Extremists as dying meteors of conservative reform era

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Nov 18, 2015 1 Comment ›› Dan Bodine
Pretty well sums up GOP's current extremism, as right-wing libertarians attempt to out-shoot each other to take over the party. But is this the XXXX that author YYYY referred to years ago in his definitive book on political movements? Election 2016 should be a tell-tale sign!

Words of author and noted PBS’ “Prairie Home Companion” series speaker Garrison Keillor above pretty well sum up the GOP’s current extremism, as social minimalists passing as libertarians with a divine light attempt to out-shoot each other to take over the party. Is this light-up-the-sky, falling-meteor way of ending what longtime UNC political science professor Michael Lienesch referred to in a definitive piece on conservative reform movements? [Ref. info below] Election 2016 should be a tell-tale sign.


By Dan Bodine


A Cal Poly ethics professor, bothered about corpocracy’s high CEO salaries a few days ago — especially relative to high drug prices — did an unthinkable. He dared to ask if corporations feel responsible for adverse effects of prices or products? In effect, do they have souls? In what is still a conservative reform era?

Such as a cancer patient dying here or there for lack of something they can’t afford. Or people turning to soup lines just so they can buy medicines. Such as our society is now. So, in these explosive, angry times largely driven by GOP’s dying angst, who do you turn to for government help? When Republican lawmakers have government shackled?

Certainly don’t look to corporations to get off the sidelines! Not yet. They’re not on board yet! Not yet. There’re more fireworks coming!

My circuitous point is all this reminds me how conservative reform movements usually end in our history — e.g., in spectacles.

And signs are everywhere now — If we’re not there, we’re close! But elections are what seal the deal. And we’re not to November yet! Hold the corporate gravy!

Like “meteors in our political skies,”[1] one political scientist noted of such endings, burning themselves out in flames of dying glory before falling out of the sky.

And in growing, political dead space then, comes a new rush of humanity — a coagulation of new community spirits to ease suffering. Or preventing such misguided reform from ever re-occurring.

Then will emerge from the sidelines the community corporation! Like an old friend!

Something’s amidst now, yes. In many places a new way of thinking about growth and capitalism is being discussed. (See, i.e., old, decaying malls.)

Many are calling it new urbanism, especially as related to the sprawl era. The City of El Paso calls its plan, smart growth. Works exponentially. Thru private-sector collaborative agreements. Conservative reform? Might as well talk about old, useless baggage!

And because of this, the question Prof. Steven Mintz dared ask — particularly Big Pharma’s drug prices, whether a corporation feels responsible — struck a nerve with me.

Isn’t this basically about human rights? Something anathema to the far right? When the far right still’s at the controls?

It’s the wrong question.

Who or what’s driving these libertarian extremists?! The ones attempting to show only their way should be Thee Way of the Republican Party now? The party that controls Congress! Where’d their godly onus come from? Are their g-strings really tied to the Good Lord Above?! Is that still even permissible?

Or, is there a scent of monetary gain (aka, support) for them hidden somewhere? Lobbied and pledged in the name of Progress, of course! That fabled city of glistening gold, high on the mountain over yonder! “We there yet!?”

Scan a few recent news headlines! You’ll see some of these people. (For quicker examples, just go to

— “God raising up Ted Cruz to save America’s Soul!” proclaims the headline, quoting why Cruz’d picked up a major Senate endorsement in his presidential bid.

Share the glory and convert all Jews possible; Christ’s return is just around corner! — from former U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman, who’s in Israel this week with Family Research Council [know who’s funding it?] — broadcasting his “Washington Watch” radio program.

“We recognize the shortness of the hour,” Bachman said, “and that’s why we as a remnant want to be faithful in these days and do what it is that the Holy Spirit is speaking to each one of us, to be faithful in the Kingdom and to help bring in as many as we can — even among the Jews…”

Personally, it’s like what my dad once said — seems like late 50s maybe early 60s — about a group of holy rollers in town who’d gathered several miles out west of Cleburne, TX, one Sunday to meet Jesus on his arrival back to earth. Nuts!

“Welcome back, dearest Teacher!” they wanted to say.

Turned out to be another no show though!

“They’re nuts!” dad said. “They’ve sold their houses, furniture, everything, to prepare for this. And now… You start going around to these furniture stores, say. Some of the merchants are making a killin’ off of this!”

Corporate soul? Capitalism lost its “soul” with the community contract! Remember the ol’ scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours? Forced integration, modernization, shredded it.

As we come back together now — supposedly all of us gyrating in different interest spheres now but still at least in the same galaxy; looking for common binding glue as supports — we need this new contract. Holy yes! A new soul!

Interstate highways arrived just before integration, enabling flight over confrontation. Folks left large cities in droves for became suburbia; and when fuel prices opened the Sunbelt, greedy corporations similarly jumped on the flight bandwagon and re-located to cheaper labor and operating markets. Community soul?

Social minimalism, radical capitalism’s mostly dormant sidekick, sprang up as an infectious disease again in its wake — like rats multiplying around a moldy cheese factory.

Soul!!? Responsibility!? To what? Whom? The Sunday preacher who rails at you for dropping church contributions?! The teachers union ’cause you’re not giving as much to the schools as you use to?

You want “soul,” try selling advertising for a community newspaper. When 70 percent of the readers mostly shop (excluding food perishables) at the nearest big-box stores in a major urban area somewhere, out of town!

Never forget the derision Pete Herrera at M.B.’s Supermarket in Presidio gave me one day. Presidio’s on the Rio Grande, in Far West Texas

“What?! You looking for a handout?! Most of my customers come from ACROSS! In Mexico!!! Why put something in your paper!?”

What’s your sales pitch to incentivize local advertising in times of flight!? A ticket to heaven? A gold star Sunday-School lapel pin? Made in China?

Traditional “ties that bind” in U.S. communities began weakening with the re-emergence of autonomy in the Sunbelt, America’s old nemesis, the neoliberalists. They stick their heads out when the sun shines, yes! Let’s go play!

The latest version of Community‘s old values loosened. Almost-frantic ways to re-define them then came. Hucksterism popped up from its rat-hole to monopolize on it!

Now, decades later, it appears with a “New Humanism” emerging finally, there are hints of new values — race, cultural, ethic diversity, religious tolerance, etc.

What Dr. Mintz above appears to really ask is:  Has old community — that basic interdependency on each other one feels as a living community‘s “soul” (shattered by modernity; reappearing in disparate but still local satellite spheres now) — re-assembled itself to the point one can sense obligation to others again?

If that’s the question, then maybe yes. Conservative reform movements are not new to American history, after all. They all die!
And the showy, meteor breakup-description occurring in the GOP fits this end-times scenario of collapsing movements, at least as described by one well-known university professor.
This latest one started when Ronald Reagan and Republican cohorts enlisted the Moral Majority, and rode a tide of voter dissatisfaction thru the 1980 elections — into the White House. It appears another election 36 years later now will signal its official end.

If so, look for pharmaceutical drug prices to start dropping eventually.

Corporations will see The Light again.

Even though it may take years to fully define it, a new American soul is emerging.
Pass the gravy please!
—– 30 —–
[1] — longtime UNC Professor Michael Lienesch, “Right-Wing Religion: Christian
Conservatism as a Political Movement” Political Science Quarterly 97 (1982-83) :403.

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