My theory about the GOP, which I am about to relate, is mine, that is to say, ahem, my theory, which I have, which is mine, is mine...

>> Friday, August 09, 2013

I have had an epiphany about the Republican Party.  Especially the state chapters or franchises or whatever they're calling themselves, the Republicans of Wisconsin and North Carolina and also of Virginia and Texas and so many other states, mostly down here in the South.

I think.  I think I have figured something out, or have a hypothesis.  Well.  It's probably wrong.  Hanlon's Razor tells us, more or less, that mean and stupid is generally a better explanation for things than conspiracy.  Not that conspiracies don't happen; Hanlon's Razor is like Occam's, it doesn't tell you what's true, it just gives you a device for evaluating the probability of competing hypotheses.

But let me tell you about this hypothesis.  Which I haven't checked, by the way, to see if it's uniquely mine.  It wouldn't shock me if this notion had been floated before.  But I have arrived at it independently, for whatever that might be worth.

I've been reading The Handmaid's Tale.  We'll start there.  Just in explaining how I got where from whence.  I've adored Margaret Atwood for years now, but by way of short stories and Oryx And Crake and The Year Of The Flood; I remember when Handmaid's Tale was a big honking deal in the 1980s but I never got around to it at the time, and in perusing Atwood's back catelogue it's taken me a little while to get around to her most (in)famous work.  I suppose this is ironic, yes.  Or perhaps not, perhaps, I admit, the fact Handmaid's Tale is her best-known work is actually a reason it wasn't the first book of hers I picked up when I followed her short fiction with novels and one novel with another; everyone's read The Handmaid's Tale or at least had a copy in their possession sometime (it's one of those books, I suspect, that everyone buys because everyone's buying it, but nobody knows who's actually read it, though from one point-of-view it's all okay anyway because Ms. Atwood's royalty check cashes the same regardless), you almost don't want to be seen with a copy yourself out of some irrational worry people will think you're just reading The Handmaid's Tale.  "No," you'd want to say (for no sensible reason at all), "I actually really like Margaret Atwood, I kind of consider myself a fan, I read The Blind Assassin before I even thought about picking up a copy of this."  It's stupid, I know; it's like being embarrassed to be caught listening to Led Zeppelin IV and wanting everyone to know you'd rather be listening to Houses Of The Holy.

I've digressed.  Badly.

I've been reading The Handmaid's Tale, and I'm nearly finished but not completely finished, so tell me nothing of the final chapters.

I've been reading The Handmaid's Tale, anyway, and I was thinking about the likelihood of this particular kind of ultrareligious, fundamentalist Christian, misogynistic dystopia actually coming to pass.  Dystopias are really fantasies of a sort, you know: however carefully crafted and logically thought-through, the real point isn't necessarily the likelihood of most of Western Europe and America falling thrall to some kind of paranoid party-based oligarchy, say for instance, but rather to offer the reader some insight about the present--the awfulness of Stalinist Russia, for example.  I wouldn't say there's ever been that much likelihood of the United States becoming a puritanical theocracy, even with the Religious Right being such a vehement and vocal (and influential) part of contemporary American politics--at some point, those religious values come into direct conflict with the greediness of the libertarian commercial wing of the coalition, and things get fractious even if the GOP's managed to hold things together with duct tape and expressions of hatred towards the Left.

(Expressions of hatred, I say.  Interesting thing, that.  But I don't want to get ahead of myself.)

But so: I'm thinking about the plausibility of The Handmaid's Tale (as opposed to the narrative logic, which is a different kind of plausibility), and I'm thinking about all the GOP efforts to shut down abortion clinics in my home state, and in Texas and throughout the American South, and how this is ostensibly a blow against reproductive freedom.  Is a blow against reproductive freedom, make no mistake, but I write "ostensibly" there because, of course, what closing down abortion clinics in the South really accomplishes is to merely make abortion a wealthy woman's prerogative as it often was before Roe v. Wade: wealthy women will still have the option of making trips to New York and Massachusetts and other states that value a woman's right to control what goes on in her own uterus.  It's the poor who will find themselves without the means to drive a hundred miles to the nearest clinic that solely meets all the new regulatory standards intended to close even it down, much less will the poor be able to travel a thousand miles to some more-enlightened state.

Well, you know, that's when it hit me.  What's really going on here.  Well.  What might be going on.  Probably isn't going on, because Hanlon's Razor, etc..  But maybe could be possibly going on.

What's the consequence of making abortion unavailable to the poor, after all?  Or reproductive care and choice altogether, for that matter?  (After all, these "conservatives" are also opposed to providing access to birth control in general--to the poor, I mean, since here, too, the rich will be able to go on ordering prophylactics online, paying for birth control pills out of their own pockets, etc..)  The consequence, unless the poor take things into their own hands in back alleys and that kind of thing, will be a surge in their population: there will be more poor people.

But this isn't something that happens in a vacuum, you know!

For instance, these poor folks will be unemployable, thanks to the GOP's educational policies.

And those who do find jobs will be unable to make a living wage, thanks to the GOP's labor policies and their economic policies.

And they will all be disenfranchised, lacking the right to vote thanks to all the GOP's efforts at so-called "election reform" and some unprecedentedly egregious gerrymandering above and beyond what their predecessors in their own party or in their rivals' party ever assayed.

What these poor, disenfranchised proletarian masses will have, on the other hand, is a considerable arsenal ready at hand, thanks to the GOP's position on gun-control....

Odin's Beard!

The GOP has obviously been taken over by a sleeper cell of reconstructed Marxists!


David Friday, August 9, 2013 at 11:57:00 AM EDT  

Makes as much sense as any of their announced positions, anyway.

I used to have a button that said, "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity." But as you point out, there's often not much daylight between those two points.

Warner Friday, August 9, 2013 at 2:26:00 PM EDT  

Two unrelated thoughts, and I'm not going to try to provide cites for either:

At the time abortion started to become legal in a few states, late 60s I think? The Conservatives were at worst indifferent, and at best thought it not a bad idea. There was no religious stigma at all. (I think you will find published articles in some Billy Graham or Oral Roberts related publication).

In the early 70s there was a theory that Richard Nixon was a sleeper communist agent planted in the US during WW II.

Steve Buchheit Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 5:38:00 PM EDT  

The terrorists goal is to foment revolution. How, where, and why that revolution begins isn't as important. Attempting to control who rules in the outcome is.

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