Saturday, November 5, 2011
The aggrieved party.
The modern Republican Party is more a list of complaints than an actual ideology. The deepest feelings of the typical Republican voter are his hatreds. Conventional wisdom says the complaints are a rejection of modernity, but I'd like to point out that Charles Darwin's 203th birthday is next year. His views on natural selection and the origin of species, the underlying principles of all biology today, are a little long in the tooth to be called "modern".
Modern Republicans hate a lot of stuff. They hate people who worship differently than they do, from a deep hatred of Muslims to a contempt for atheists to a dislike for Mormons. They hate science and fancy learning of all kinds and they hate being called ignorant. They hate government and taxes and career politicians. They hate abortion and they hate women who need help once their babies arrive. They hate people who look different from them or speak different languages, and they hate being called racists.
Enter Herman Cain. Cain is clever enough to understand that white guilt isn't just for quiche eating liberals anymore and he is currently riding high in the polls, with no major drop-off yet in spite of his current scandal for sexual harassment allegations and the probably more serious problems about his fledgling campaign ignoring some major campaign finance laws.
Herman Cain's skin may be several shades darker than that of the typical Republican voter, but deep down where it counts, they are much the same. Their hearts are as black as onyx. He hates almost all the right people and things. Unlike Rick Perry, he's not soft on illegal immigrants. Having Mexicans die on an electrocuted fence was allegedly a joke, he now says, but he still wants the electric fence. He does not give a shit who the leader of "Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan" is, regardless of the fact that Uzbekistan is currently on our side in the not yet completed Global War or Terror. He doesn't care that "9-9-9" is a burden on the poor and won't come close to paying our bills.
That kind of stuff is for eggheads, and Herman is proudly not one of those.
His only weakness so far is that he didn't realize his position on abortion skates very close to being pro-choice. That's a course correction he can easily make.
More importantly for the modern Republican party, Herman Cain is not a career politician. The disdain for politicians runs across the political spectrum, as evidenced by Al Franken, Jesse Ventura and Michael Bloomberg, but the feeling is deeper in the right wing base, as we saw in 2008 when California Republicans nominated the no-hope candidates Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. It used to be a person had to have a serious resume to be a candidate, but that's no longer the case. Bloomberg is certainly a success, but Fiorina left a string of disasters in her wake, and Cain took a fifth rate pizza chain and turned it into a fifth rate pizza chain.
As usual, I am fascinated by the numbers. The early polls tell us very little about what will happen a year from now, but about a month ago, the votes for all the Republican candidates combined in the opinion polls added up to about 70%. A lot of people who weren't in the race made it clear they weren't getting in, the two most publicized being Chris Christie and Sarah Palin. The total percentages for all candidates shot up over the 90% range and Herman Cain replaced Rick Perry as the main challenger to Romney. Cain is still either in first or second place both in national polls and likewise in state polls, but now the total percentages are slipping backwards to about 85%. The malaise returns to the Republican base, though of course they hate the word "malaise", both for sounding too French and its association with Jimmy Carter, who never used the word in his famous speech.
No matter how hard they try, the Republican Party can't seem to find that perfect candidate, both mean enough and stupid enough to truly satisfy their new core voter. Herman Cain is just the best they can do right now. I'm sure stupider and meaner is coming, but probably not in time for the 2012 presidential election.