Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Citizens Disunited

Those seeking the Republican presidential nomination have spent a lot of money, in the tens of millions of dollars. Romney outspent Gingrich by 5:1 in Florida, and won. Gingrich disapproved, citing that discrepancy rather than his own failings, and those of his campaign. Santorum today talked of spending far less than Romney, and winning anyway. Meanwhile, Romney's career at Bain Capital has been attacked as 'vulture capitalism'.

The Republican primaries are the first major national contest after the Citizens United decision, and demonstrate the obscene role of money in politics in the USA. So, we have Republicans themselves wondering if all that money is a Good Thing, and if all the ways capitalists make money are socially and morally Good Things. And a staple of libertarian objections to government is 'crony capitalism', the complicity between government and business which the odd lefty also points out.

Looking for coherence from Republicans on the surface is looking for gold in a coal mine. The actual basis of their views is power, its acquisition and its use in service of its clients, no more and no less. Their social positions are crystallizing around a return of unchallenged power to white men, their economic positions around the prerogatives of the rich, their foreign policy around the fantasy of complete freedom of American action arising out of an assertion of military power in service of a fantasy of exceptionalism.

There's something to work with here. A shame were the opportunity lost, ignored or even unrecognised on the left. And, too, a shame were some of the Republicans themselves to continue to reject thoughtlessly lefty positions they themselves find mirroring. But it's striking and appalling that Republicans, and the media reporting on them, don't laugh off the stage people who say the things the Republican candidates have said.

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