Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is the Republican Party dead?

Very interesting discussion in many different places about last month's hang-wringing from TIME magazine, titled Republicans in Distress: Is the Party Over? (we can only hope!) by Michael Grunwald:

The Democratic critiques of the GOP — that it's the Party of No, or No Ideas — are not helpful either. It's silly to fault an opposition party for opposition; obstructionism helped return Democrats to power. Republicans actually have plenty of ideas.

That's the problem. The party's ideas — about economic issues, social issues and just about everything else — are not popular ideas. They are extremely conservative ideas tarred by association with the extremely unpopular George W. Bush, who helped downsize the party to its extremely conservative base. A hard-right agenda of slashing taxes for the investor class, protecting marriage from gays, blocking universal health insurance and extolling the glories of waterboarding produces terrific ratings for Rush Limbaugh, but it's not a majority agenda. The party's new, Hooverish focus on austerity on the brink of another depression does not seem to fit the national mood, and it's shamelessly hypocritical, given the party's recent history of massive deficit spending on pork, war and prescription drugs in good times, not to mention its continuing support for deficit-exploding tax cuts in bad times.

As the party has shrunk to its base, it has catered even more to its base's biases, insisting that the New Deal made the Depression worse, carbon emissions are fine for the environment and tax cuts actually boost revenues — even though the vast majority of historians, scientists and economists disagree. The RNC is about to vote on a kindergartenish resolution to change the name of its opponent to the Democrat Socialist Party. This plays well with hard-core culture warriors and tea-party activists convinced that a dictator-President is plotting to seize their guns, choose their doctors and put ACORN in charge of the Census, but it ultimately produces even more shrinkage, which gives the base even more influence — and the death spiral continues. "We're excluding the young, minorities, environmentalists, pro-choice — the list goes on," says Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of two moderate Republicans left in the Senate after Specter's switch. "Ideological purity is not the ticket to the promised land."

Some conservatives think that in the long run, the party will be better off without squishes like Specter muddling the coherence of its brand; a GOP campaign committee celebrated his departure with an e-mail headlined "Good riddance," and Limbaugh urged him to take McCain along. Inside this echo chamber, a center-right nation punished Republicans for abandoning their principles, for enabling Bush's spending sprees, for insufficient conservatism. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who has refused to accept $700 million in stimulus cash for his state despite bitter opposition from his GOP-dominated legislature, argues that Chick-fil-A would never let its franchisees cook their chicken however they want; why should the Republican Party let its elected officials promote Big Government? "We're essentially franchisees, and right now nobody has any clue what we're really about," Sanford tells TIME. "You can't wear the jersey and play for the other team!
And let me repeat, with considerable emphasis: Fuck Mark Sanford! While we go to pieces around here, he is busy making a future-GOP STAR of himself.

(Anybody got any other opinions about the imminent death of the GOP, possibly presented somewhat better than I just did?)

Reedy River falls, downtown Greenville.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce is beside itself with glee after the GOOD MORNING AMERICA feature last week comparing Greenville's sparkling downtown to Rockford, Illinois, a downtown-area that is struggling. You can hear the preening of Republicans all the way out here in the suburbs:

At midday on Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina, people are drifting up and down the street going to or coming from lunch at one of dozens of restaurants or cafes. Greenville has not escaped the larger economic decline, but it has proven recession-resistant if not recession-proof. Many of the strollers are smiling.

"We're holding our own," said Mayor Knox White. "And I guess that's good news."

They were careful to note that South Carolina has the third-highest jobless-rate in the USA. So, why is Greenville, specifically, doing so well economically? Easy answer, but you sure didn't find it mentioned anywhere on GOOD MORNING AMERICA: the proliferation of foreign businesses in the area. BMW, Hitachi, Michelin, Fuji... these are the magic incantations that keep Greenville going.

And I wondered: How successful might Greenville be if we did not have a neanderthal Governor holding the entire state back?

It should also be noted, our "successful downtown" is the result of the forward-thinking and urban consciousness of former Greenville mayor Max Heller, a Democrat, thank you very much.

Last month, a statue was dedicated to Max Heller, South Carolina visionary:

The City of Greenville marked with a statue on Main Street the life and leadership of Max Heller, an Austrian Jewish refugee who fled Nazi genocide in 1938 to become an Upstate icon of economic renewal.[...] Heller’s public life started with his election to city council in 1968. He focused on improving substandard housing and expanding affordable housing. He was elected mayor of Greenville in 1971. A major thrust of his work as mayor was to desegregate all departments and commissions of city government, and to erase differences in treatment between the races by police. [...] Heller’s major endeavor as mayor was to reverse the decay of Greenville’s core. Most retail stores had abandoned Main Street for the suburbs. His European heritage told him a city without a heart would rot from within. [...] In 1978, the city received a federal Urban Development Action Grant for $7.4 million, which was used to buy land on North Main Street. On that site at College and Main, a new hotel and convention center was built. Today, it is a Hyatt Hotel, and remains a strong centerpiece of North Main Street’s redevelopment.
In short, THE GOVERNMENT and DEMOCRATS made Greenville what it is now, and in spite of Sanford's jerking off, the downtown-area remains strong because of the dedication and awareness of the people who initially re-designed it. NOT REPUBLICANS.


And then there is also the matter of Mother Nature; the incontrovertible fact that we have a WATERFALL downtown, and most cities don't. OF COURSE people will come to hang out at the waterfall, as I do regularly...

After all, the waterfall is beautiful and still free.


Blue Heron said...

That's not fair to the GOP. After all they have created a country now free from racism, started the environmental movement, given women the vote, created an environment where all are free to worship or not worship as they please,ended deficit spending, etc. A party with a plethora of fresh ideas.

Oops, almost time for you to get fitted for your chador.

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