The Apocalypse Caucus

At Talking Points Memo, I came across a new–and very apt–term to describe the rabid members of the House GOP: the apocalypse caucus.

There is no doubt that members of this caucus are out of step with the vast majority of Americans–including the majority of Republicans. They are a small tail that is wagging a large and unhappy dog. Their ability to win election–and then pull their saner comrades to the far Right–is explained by a structural anomaly and what Bill Bishop has dubbed “The Big Sort.”

When 2015 rolls around, Steve King is going to have a lot more company. As the Republican House majority looks to add seats, both the House and the GOP caucus will shift rightward. The self-parodying display of conservatism required in red-district primary contests has resulted in a striking new crop of future members for the Apocalypse Caucus….

The new class of Republicans will join an already-large faction of extreme conservatives in the House, representing districts that are out of step with the rest of the country. Reporting on the members who drove last year’s government shutdown, Ryan Lizza notes that:

The ability of eighty members of the House of Representatives to push the Republican Party into a strategic course that is condemned by the party’s top strategists is a historical oddity….these eighty members represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular. Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed.

Why does the hard right edge of the GOP have such sway over national politics? Because Speaker John Boehner depends on them. He needs their votes to hold on to the gavel, and he needs to craft legislation to appeal to enough of them so he doesn’t need to rely on Democratic votes to pass bills. The Apocalypse Caucus sets the agenda.

The right wing of the GOP is energized by a wide network of donors, activist groups and — especially — media outlets, in which conservative politicians compete for attention, votes and dollars by trying to out-right-wing each other. There’s essentially no such thing as a Republican moderate any more, since in order to get to November, any Republican needs to get through this gauntlet.

It’s like watching the brakes fail on a driverless car that gains speed as it rolls down a hill…..

15 thoughts on “The Apocalypse Caucus

  1. I commented recently in one of my many tirades that we are living with our own Apocalypse due to the conditions in this current Congress. Nice to know someone of authority agrees and is speaking out to so many who read and respond; thanks Sheila affirmation of my sometimes rabid outlook. These are frightening times for this country and the world. Even with the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy during the turbulent 1960’s, the violence of the civil rights movement or the terrorist attacks on 9/11, I was never afraid for the entire country. Now I fear being destroyed BY my own country; NOT the leadership of President Obama but by those who would destroy all of us, including their own constituents, with their racism, bigotry, hatred and avarice and using distorted Bible quotes to do so in the name of God. Apocalypse does mean destruction and destruction of our American way of lfe is the aim of Boehner and his privately owned House of Representatives who only represent the 1%.

  2. And meanwhile the Democratic Party is pushed to the left by the far-left liberals in their party that don’t represent mainstream values. This has been going on forever.

  3. Sheila, as always, you hit the nail right on the head! These words sum it all up very succinctly, “The right wing of the GOP is energized by a wide network of donors, activist groups and — especially — media outlets, in which conservative politicians compete for attention, votes and dollars by trying to out-right-wing each other. There’s essentially no such thing as a Republican moderate any more, since in order to get to November, any Republican needs to get through this gauntlet.”
    In addition to this, we also have to deal with absolute hate, distrust, and bigotry that this “media” continues to stir up and promote. There is NO media left in the US that is not controlled and manipulated! It is not even what they print as much as what they don’t print that is damaging , unfair and unjust. They rely on the ignorance, fear and prejudice of so many poorly read and informed to control and manipulate. In addition, they have caused Americans to look ridiculous to the rest of the world.
    I am more concerned than ever about the fate and direction of our country.

  4. “The ability of eighty members of the House of Representatives to push the Republican Party into a strategic course that is condemned by the party’s top strategists is a historical oddity….”

    Could be written:

    The ability to buy through big media advertising enough votes to elect eighty members of the House of Representatives that push the Republican Party into a strategic course that is condemned by the party’s top strategists is a historical oddity….

    While it may be a historical oddity it is more than a plausible reality given the successful wealth redistribution that is both cause and effect. In fact the evidence for it is overwhelming. It’s what is.

