditures that encompasses almost 20% of our GDP. Will it be revised? You betcha! But the process is laid out in the Constitution as to how laws are enacted. Apparently the strict Constitutionalists are not welcome in the caucus rooms, either.

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