One of the strongest predictors regarding which Party will win the larger number of popular votes in a Presidential-election year – and win the White House, and the House, and the Senate – is the ratio of each Party’s favourable/unfavorable ratings immediately prior to their respective national conventions.The 29 August 2012 Gallup Poll, “GOP Favorability Matches 2008 Pre-Convention Level,”shows the pre-convention favorability ratings of the two Parties going back as far as 1992; and, for the very first time, the crucial favourable/unfavorable ratios are now higher for the Republican Party than for the Democratic Party. For the first time ever, the Democratic favorability ratio, which has always been within the range of 1.20 to 1.56, is now below 1. It is, in fact, a stunningly low .83, which is a marked 31% lower than the prior Democratic Party low of 1.20, which was reached in 2004.
By contrast, the Republican ratio is now .88, which compares with the 2008 ratio of .80, which was that Party’s lowest-ever ratio, reached at the end of the Bush Presidency. Prior to 2008, this ratio was 1.16 in 2004, 1.41 in 2000, 1.16 in 1996, and 1.36 in 1992.
Those figures compare with the Democratic ratios of 1.38 in 2008 (compared with the Republican .80), 1.20 in 2004 (vs. 1.16), 1.56 in 2000 (vs. 1.41), 1.50 in 1996 (vs. 1.16), and 1.42 in 1992 (vs. 1.36). Other than now, Democrats were always preferred to Republicans.
Under President Obama, there has been an unprecedentedly sharp, and first-ever, switch, to preferring the Republican Party, over the Democratic Party.
In fact, the damage that has been done to the Democratic brand during the Obama Presidency, going from a historically normal Democratic ratio of 1.38 in 2008, down 39% to the present abysmal .83, exceeds the Republican fall-offs under each of George W. Bush’s terms, which declined from the Republican ratio of 1.41 in 2000, down 18% to 1.16 in 2004, and then down yet another 31% to the unprecedented low .80 in 2008, which virtually doomed the campaign of Presidential candidate John McCain, and made Obama’s win almost inevitable.
The Democratic brand has thus suffered even more (down 39%) under Obama than the Republican brand suffered under either one of George W. Bush’s terms (-16%, then -31%).
Though George W. Bush did major harm to the Republican brand, Barack Obama is out-doing him, hurting even steeper the Democratic brand, which historically (until now) has always been higher-valued than the Republican brand, not just in these pre-convention polls, but for decades in Party-allegiance.
The fact that Mitt Romney is now merely tied with Obama suggests that the American people are profoundly dissatisfied with him as a Presidential prospect, because his opponent is already extremely damaged goods.
The prospects for a Republican takeover of Congress would thus appear to be unprecedentedly high, on the basis of the Republican favorability ratio now being higher than the Democratic, for the first time ever: .88/.83. The last time that the Parties were this close was in 2004, when the ratio was 1.16/1.20 – a 3% Democratic edge then, as compared to the 6% Republican edge now, which is a history-making reversal of the two Parties’ brand-values: Republicans at last on top as the more-valued brand.
George W. Bush drove Americans away from conservatism, but Barack Obama is even more rapidly driving Americans away from liberalism.
So: where are we heading?
Some basic addition shows where we are heading. If the favorability ratios of the two Parties are added together, the 2012 total (.88+.83) is an unprecedentedly low 1.71. Earlier totals were: 2.18 in 2008, 2.36 in 2004, 3.07 in 2000, 2.66 in 1996, and 2.78 in 1992. The current 1.71 total is 22% below the previous all-time low of 2.18, reached in 2008. What this indicates is unprecedented public alienation towards the government – towards democracy itself.
In short: We are heading away from democracy, into the far-right: fascism. Because of Obama’s failures, the public’s revulsion at Bush has not become a movement away from conservatism; it has instead been transformed into a flight away from liberalism, drawing Americans even farther to the right than they were under Bush. Thus, today’s unprecedented (since 1930) switch in brand-preference, to the Republican Party.
A different Gallup poll, which demonstrated the current dangerously unstable ideological schizophrenia of the American electorate, was analysed by me at businessinsider.com on August 27th, under the headline “Americans Think Policies That Are Good For The Country Would Be Bad For Themselves.” I explained there Americans’ unprecedented political disgust, and the causes of voters’ post-1980 ever-increasing alienation from government, starting with Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address saying, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Of course, in a dictatorship, what Reagan said is true. But saying this in a democracy is condemning not dictatorship, but really democracy itself.
Barack Obama seems to be climaxing Reagan’s work of delegitimizing democratic government, and perhaps this is a precursor to its imminent termination. That article also explains the current Gallup Poll’s finding of a plunge in favorability-rating of the Democratic Party, because it shows why this country has been moving politically farther and farther to the right since Reagan.
America is thus entering new political territory, heading now into the far right.
Americans are especially vulnerable to this ideology because of the widespread ignorance of the history of ideology. For example, the current Republican Party champions privatization of governmental functions (Medicare, Social Security, public schools, and others), as if this were an indication of their promotion of “liberty.”
But such privatization was also a big aim of the elite fascists when fascism was fashionable in the 1930s. Germa Bel’s “Against the Mainstream: Nazi Privatization in 1930s Germany,” in the February 2010 Economic History Review, notes that, whereas “Privatizations in Chile and the UK, which began to be implemented in the 1970s and 1980s, are usually considered the first privatization policies in modern history, … none of the contemporary economic analyses of privatization takes into account an important, earlier case: the privatization policy implemented by the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in Germany.”
But, if Hitler was, in this sense, perhaps the first successful “Austrian economist,” he – like Mussolini – prided himself on being a “man of action” instead of any sort of theoretician at all; and so, he left us no economic writings, such as did Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises (who was von Hayek’s teacher), and other better-known Austrian economists – the predecessors of Milton Friedman and other Reaganaut Republican economists.
Let us hope that this decades-long rightward Reagan trend reverses, because we’re already perilously close now to reaching fascism as a reaction against democracy, just as happened in Germany (when the Nazis won the most votes of any party, on 31 July 1932), and this movement rightward is accelerating during Obama’s Presidency, irrespective of whether he has any intention to drive the ideology farther to the right. (The Weimar Government certainly did not intend it, back then.)
Even conservative Tim Carney seems now to be concerned about the Republican Party’s direction, when he headlines in the Washington Examiner on August 29th, “Republican Leaders Trample Their Grassroots in Tampa,” and reports the Party’s blatant and rampant violations of convention rules in order to block dissident factions from making motions. So, even among conservatives, that surging authoritarianism now raises fears. (This, too, parallels what happened in the German case.)
The U.S. has not yet reached fascism, but the Republican Party might be there already, ready to lead us the final step of the way. They could soon rule the House, the Senate, and the White House.
The danger of outright fascism coming soon in Washington is real – the culmination of Reagan’s rightward thrust. It’s shown not just in the polling data, but in each day’s news, especially when viewed in the light of history. Everyone should be made aware of it.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
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