|Is Mike Pence cool, or what? "Ayyyy!"|
America, can we muster the nerve and political will to drive a stake through the heart of the Know-Nothings?
Because that is the opportunity before us, going into these 2010 mid-term elections.
So far, this election year, the prevailing wisdom among the punditry is that the Democrats will be routed at the polls; that the Republicans, driven by their nativist, reactionary base, will sweep into the majority in the House of Representatives and maybe even in the US Senate.
It certainly might happen that way.
But, then again, it may just be that Republicans, with their nutty, irrational rhetoric, have "jumped the shark" politically. That is, with their slate of unhinged candidates (all endorsed by Sarah Palin) the Republicans may have finally succumbed to their delusional fantasies in which anyone who is not ideologically pure is therefore evil.
The primary elections this year have seen a purge of some nearly iconic political figures within the GOP. The tea-bagging base believes that the reason Republicans have failed so miserably in the past several years is because they have compromised on what they call "conservative principles."
The redneck base is fired up. And with all their successes in the primaries they have set expectations for November very high.
Political conditions conspire to give them hope, as well. Historically, mid-term elections favor the party out of power. Democrats are over-extended as a result of the last two national elections in which Democrats made huge gains, even in areas that trend Republican. (New York's 23rd Congressional District is a prime example.) Unemployment hovers near 10%. President Obama's approval ratings are under 50%. In short, the GOP has everything going its way as we head into the home stretch.
But the bar is very high. Imagine what might happen if Democrats retain control of the House. Even if the Republicans gain a significant number of seats, which is almost a certainty, but fail to gain the majority, their party will be convulsed with recrimination. The intraparty sniping and sparring that has come in the wake of the Junior Bush disaster, will ignite into full scale warfare. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell could both be discredited and disgraced, to say nothing of all the demagogues on the periphery (Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich).
And, just maybe, the idiot base of the Republican party, the people who insist that President Obama is a secret Muslim, that his citizenship is in doubt, that anyone to the political left of Ronald Reagan is a socialist, that global warming is a hoax, that belief in evolution precludes a belief in God, might actually be forced to confront the ignorance of their views.
Doesn't that sound like heaven on Earth?
It might just be pie-in-the-sky fantasy, but I think I have detected, over the last week or so, a subtle shifting of the tides, now that the primary season is over. Democrats are starting to rally.
Liberals, progressives, let's see if we can't join General Petraeus. Let's see if we can give the bigots a nice clean elbow to the chops.