    The sign of our time is brand marketing, creating cultures loyal to your product. Our problem stems from areas of the country known for strong cultural alignment. Evangelicals, gun nuts, racists and others are strongly gripped by what they see as their heritage. There’s no better evidence than Duck Dynasty. Our problem and the middle east’s problem with groups like ISIS are of the same seed. Their Mullahs and our oligarchs are the same except for their specific goals (souls vs dollars) and tactics (killing vs impoverishing).

    Their skills at brand marketing will get more effective over time and as more and more wealth gets moved their way. We have been unable to muster much of a cultural counter attack. The fight for America is on.

    One of the reasons that climate change moved from sensible science leading necessary solutions to a barroom brawl is because oligarchs are counting on fossil fuels to fund their takeover. We can kill two birds with one stone by getting off of those drugs. Let’s starve the Mullahs and the oligarchs and save the earth for us.

  5. There are so few progressive left in the Democratic party that you have to count them on one hand. The only ones I see are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson.

  6. Watching the PBS series on the Roosevelts, it was enlightening to see that TR was going against his own class in a huge way by opposing the oligarchs of his day. It was like seeing our own time through the eyes of history. Chase and his other robber baron cohorts thought they could control the country, believing in their hubris that they were more intelligent and entitled than the lower classes. How much different is it now when the oligarchs of our time spend billions manipulating the populace through outright lies, fear mongering and misdirection? It is astonishing that so many people are willing to accept the pap we are fed as “fair and balance” when most of it anything but. Are the riots of that time our fate today? Will people move to take back what is being eroded like water torture, an attack add at a time? To echo Pete, I don’t know. I just don’t know.

  7. Not true, Paul. The Dems haven’t run anything close to a left winger since Henry Wallace. Look at the ? in office now. Talking about wag the dog!

    Look at how much we lost under Clinton and will probably lose more under his wife. (NAFTA) Even Carter wasn’t nearly red-meat enough for us. Left wing? Do you intend to vote for Liz? Know anyone who is?

    Nope, Buddy. As long as we’ve got the Colts and now the Fuel, we don’t need anyone with an IQ above room temperature to lead us. How ’bout them Pacers?

    You see, there’s a thing the GOP fully understands that is a little too deep for us: When you get in power, enact the worst stuff imaginable and when we’re out, the divided Dems won’t be able to do a thing about it. When they’re in we hold, when we’re in we gain. Been like that since Lincoln. Meanwhile, our eyes are watching god.

    As an aside: Why is Ginsberg holding on to her seat? Stevie Wonder can see the peril. The only possible explanation would be money and lots of it. Who has lots of money? If you were 80 yrs old with Children/Gchildren to think about, what would you do? Just sayin’.

  8. There have always been oligarchs. Effective mass media brand marketing is what’s new. And relatively more wealthy oligarchs with much more to gain.

  9. Paul, you obviously didn’t live though the late 60s and early 70s if you think the Democratic Party is tacking to the Left. Your lens is way too narrow.

  10. How many wish the Democratic party WOULD shift back to the left? Trying to appear middle-ground to please everyone (we used to call that sucking up) has lost ground for the party, the loyal voters and the country. Those who could take action have forgotten that being on the left, being liberal, means we are open-minded and willing to change. They need to either s#+t or get off the pot. Now, the powers-that-be have given up all power to the money-changers in the GOP temple called the House of Representatives. This state has provided some of the worst offenders with our local Monument To Graft (called Lucas Oil Stadium) in the middle of downtown Indianapolis.

  11. Republicans have been successful for some time in defining terms such as “liberal, conservative,” etc.

    I quite agree that the Democrats are seemingly more “left” because the GOP is dominated by the very extreme right wing, so that they are not incorrect when they refer to Democrats as being the “left” even though Democratic ideology seems to me to be middle of the road, reflecting a mind set (and fear) that they have had since the Reagan years of fear of being “too liberal” in (I think) a misguided attempt to appeal to the same electorate that RR appealed to.

    I am reminded of the GOP mantra in the 40’s and 50’s in trying to set themselves apart from the New Deal in opposing “me-Tooism” simply as a way to distinguish themselves from the prevailing political mainstream.

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