Angry White Men

Sen. Lindsey Graham told us everything we need to know about the Republican Party when he made this statement during the RNC:

“We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

Indeed, that is your modern Republican Party in a nutshell: angry white men. I realize this is no great revelation, but I’ve never heard anyone in the GOP actually cop to it. You’d think there’d be some backlash from the unhinged right at being characterized this way, but let’s get real: those folks don’t read the Washington Post, anyway.

Still, Graham’s quote explains a lot. For example: it explains why stuff coming from Republicans — actual, real Republicans, not just crackpots ranting on street corners, but people who are members of Congress, serve in state legislatures and other “serious types” — are sounding increasingly like extras from the cast of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Keeping people in a perpetual state of rage is an exercise in escalation and exaggeration.

Have you heard the latest? Apparently “Islamists” were going to open the Democratic National Convention with a prayer for Sharia Law to replace the U.S. Constitution.Everybody panic! Hey, I read it at a website with “Journalism” in the title, so it has to be true!

Anyone want to place bets on which Tennessee Republican is the first to waste everyone’s time with a resolution condemning the “Democrat Party” for this nonsense?My vote goes to Rick Womick of Agenda 21 fame.

The question remains: what are they so angry about? There’s a lot people could be angry about: the crap economy, the crap jobs, the failure of one institution after another, the constant, grinding difficulty of just about absolutely everything these days. And I’m sure people are angry about those things, but those things anger everyone. Plenty of Democrats and Independents are angry about bank bailouts and the buying of our elections and the futile news media and failing public schools and crap in our food. Everyone is angry at those things, but Republican anger goes deeper, because Republicans were angry before a lot of this stuff existed.

No, I still say the Angry White Men who comprise the bulk of the Republican Party are basically angry at their cultural irrelevance. They’re angry their racist, homophobic, misogynist jokes aren’t funny anymore. They’re angry that the ’60s happened, and then the ’70s, and then the ’90s happened, when Communism died and they no longer knew who to be angry at. They’re angry they’re unable to influence the culture at large, that no one even bothers to launch boycotts of their outspoken, angry musicians because when was the last time Hank Williams Jr. was relevant, anyway? The modern Republican Party has become so regional and parochial, Ohio’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate recently faked a Southern drawl at a Romney campaign event.

This is how they ended up with Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair which, as one Nashville blogger observed, was actually a step up from the bulk of the modern Republican Party. Hell, at least Eastwood was trying to have a conversation with President Obama. The rest of the GOP simply can’t be bothered (or if they do, they risk pissing off the Teanuts).

And make no mistake, the Tea Party wants anger. I’m reminded that in 2008, My Wingnut Friend™ — an ardent Fred Thompson supporter — told me he’d probably hold his nose and vote for John McCain but (and here he pounded his fist on the table for emphasis), “I just want someone who can kick some butt!” The idea that geriatric Fred Thompson could kick anyone’s butt made me laugh.

What we’re witnessing, folks, is the death of the Republican Party, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Because political power without cultural power is ephemeral. This year’s RNC was proof of that, and not just the Eastwood thing. The Republican Party was in charge of this country for most of the last decade, yet only one high-ranking official from that previous administration got a high profile speaking slot at the convention? Really? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzalez, Collin Powell, John Ashcroft — where were they? Am I missing something?

The Republican Party is dying, metaphorically and literally. Rupert Murdoch is 81 years old. Roger Ailes is 72, and he doesn’t look all that healthy. David Koch is 72; Charles Koch is 77. These are old guys — and yes, I know Fred Thompson’s mother died just last week and John McCain’s is still alive and kicking. Still, no one lives forever.

