Moving Toward 2012

There are times I start to buy into the stupid notion that the world will end in 2012. Those times are ones like yesterday, when Michelle Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. Then I comfort myself by remembering that the second place winner was Ron Paul. So, yeah.

It says something, something not good, that the all major candidates within the GOP primary race are insanely religious (Bachmann and Rick Perry), or are willing to pander to the religious extremists (all the other candidates). The party has gone from something I could disagree with, but still respect to something else. Something far more sinister that we don’t really have a word for. They aren’t insane in the traditional sense. They aren’t stupid, not by a long shot. They aren’t fascist (they quite loudly support individual freedoms, after all, as long as those freedoms aren’t being gay, having an abortion or having free access to birth control, among other things). They’re something very different, and I don’t know what. It’s possible that English lacks a word for them.

Andrew Sullivan refers to them as Christianists, and says they’ve taken over the GOP. I think he’s onto something with that description. This is a party where Muslims aren’t welcome. Where taxes are a greater evil than anything else. Where corporations are people. Where loudly telling our creditors we might not pay our debt, and then blaming the opposition when our credit rating gets downgraded, is somehow considered rational. This is a party that’s so far beyond anything based in reality that I can’t compare it to anything.

A few weeks ago Fareed Zakaria wrote an article in Time about conservatives in America and what’s become of them. He said that it used to be the liberals who were the wild-eyed fanatics who had ideas that sounded good on paper, but weren’t based in reality. Now, he says, the positions have switched, and it’s the conservatives who have ideas that aren’t rooted in reality. I think he’s very much onto something with that.

I look at Obama’s poll numbers and I feel vaguely depressed. I’m also vaguely depressed that he hasn’t turned out to be the great liberal president I, and many others, wanted. But I take solace in the fact that he’s done so much in his first term (passed health care reform, prevented a second Great Depression, done away with “don’t ask, don’t tell”), and that the opposition field is so weak that I do feel hope for him getting a second term. Yes, the economy is still bad, but I haven’t seen a single Republican proposition that would have improved it, and the economy might well be better in fourteen months when the elections are held. Even if the economy is merely stagnant, I think he still stands a damn good chance of getting re-elected.

Ah, well. Tie will tell. Meanwhile, we can all sit back and watch the GOP candidates try to out-God each other.