Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Republican Now Or Never

The Circus co-hosts Halperin, McKinnin &Heilemann
The reviews for The Circus, Showtime's new weekly documentary-style analysis of the 2016 presidential campaign trail produced in cooperation with Bloomberg Media, have been somewhat mixed.

But I don't think it's really fair to make a final judgement about any TV or cable show after only a couple episodes.

Like a good stew, the contents of a show need time to blend together and simmer and I don't think The Circus is quite done cooking yet; and I mean that in a good way.

In a recent review of the show, Salon.com's Steve Almond called it "straight pundit porn"

And to a degree it is.

But while Almond uses wit and sharp eye to sum up the show nicely, his well-written review of the show stuck me as a bit harsh given that they're only two episodes in.

As a political junkie, I'm not looking for 60 Minutes or Frontline when I tune into The Circus; I'm hungry for an interesting and entertaining take on the 2016 presidential campaign trail that I don't get from CNN, MSNBC or network news - and for me it delivers a nice Sunday night snack.

The Circus is ably hosted by seasoned Beltway observers John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, who both co-wrote the searing expose of the 2008 presidential race, "Game Change", and the perpetual hat-wearing ex-Democrat-turned-conservative political adviser and former George W. Bush confidant, Mark McKinnon - all three share good chemistry.

It runs a breezy 28 minutes as the constantly-moving cameras move back and forth between the three hosts meeting to dish on various aspects of the presidential race, and, more interestingly, following some of the leading presidential candidates around from week to week as they traverse the American terrain of the campaign trail.

It offers a refreshing glimpse of the candidates themselves, not just at the podium delivering the usual mix of predictable sound bites and political shtick - but up close and personal where they are bot more vulnerable and open than we usually get to see them in carefully edited 10-second video clips, or on stage in debates.

If a quick inside glimpse of the 2016 presidential campaign trail is your thing and you have access to Showtime, I suggest you check out a couple episodes.

Obama being interviewed by Glenn Thrush on Monday
With the critical Iowa and New Hampshire primaries just around the corner, influential mainstream and moderate conservatives are gearing up their efforts to try and stitch together the tattered pieces of a Republican party fragmented by months of being driven by an extremist faction.

In an interview with Politico's Glenn Thrush on Monday, President Obama, contrasting the tone of the Republican party during his 2008 race against Senator John McCain with today's Republican party, the president said the GOP in 2016 has moved so far to the right of the political spectrum that it's now "unrecognizable".

It's nice to hear him say that but it's not like the President really needed to point that out to us; or to Republicans for that matter.

As the approaching Iowa and New Hampshire primaries bring the 2016 presidential race closer to reality, it's not just Democrats, liberals or centrist voters of both parties who find the idea of a right-wing extremist like Donald Trump or Ted Cruz getting the 2016 Republican nomination for president repugnant.

The staunchly conservative editors of The National Review made headlines (and irked some of the Tea Party Republicans) when they came out against Donald Trump last Thursday.

Conservative author Charles Krauthammer
Even conservative author and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer questioned the wisdom of the Republican party nominating Donald Trump during an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Monday.

The large block of moderate Republicans who sat back and remained relatively quiet over the course of Obama's two terms as the far right Tea Party-Libertarian wing became the mouthpiece of the party and hoisted the flag of it's divisive ideology over the GOP have only now really begun to stir.

From the very start of Barack Obama's presidency, Republican lawmakers made it crystal clear that their legislative strategy for the duration of his term in office would be a simple one.

To use their position in office to oppose any initiative he proposed.

Regardless of what motivated this unprecedented partisan opposition, one thing history will be clear on is that this Congress chose not to act on major issues that impact the American people when it had the chance to do so.

Just last March, Republican Senators stymied the president's calls for massive (and critical) infrastructure spending by blocking a $478 billion spending bill that was proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
The lead poisoning of the water supply in Flint, Michigan was a result of Republican Governor Rick Snyder's circumventing the democratic process in cities like Detroit and Flint by appointing "emergency managers" to oversee large urban areas suffering from decades of neglect by the state and federal government - then run them like businesses.

Those decisions, so en vogue in 2010 as the wave of Tea Party hysteria broke over the nation and swept conservative businessmen into political office with no political experience.

These men (and women) shared an irrational hatred of government, a fervent belief in anti-labor union "Right to Work" laws and a "starve the beast" philosophy of slashing government spending to finance lavish tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens - what they unleashed upon the country in the name of "conservative values"epitomizes the glaring philosophical failures of the 21st century Republican party.

Just look at the state of the economies of states with similar-minded Republican governors; Louisiana, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Jersey....the list goes on.

The moderate Republicans who stood by and allowed their party to be hijacked by these wing-nuts  find themselves in an awkward position.

They realize Donald Trump and Ted Cruz may poll well among conservative primary voters, but pitted in a national election, their right-wing extremism and open tolerance of racism and anti-immigrant hysteria is going to be a huge turnoff for the majority of Americans.

The smart Republicans realize the White House won't be won by systematic voter suppression and vilifying Mexican immigrants and Muslims - conservatives just don't have the numbers.

Especially not with candidates like Trump and Cruz who skew so far right on the political spectrum they scare the centrist voters needed to win enough electoral college votes to win the White House.

As was widely reported this summer, in 2014, the majority of American births were racial and ethnic minorities, a Republican party governed by the racist ideals of Donald Trump isn't going near the White House in 2016 - and could lead to an unmitigated disaster for the GOP in the Senate, House and in state houses across the nation.

That's where the fear and anxiety that Trump deals in comes from - the massive gerrymandering and voter suppression by Republicans across the country is a futile attempt to avoid that reality.

The smart Republicans, the ones who face reality, understand this.

Governor John Kasich
Hence the recent endorsement of moderate Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich for the crucial February 9th New Hampshire primary on Monday by The Boston Globe.

The demographics of this nation are changing much faster than Republicans can enact laws to legalize discrimination, suppress votes and block non-white foreign nationals from entering the United States.

Watch in the coming weeks as more and more resources begin to quietly flow to more moderate candidates like John Kasich and Jeb Bush; remember the Koch Brothers and the conglomerate of shadowy conservative libertarian billionaires described by author Jane Mayer in her book "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" want a candidate they can control - someone who needs their billions.

Donald Trump doesn't need their billions, he is a billionaire.

That enough is sufficient to seal his fate in the 21st century Republican party.

For Republicans who are content to continue trying to rely on the votes of a single demographic in this country, and want to retake the White House 2016, it's really basically now or never.

No comments: