I want to begin this blog by clarifying my assumptions and working hypotheses.
One. Somewhere around 30 percent of our population (1) are dreadfully angry and (2) have elected to live in an alternate reality. In part, they are angry, and they live in an alternate universe, because they are misinformed by bogus sources of information. But my working assumption is that, mostly, the causation works the other way around: they live in an alternative reality, and they choose to take their facts from deceitful sources, because they are dreadfully angry.
In short, it’s their anger that drives them to alt-reality, much more than alt-reality engenders their anger.
Two. This raises the question: Well, what are they so dreadfully angry about? My working hypothesis is that their intense anger lies in a rancid combination or cultural, racial, and religious resentment—and that economic resentment plays a role, but a very subordinate role, in their fury.
The question of what the hell drives the Tinfoil Hatted among us remains controversial. One of the main purposes of this blog is to explore the issue. As I said, I have some working hypotheses. But I’ll be looking not only for evidence that tends to prove my hypotheses, but also for evidence that tends to disprove them. Because I really would like to know what the answer is.
Three. What of the motivations and expectations of those who do not share the anger of the mob, or their rejection of reality, but have found ways to benefit from it? I am referring to many elected Republican officials, and to many members of the business community.
I will refer to these folks as Rational Republicans—to include both people of reasonable good will and people whose aim is cynical exploitation. I will refer to the objects of their exploitative efforts as the Tinfoil Hat Republicans.
Four. What of the motivations of the Rational Republicans, and what of their likely responses to the circumstances in which we live? Here, my assumptions are derived partly from my life experience, which may be different from your life experience.
Consider, for example, the motivations and thinking of the average CEO member of the Business Roundtable. How do these people think about politics and politicians? My answer: in very large measure, they think instrumentally. They will lend their support to politicians who are ready, willing, and able to advance policies consistent with the economic objectives of the Business Roundtable. In the medium and long term, I believe, such a politician will garner their support.
Five. What does this instrumental thinking mean in the concrete? One thing it means, or so goes my working hypothesis, is that, in states or other jurisdictions where the majority of voters are Tinfoil Hat Republicans, the Business Roundtable will support Tinfoil Hat Republican politicians—as long as those politicians play footsy with the plutocracy. These might includel, among many other examples, Senator Football Coach from Alabama.
But in many states and jurisdictions that used to vote Republican, the Tinfoil Hat variety of Republicans are not, by themselves, in the majority. To form a majority, you would need the support of most of both types of Republican voters. But in the near and medium term, a politician that appeals to the Tinfoil Hats will drive away the Rational, and a politician that appeals to the Rational will drive away the Tinfoil Hats. Arizona and Georgia are good examples.
Because a Tinfoil Hat candidate cannot win statewide in Arizona or in Georgia or in lots of other places, supporting such a candidate will in no way advance the interests of the plutocracy.
To be sure, some wealthy people have joined the Tinfoil Hats themselves, so a candidate to their liking will have enough money to compete. She just won’t win. And when she loses, she can’t look forward to a lucrative career on K Street.
Six. The Tinfoil Hats are not only crazy, they are also determined. They are determined either to take over the Republican Party as a brand and an institution, or to replace it with a Patriot Party brand and institution. Because there are so many of them, what will happen is that they will take over the existing party.
What will the Rational Republicans do? Three of them have already announced their retirement from the Senate after the next election. More will follow. In order to avoid certain defeat in their next primary, some may retool themselves as Independents. It is possible that some will change their allegiance to the Democratic Party.
These, at any rate, are my assumptions and working hypotheses.
To be continued …