Did We Already Win?
By: Mark W Adams

First of, I'm not trying to be cocky. So if this sounds cocky, well ... that's just me.

All would agree that there's been a steady trickle of sentiment towards a more liberal mood in America for some years now. You could almost track it with the inexorable downward slide in our approval of the Bush regime.

There have been signposts along the way, the rejection of Harriet Miers and John Bolton's nominations, collective disgust at the political exploitation of Terri Schaivo, the 2006 election was a sobering moment for everyone.

But the clearest indication I was on to something was the nomination of John McCain. His promotion to standard bearer of the Republican Party, to me, indicated a clear rejection of the neoconservative agenda by the folks who gave it breath: the Republican Party's rank and file.

Interestingly enough folks far more clever than I, and not especially noted as flaming batshit crazy liberals susceptible to wishful thinking that probably taints my take on the situation are coming to the same conclusion -- but from a completely different perspective.

See I tend to agree with George Packer's The Fall of Conservativism at The New Yorker (via: Cho at ePluribus Media) opinion that:
"The fact that the least conservative, least divisive Republican in the
2008 race is the last one standing—despite being despised by
significant voices on the right
—shows how little life is left in the
movement that Goldwater began, Nixon brought into power, Ronald Reagan
gave mass appeal, Newt Gingrich radicalized, Tom DeLay criminalized,
and Bush allowed to break into pieces."

You've seen the disgust throughout Right Wing Blogistan with McCain, running the full sequence from outright rebellion, defection to plugging their noses. I believe an appropriate concluding clause to the above quote would read ... "Bush allowed to break into pieces ... and McCain buried."

They broke their own back, much the way the Soviets fell apart largely due to ignoring the economics of their predicament while ignoring the internal inconsistencies of a faulty and poorly executed ideology. Ironic that a movement whose nadir saw the death throws of communist imperialism believed it's own hype that they defeated the "Evil Empire" as opposed to simply watching it die has succumbed to a similar fate -- hubris leading self-immolation.

No doubt there will be Democrats who will spin this as "their" (ok, our) victory, but one only need glance at the record of Congressional Democrats since losing Congress in 1996, and Bill and Hillary Clinton's rejection of the progressive agenda since then to expose the lie that any Democrat brought about the end of the extreme right wing any more than Reagn somehow "Destroyed" the Iron Curtain. They just happened to be the folks in opposition when the nutbags lost it.

Bob Burnnet's HuffPost piece takes a different view on what McCain represents, however. To him, John McCain is the epitome of conservative orthodoxy, and he makes a very persuasive case. McCain indeed advocates the traditional pillars of conservativism: "gargantuan military ... small (innefectual) government ... tax reduction ... incompetent (corporate run) management." All of it combining into the unwieldy and corrupt industrial/military complex warned against by Ike.

So which is it? What does McCain represent? The death knell of ideologically driven right wing extremism, or more of McSame? I ask this more as an intellectual exercise since the prospect of a true empirical analysis of the question would require study of a McCain administration -- which I find to be not only a remote possibility but a horror to even contemplate.

Back when the GOP was parading their fractured coalition on nationally televised debates, they entertained us all as each out-of-touch representative of various splinter groups vied for the affections of the Republican voters: the robber barons represented by Romney, the evangelicals following Huckabee, the xenophobes cheering for Hunter and Tancredo, the media wing pushing Grandpa Fred, the libertarian insurrection led by Ron Paul, the Christianist favorite Brownback, the one-percent of the party's black supporters shaking their head each time Alan Keyes opened his mouth, and the neocons's darling of course was Giuliani -- but the military wing held on and allowed McCain to survive. Even then it was clear the days of the GOP presenting a unified front were long gone.

McCain himself may represent the blandest version of Republicanism, and therefore his orthodoxy is to be expected. However, the fact that one really must describe his status as their "presumptive nominee" because he survived, he's the "last man standing" says a lot. He didn't "win" so much as he didn't lose. By no means can he be described as the "Party Favorite." He isn't. He certainly didn't overwhelm his rivals through irresistible popular support. There's no "movement" behind him propelling him to the White House.

It's just his turn. It's his time and he's been set up to be a sacrificial lamb by people who haven't had an original idea since 1968, and are still fighting those same culture wars.

The Clintons too are veterans of the Baby Boomers' battle of attrition between the hard-hats and the hippies. Hillary's failure to hold back the tide of a movement that is sweeping Obama forward is not a signal that the hippies won, but that we are declaring the war is over and moving on.

The winning move here is not to play the same old game.

That means we must not simply replace Republicans with Democrats, enact liberal policies to fix the things conservatism has broken. We must (as an Obama Administration promises to do) completely transform the culsture of Washington D.C. The people are demanding, and the country desperately requires not only new people at the helm, better managers, more responsible financial stewardship, a smaller and more flexible military, a restoration of diplomatic respect, and an end to corrupt corporate cronyism; but also a change of attitude.

We need to hope again. We need to listen to our better angels, both here and abroad. We need to remember that America is the land that helps the rest of the world rise up and improve their lot in life, not exploit the rest of the planet's people and steal their resources.

We need to actually BE the people we are so proud of being.

If we do that, everybody wins.