It seems to me that conservatives and Republicans have assumed the GOP is the natural governing party, at least regarding the Presidency and to some extent as it relates to Congress since ‘94, which is why so many have continued to insist that America is a “center-right nation” in face of mounting evidence that it is not and hasn’t been for a while. Symbolic gimmickry does stem in part from a lack of confidence, but it is more the product of a movement and party that have ceased to understand, much less address, most of the pressing concerns of working- and middle-class Americans. The party assumes that all it needs to do is show up, push the right pseudo-populist buttons and reap the rewards, and for the most part the movement cheers. See Palin, Sarah.
But of course, the GOP is not reaping the rewards for this strategy, as working- and middle-class Americans in such places as Ohio and Indiana are becoming increasingly center-left. Why? They experience the income stagnation. They experience the war.
As we all know, income stagnation is something that most conservatives and Republicans have spent years pretending was not happening, because it did not fit in with the assumption that working- and middle-class Americans were thriving as part of the “greatest story never told.” It is the failure to acknowledge and address all of these things along with the preference for using symbolic gimmickry that begin to account for the lamentable states of conservatism and the GOP. There is also the war, but movement and party have become so invested in it that I have my doubts whether they can ever recognize its role in discrediting both with the public.
So…. will conservatives adopt a new strategy? Or will their ever-smaller numbers congregate to engage in the more-of-the-same, i.e., spewing populist rhetoric which only receives applause lines from the furthest fringes of the right?
This week is the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) convention, typically seen as a necessary speaking place for future GOP candidates. It's also where the rabid right can pose with cardboard cutouts of real-life cardboard cutouts — rightwing icons like Palin and "Joe the Plumber" (In the real world, Joe the Plumber is a nobody; a non-entity that can only muster eleven people to come to his book signing). Perhaps we can find an answer there.
That's Cliff Kincard, a writer and editor for the right-wing organization, Accuracy In Media. That's a rather ironic name for his organization, seeing as how he is shown here touting that Obama is a communist who was not born in the United States.
And Ann Coulter hasn't even spoke yet.
This video is a perfect example of why Americans are taking Republicans less and less seriously. People are seeing conservatism as nothing more than a low-brow, ignorant, mob-inspired, tirade.
UPDATE: Even one prominent conservative blogger laments the GOP's inability to become something new:
I’m writing this from the CPAC convention and judging from the speakers, there’s not a whole lot of recognition of the need to update the intellectual platform to accomodate a changed era. It’s as if Jimmy Carter’s still in the White House and Roe vs. Wade was just handed down.