Everybody pretty much agrees that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich emerged victorious from South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary for one very simple reason: he struck a deep nerve with a strong plurality of voters. What is this nerve rooted in, though? The answer is anger, and lots of it. Gingrich is a tremendously frustrated man, and he frequently uses this negative emotionalism to bolster his appeal. To whom, though, is he appealing?
Statistics of the Palmetto state’s primary electorate reveal that it is none other than the dreaded GOProletariat. For those just tuning in from a planet far, far away, I coined this term shortly after the 2010 midterms to designate typically Republican-leaning voters who dogmatically adhere to right wing ideology, making electoral decisions rooted in sheer emotion, as opposed to cool reason. They are nearly always on the lower end of the educational and economic spectra, and hail from culturally monolithic areas, so their strain of rightism is rooted in populist socio-religious authoritarian schemes rather than fiscal policy.
The more undereducated, low income, and insularly located the voter in question was, the more likely he or she came to support the nearly deposed speaker. This is not family values; what supporter of the traditional family could back an open marriage requester? Nor is it fiscal policy; what serious fiscal conservative could rally around an anti-capitalist? No, this is pure, unadulterated rage; rage at the refined postmodern left manifested in President Barack Obama, rage at the preppy country club aura of Mitt Romney, rage at those Americans who have impressive post-secondary credentials, do not drive a kid-filled minivan to church each Sunday, and work with their minds instead of their hands. In short, this is the long-dismissed and -mocked GOProletarian class rising up against the bicoastal establishmentarian power structure of the United States.
Gingrich himself is merely a means to its members’ collective end. Should another candidate come along touting an even more radically populistic message,he will be dumped like a sack of bricks. This brooding resentment has always been present in the American political arena, but it has spiraled into a massive and dangerous inferiority complex over the last several decades. Beginning with the civil rights movement, and lasting through women’s liberation and gay equality to the present, a very large segment of the population is simply revolted with the way society has developed. They make the infamous mistake of Jay Gatsby in wishing for a repeat of their groupthink rendition of the past, itself an idealistic fantasy not reflective of history. A great many also fret over the changing demographics, religious, racial, and ethnic, of the United States. There is a reason that virtually every last member of the GOProletariat is white and non-mainline Protestant or fundamentalist Roman Catholic: fear.
These people are whipping themselves into a frenzy hoping that, as my favorite Anne Murray song goes, time does not run out on them. Of course it will, and in some ways most definitely for the worst, in terms of my ideas of civil society. However, short of forming an oligarchy, one group simply cannot stem the tide of social change. Like it or not, American culture is now in a twilight period between its patriarchal, Christian-dominated past and a gender-stratified and relatively secular future. This scares the living daylights out of the GOProles, as they are ideologues who see the world in terms of rigid absolutes and cannot cope with the malleable nonconformism headed their way.
Sad as this is to admit, Gingrich does have a very real chance of winning the Republican nomination. However, should such an aberration take place, Obama will obliterate him in the general election. Independents and moderates, justifiably angry as they are with the president, will surely be disgusted by the former speaker’s rank hypocrisy and almost savage method of debate. I believe that Romney will eventually muster up enough delegates to prevent this from happening, but it will be a long and bruising road in any case. Even if he manages to fly the Republican banner during the fall, Romney’s campaign will have been so ransacked by Gingrich and the GOProletariat that he should be a laughably easy target for David Axwlrod, Karl Rove’s Democratic opposite number. Lately, I have floated the idea of Gingrich actually endorsing Obama out of pure spite, in keeping with the former’s total lack of character, and still have no reason to think any differently.
Truly, the once three ring circus of a Republican primary season has degenerated into an all-out flash mob. Should you want to find the agitators in question, you need look no further than the downtrodden and angry underclass of GOP politics, and the repulsive has-been who is being used as its marionette. Since each is benefiting immensely from the other, I do not expect this horrid arrangement to end anytime soon. In the end, Obama & Co. will prove to be the decisive winners, leaving a hollow shell where the Republican Party formerly stood.
Oh, well. I guess that I should take my own advice about accepting social change. It is just so terrible to see the party of Abraham Lincoln, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller and Richard Nixon commit suicide in such a grotesque manner.