This story of Dick Armey trying to take over FreedomWorks with a gun-wielding enforcer in tow cracked me up. There’s a lot that’s outrageous here but the part that got me was the way they got rid of him: they wrote him an $8 million check. If only all of our gun-wielding nutjobs were appeased so easily.
Also: I’m pretty sure when a guy walks into an office with an armed accomplice and walks out with money the word for that is robbery. But I’m just an old-fashioned housewife from Tennessee. What do I know.
This is how your modern Republican Party works, people. It’s all about the Benjamins. It’s funny because just last night I read “Blues Cruise,” New York Magazine’s take on the NRO’s post-election Caribbean cruise, followed by Bruce Bartlett’s post-election bridge-burner, “Revenge Of The Reality-Based Community.” Both pieces present different sides of the same coin, which is the GOPs alternate reality problem. And what I realized after reading them both is that conservatism, and the Republican Party in particular, is no longer a political party or ideology. No, it has disintegrated into an elegant, elaborate money-making scheme. What Dick Armey did with his gun-toting friend is the apotheosis of modern, institutionalized conservatism. It’s simply perfect. Hollywood couldn’t write a better epilogue for the GOP’s election loss.
Here’s the thing: A lot of us have looked with great puzzlement at the Republican Party’s strict allegiance to an alternate conservative reality, their disinterest in facts, and their willful denialism (or, to use the wonky term, “epistemic closure”). It makes no sense to anyone looking at the GOP as a political operation. This self-sequestration into a conservative bubble is completely at odds with what a political movement should do. Don’t they want to win elections? Don’t they want broad appeal? Isn’t the point to put your policy stamp on the governing mechanism? Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about?
But no, we’ve had it all wrong. They don’t want to govern. That’s the last thing they want. They want money. End, full stop. They want to keep the national amygdala tweaked, keep telling the rich precisely what they want to hear, and keep the donations flooding in. Spend that money on renting your own mailing list to ask for more donations. Or another con, it doesn’t matter. As long as the money keeps coming. It’s really that simple. It’s all a huge grift.
This isn’t a new revelation by any means — Rick Perlstein pretty much laid it out in The Long Con: Mail Order Conservatism — but I always assumed the con referred to a few leeches sucking off the system. There will always be some Glenn Beck types playing the rubes in Missouri and Tennessee, selling their snake oil and taking advantage of the gullible in flyover states. But I didn’t realize the whole fruit was rotten. I didn’t realize, until now, that the con is the point of the Republican Party. The Republican Party and all of its ancillary operations are simply mechanisms for making money. Again: end, full stop.
This explains so much. It explains all of the petty graft at the heart of the GOP. It explains why we have dysfunction in Washington. One party doesn’t want to win the policy debate, they don’t really care about their legislation, they just want a talking point for the next fundraising letter.
And it explains the incredible infrastructure they’ve built up — the think tanks, the polling firms, the media outlets, and on and on. It’s all carefully (and expensively) crafted to reinforce a conservative alternate reality, firmly planted sometime in 1988 when Reagan was still president, whites were still a majority, the Soviets were our clear-cut enemy, and conservative ideas still had some credibility.
That reality is 25 years in the past but shh… don’t tell conservatives that. They might stop the money flow.