So, it will be interesting to see what replaces the Republican Party in the coming decades, and even if that thing will still be called “Republican.” I’m guessing not. I’m guessing the “brand” is so tarnished that whatever new thing rises from its ashes will have a wholly different packaging. But I’m not necessarily optimistic that our new opposition party will be a kinder, gentler form of conservatism — a return to the good ol’ days of reasoned discourse and such. The signs are not good in that regard. What we’ll see may be more diverse, demographically, but my instincts tell me it will be more fascistic and authoritarian, disguised as “privatization” riding in on free market ponies.

Then again, I could be completely wrong. These are interesting times, and I’m a crap prognosticator. Answer cloudy, ask again later.

6 thoughts on “Angry White Men

  1. “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
    And why hasn’t Sen. Graham done his part in “generating” angry white guys? He reminds me of the Roman Catholic hierarchy banging away about the sacredness of marriage and procreation, which makes me wonder why the cardinals and bishops didn’t marry and procreate.

  2. I wish I could be so sanguine about the collapse of the GOP, but it’s been the party of the angry old white man for at least sixty years, and while there aren’t enough actual old white guys to make up a majority voting block, there will always be more than enough for a long time out to lead the party.
    Moreover, they HAVE diversified to some extent. Look at all the angry white women on FOX News. While the Republicans have a comparative deficit of women voters, they do still have a strong contingent of female voters and activists. I can’t help but mention again the book “Men of the Far Right”, published in ’62, where a young Phyllis Schlafly gets a mention among the Smoots and Goldwaters. There’s a never-ending tide of young Republicans, and while it seems like they can’t possibly last forever, they do. Look at Condoleeza Rice. She’s only 57. She’s younger than Madeline Albright was when Albright was appointed Secretary of State. She’s younger than HIllary Clinton when she took the job. People like Rice are going to be around a long, long time.
    Sure, old guys like Bill O’Reilly will shuffle off the mortal coil eventually, but current second-tier mouthpieces are going to be with us into our dotage. Michelle Malkin’s just 41.
    They’re not going anywhere, much as we might hope they would.

  3. SB – how is it that a brand so tarnished managed to destroy the Democratic party in the 2010 elections? What is your answer if the Republicans win this presidential election and a few more Senate seats? It is not impossible that the Republicans could come out of this election with control of the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. Does that sound like a party that is dying?

  4. You’d think Romney would realize that it hasn’t been too long ago that a Mormon wouldn’t be recognized as being a legitimate person to lead prayer (only 30 years ago I remember my Baptist church taught that they were a cult attempting to lure away the faithful from God). I have to complement your link though as practicing an effective way to lie – it starts with a truth (a Muslim will lead an opening prayer) and then evokes a conflagration of Muslims, terrorists, all Muslim organizations fund terrorists, etc.
    You’d think that Graham would realize that he is in a state with a large percentage of blacks with significant portions being majority black. But as my mother observed comparing the Blacks in my native Atlanta to the behavior of a housekeeper for a family member in rural SC (who, for example, prepared the meal and then excused herself) – The Blacks in SC don’t act like the blacks in Atlanta (imagine your best image of the shuckin’ and jivin’ black porter at a railroad).
    And what would Graham think of angry non-whites? I bet it wouldn’t be good.
    Finally, both John Stewart and Bill Maher have some great clips out on the repub convention. I think it was Stewart who said you can deny climate change and believe in creationism as a science as long as you acknowledge the existance of this person…cut to picture of Bush.
    Sorry to be so long winded.

  5. “actual, real Republicans, not just crackpots ranting on street corners, but people who are members of Congress”
    Not telling you what you don’t know, but can we have one of those “pick the source” quote games? Cos the streetcorner ranters and the ‘respectable’ Republicans sound pretty much the same these days.

  6. This is exactly right… especially the part about cultural resentment. In fact there is a discrete segment of conservatism that is promoting economic collapse as a vehicle for the conservative counter-revolution. They are so seething at the loss of their previous cultural privileges that they would destroy the entire middle class in a “shock doctrine” effort to reset the whole shebang. We really need to call them out for the extremist counter-revolutionaries they are. Corey Robin has made valuable contributions to this effort.

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