When the catalog of evils associated with this regime is toted up, the repugnant behavior of Mark Foley will be ranked relatively low. All the media attention is as nauseating as the revelations it's feeding on. But it's fitting that after last week's disaster with the torture bill, things this week should play out the way they are.
At the end of last week, I was very pessimistic that the GOP would not be defeated in November. But now outrage over Mark Foley appears to be accomplishing what the relatively tepid outrage about legalizing torture and jettisoning habeas corpus could not. We'll see what happens--it may be a tempest in a teapot--but I suppose we should never underestimate the vulnerability of corrupt systems to collapse in on themselves. At least for now the corruption and fatuousness that infects the GOP would appear to be a more significant factor than those right-wing factions within the GOP which seek to destroy what's left of the American republic. And I suppose we should be grateful for that.
The sad thing is that if the GOP goes down, it won't be because it lost to an opponent confronting the regime about its repugnant, disastrous policies, but because the GOP has self-destructed because of sex scandal. (What is it about Republicans and the way it obsesses about sex? It's as if sex is the only thing that is in their mind truly evil and capable of toppling governments. Remember how incredulous those creepy guys like Henry Hyde were when Clinton survived his sex scandal. For them it was an impossible idea that most normal people shouldn't care that much about Clinton's sex life.) We're still left without an alternative course, and so the best we can expect in the near future is continued drift. I'm not complaining, drift is far more desirable than to stay on the course we were on, but so long as we drift, we are vulnerable to be boarded by some other group of pirates and to be hijacked to who knows where.
The country has been more attracted toward the Republicans for the last twenty-five years or so because they have had more energy than the tired, complacent Democrats. But Republican energy has been fundamentally unwholesome deriving from resentment, greed, powerlust, and a nostalgia for an America of the mind that never really existed. (See my posts on Zombie traditionalism here, here, and here.) In other words it feeds off what right-wingers have used since the future collapsed in the West after World War I. The right wing feeds off the carrion of the dead future.
The left has failed to provide a robust opposition to the right because it has not been able to present a living, plausible vision of a better future. As the right derives its energy from a longing for the past, the left derives its energy from a longing for the future, and the culture lacks conviction that such a future is possible. So it's every man and woman for him or herself.
Libertarianism is the ideology that has arisen to rationalize this despairing, decadent condition. Libertarianism is the the "neither-here-nor-thereism" of diffident people who lack conviction that anything is possible together, because they are incapable of thinking that we are all in this together. The Libertarian imagination of freedom decays into a consumerist mentality of choice, and a society under the influence of Libertarian ideas finds itself becoming addicted to the need to "have it my way", and less and less able to work together toward goals defined by a consensual common good. But the more important negative consequence of the Libertarian society is that its people are easy to manipulate by those who would divide and conquer. Libertarianism is the ideology of people who are by definition divided and therefore ripe for domination by those who know how to get organized. Right wingers know how to get organized. You know what their symbol is--the one with the sticks all tied together in a bundle.
I think that if we survive this most recent assault by the right, it will only be because in this go round it has been so stupid and inept. We have been more ripe for the taking than most dare to think. But if it has failed (and we won't know that for sure until November), one thing we can be sure of is that it will regroup and learn from its mistakes. It's only a matter of time before it will mount another assault. And it will find that the infrastructure for repression laid by the current regime will make the task easier for the right in its next go round.