Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Minor Musing About National And Grassroots Partisans

I suspect that America's two party system stems from the nation's Protestant ethic and Biblical injunctions like Joshua's challenge to the Old Testament Israelites:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Every either/or choice since then has been a derivative of that challenge. I'm not old enough to have actually marched around the walls of Jericho with Joshua. My father carried me on his shoulders, but modern leaders and their followers don't remeind me of Joshua.

The years since my youth have taught me the futility of trusting human agency; therefore, I have to echo Conor Friedersdorf's complaint about ideological partisans:
There's a lot I find objectionable about partisans, for I regard their faith in the Republican and Democratic parties as misguided. In fact, I think it's proven to be misguided again and again, as successive parties, vested with a president of their party and Congressional majorities, have failed to address America's deficit and been complicit in reckless abrogations of civil liberties.
Friedersdorf, however, draws a distinction between national level Republicans and the common folk attending the GOP convention:
For an observer of national politics like me, the face of the GOP is an amalgam of George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rand Paul, and the results of their combined efforts. GOP delegates and alternates just traveled to Tampa with a group of people who gain neither fame nor lucre nor much power from their participation in politics. You think of L.A. Lakers fans as self-satisfied Hollywood celebrities who show up late to games and are there to to be seen. I think of Lakers fans as my dad, grandfathers, and best friends. No wonder that I have a higher opinion of Lakers basketball. And no wonder GOP delegates have a higher opinion of the Republican Party.
When he discusses national Republicans, Friedersdorf does not mention Rush Limbaugh's belligerent bombast ineffectually mimicked by Sean Hannity, nor does he mention Ann Coulter's valley-girl snark and irritating eye rolling.

Perhaps it is those omissions that allows him to draw distinction between the grassroots partisans and the public standard bearers. It's unclear that such a distincition exists.

Friedersdorf uses a sports analogy. I'll offer my own: Tim Tebow. Unlike the Lakers, a storied franchise, Tebow is a rather ineffectual passer who gained the reputation of being a "winner" thanks to a field goal kicker able to kick 50+ yard field goals under pressure and a Pittsburgh Steeler defensive collapse that made the Maginot Line appear redoubtable. In short Tebow is as ineffectual as the national Republicans that Friedersdorf decries.

Tebow's partisans are shrill. oblivious to statistics, and quick to accuse his detractors of hating God. The latter charge stems from Tebow's public professions of faith. In short, they are as annoying, boring, loud, stubborn, and obnoxious as Tebow's passes are errant. They are like the grassroots Republicans who visited a state park this past summer to hector college students working a summer job. After all,  these Republicans want to ensure that tax dollars are being well-spent, and they will make sure the young kids trying to earn a few extra bucks hear that fact. The grassroots Republicans also award Rush Limbaugh's pronouncement equal weight with the Gettysburg Address. Given their tone and my my rising blood pressure when I encounter it, I frequently doubt that human nature has "the better angels" Lincoln's words sought in his Second Inagural Address

From the view of a blood red state, the grassroots folk and the national standard bearers both believe they are like Joshua and have a Divine mandate to issue clarion calls. That certainty grates because, they are more reminiscent of an ineffectual passer or belligerant talk radio host than they are of a prophet and leader.


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