Is Fox News destroying the GOP?
In the last year, a very interesting thing has happened. We have watched folks like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin become instant millionaires (Beck earned $32 million and Sarah Palin $12 million since leaving office in July). We have watched CNNand MSNBC struggle for viability as Fox News ratings soar.
We have watched as the myths they spill into the airwaves, such as death panels and prison sentences for people who do not purchase health care, become true in the minds of some Americans. We have watched the polls turn decisively against the Democrats, Obama and on a larger scale, liberalism in general.
But the star power driving the conservative movement is not traditional political leaders. Republicans holding elected offices have been riding the coattails of the Big Media, either clueless or helpless to the fact that they have lost control over the conservative debate and agenda.
Back in the 1990s during President Bill Clinton’s term, the conservative movement and takeover of Congress was led by Newt Gingrich. Remember the Contract with America? But now, it’s being led by the far right and it’s Glenn Beck. It’s Sean Hannity. It’s Sarah Palin. It’s Bill O’Reilly. It’s Rush Limbaugh.
During the 90s, such voices were muted by the real opinion shapers. Now, the cattle callers have taken overt. That is where the platform is being designed, shaped and disseminated.
For the longest time, critics of Fox News have assumed it was doing the bidding of the GOP. But without a charismatic leader, the tables have turned. Now, the Republicans are doing the bidding of Fox News. And that means the cultural conservatives have won the internal battle inside the GOP.
The establishment Republicans never would have condoned the immigration law in Arizona. If you remember back when the nation debated immigration reform back in 2004, former President George Bush, Sen. John McCain and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most devoutly Republican lobbying arms in the nation, were among comprehensive immigration reforms biggest supporters. They were happy to lure immigrant workers into the U.S. since they're cheaper to employ.
If it weren’t for the Fox News-inspired purity test, the GOP never would have turned its back on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. It wasn’t that long ago that the GOP groomed him for a run at the White House. And to be honest, he's one of the few Republicans who even have a ghost of a chance at the White House. But, now, in the era of the Fox Party, he’s not conservative enough.
The Fox Party is far worse that the Republican Party. It's solely tribalistic. It's vehement. And it will either destroy any reasonable-minded Republicans left in the tent or expel them much like it has expelled Crist.
The Fox Part is laced with sentimentality of the past. It's at war with liberalism. It seeks to reclaim a time when America was solely Christian, white and the undeniable ruler of the free world. And it's battle cry is clear: “They” (minorities and liberals ) are coming to get “You” (white conservative real Americans). They want to take your money. They want to take your guns. They want to take your liberty. They will stop at nothing in pursuit of their socialist agenda. And “they” are the enemy.
But fortunately, it's doomed to implode. The demographics are changing rapidly in this country. A dominant national party cannot be sustained by the Tea Party, second amendment advocates and the religious right. The Republican Party needs the fiscal conservatives and cultural moderates it is currently expelling.
What has all the conservative hype accomplished? So far, a few electoral victories -- in Virginia, Massachusetts and New Jersey. But long-term, the impact is much more self destructive.
And what’s even more ironic is that the “liberal” policies it fights against are still prevailing.
- The stimulus package -- it passed. It was a huge blow to the idea of limited government and simply passing on tax credits to spur economic growth.
- The Jobs bill -- another slap in the face to the supply side economic thinking.
- Heath care reform --- the most important piece of legislation in more than a decade that seeks essentially to tax the rich in order to provide care for the poor.
- Financial reform -- once again, a huge slap in the face to the Wall Street-backed, free market rules, thinking of the Republican establishment.
And that only represents policies the Republicans have already lost. They are bound to lose Don't Ask Don't Tell within the next year. There are the other policy issues they will lose due entirely to the actions of the far right, Fox-inspired, wing of the Republican Party. Let’s take immigration reform for instance. The far right down in Arizona have effectively given new life to comprehensive immigration reform simply by overplaying their hand. There is no way the Democrats or Obama would have touched that issue in his first term, when he had to worry about Congressional elections.
And then, there has also been the serendipitous -- the tragic mining failure in West Virginia, which breathed new life into the labor movement and the recent oil spill on the Gulf, which has turned their mantra “Drill Baby Drill” into a joke of epic environmental proportions. That breathes new life into cap and trade.
In the end Fox News may continue to win the battle of words in the public square, but it will lose the war in terms of policy and governance.