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Can the Christie Bridge Scandal Damage Democracy?

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The Northern White Rhinoceros is listed as the most endangered species on Earth, but truly, the other "RINO," the moderate Republican is virtually extinct. With Chris Christie's ongoing Bridgegate "scandal," U.S. democracy might be joining the New Jersey governor's political future, going the way of the Dodo bird as well.

Ft. Lee may or may not be Christie's Waterloo, but both the left and the libertarian-funded Tea Party on the far, far right are working very hard to scuttle the New Jersey governor's presidential aspirations.

Christie is a neoconservative (neocon). Hardly moderate, he remains the lone potential conservative candidate who appears moderate enough to millions of disaffected "Independent" voters, fiscal conservatives who de-aligned because of the Republican Party's increasingly extremist social agenda, and tough enough to tackle the well-funded Tea Party within the GOP.

The closing of the George Washington Bridge for alleged political retaliation should be investigated. The Wagnerian drama surrounding it, though, is more political calculus than moral outrage.

The left would like nothing better than a 2015-2016 replay of the GOP Presidential Primary sideshow of 2011-2012, with its freak circus of religious zealots, rabid, barking dogmatists, and wild-talking village idiots.

Even if there were a "moderate" in the pack, they would be Romneyed: Forced to take on such extreme primary rhetoric on social and civil rights that walking it all back in the general election would be as impossible as it was for Romney, who tried to please everyone in his bipolar caucus. Good news for Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner, and for the fortunes of Democrats nationwide.

There is more at stake for the libertarian far right: Chris Christie and a bridge between New York and New Jersey are rapidly becoming the Gettysburg of their GOP Civil War.

If the neocon water-carrier-in-chief is knocked out by the scandal, it may scuttle that faction's attempt to reassert control of the GOP during the 2014 midterms, speed up the Tea Party takeover, and further accelerate the gridlock and paralysis of the people's business in Washington, D.C. and in every state house.

The GOP's factions, neocon and Birch-libertarian (Tea Party) have been separating and squaring off for their Un-Civil War for many years.

Neocons are pro government as long as it serves the interests of corporate America, our military-industrial complex, and our most wealthy. Big government projects that build roads, schools, high tech weapons, wars and even research into next-generation power all usually are doled out to neocon supporters. They are not socially or politically really "moderate," but they are less extreme than the Tea Party.

They may want to privatize the social safety net of Medicare, Social Security, etc, and eliminate waste, but they have recognized that their view is not the only perspective, and compromised with Democrats to strike a rough balance that people of all political stripes have been able to live with and prosper for more than 50 years.

John Bircher libertarians operating and funding the Tea Party are anti-government, and very anti-compromise. They do not acknowledge the validity of the liberal perspective, or their equal right to share in a solution that all can agree upon.

Grover Norquist's famous quote: "My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Their vision is a return to the pre-Herbert Hoover days of 19th century capitalism, free of unions, social safety nets, and any social or fiscal empowerment for minorities, women or the LGBT community. The Kochs in particular hold huge interests in oil. Don't expect much forward funding of clean energy in a Tea Party-controlled Congress.

The Kochs and other key Tea Party funders like the Coors, DeVos, Freiss and Mellon-Scaifes are bypassing American democracy, step by step:

  • Disaffecting voters to the point that 45 percent of the voting public in January of 2014 is now "independent" and public viewpoints of government as a useful tool of the common good is at historic lows.
  • Conditioning of the media to bypass the traditional safety valves of the 4th Estate. All fact-checks are called into question as "spin" when they don't comport to the Libertarian agenda.
  • Replacing Neocons with Tea Party candidates in Republican strongholds puts compliant legislators in seats.
  • Use of the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which puts the real power into Tea Party legislators' hands: Pro-libertarian bills to strip regulations and improve investments while scaling back the New Deal welfare state, containing the rising tide of minorities through the anti-voter bills masked as "voter fraud" initiatives, and limiting the power of women both in the workplace and in their personal decisions about reproduction.

Norquist even became so bold as to suggest that the U.S. President should be little more than a rubber stamp of their policy initiatives:

Both the neocons' and Governor Christie's political ambitions hang from the George Washington Bridge.

The neocon wing of the party would love to rout out the crazies, dimwits and zealots who believe that gridlock is good and compromise, the lubricant of democracy since the nation's founding, is evil.

The Tea Party thrives on the apathy of mid-term elections. It flourished in the 2010 mid-term with the ruins of the Bush economic plan, neocon-backed corporations cutting back political giving in a near-depression, two unpopular wars, and a newly-elected black president represented unprecedented opportunity for an "alternative" to "business as usual in Washington."

Christie represents perhaps the Neocon's best real opportunity for the GOP to take the White House in 2016. He came out of Super Storm Sandy with strong positives for appearing to reach across the aisle to President Obama. His reelection by a wide margin was considered another major stepping-stone to the White House.

Jeb Bush carries the baggage of his name, and few other moderate Republican politicians have the cachet or fundraising power to stand up to the massive wealth and power of the libertarian right.

If Bridgegate either forces Christie to resign, or tarnishes his reputation to the degree that he cannot survive what would surely already be a very difficult and bloody primary season, the neocons will be increasingly purged from the party. Incumbents lost seats in primaries in 2012 at almost double the rate that they did in 2010. Senators Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Roger Wicker and Lindsey Graham all have RINO bullseyes on their backs.

Mid-terms are tough on voter turnout, and polling suggests the likelihood that Democrats, the only other force able to remove a few Tea Party Republicans out of Congress, will stay home.

With Christie potentially out of the mix in 2014, neocon-backing corporate funders might see reason to reserve their funding of Neocon candidates in 2014, even through 2016, waiting for a better opportunity, or for the Tea Party to implode another presidential race, before stepping in more aggressively.

What does this mean for the average American? More gridlock. More difficulty in doing the people's business, advancing any kind of legislation in important areas like immigration reform, clean energy etc.

It will also mean more slashes in the social safety net, and more institutionalization through appointments of bureaucrats at the State and Local level of creating a white male power "umbrella" that can fend off the political and social aspirations of women and minorities, and return the economic and political power of middle-class America to its more powerless pre Great-Depression-era days.

All whitewashed by disaffecting and disconnecting Americans from their political process to the point that the libertarian overlords of the Tea Party can operate freely without compromise.

The death of American democracy.

My shiny two.

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[1] You Get What You Pay For: Conservative Philanthropists Invested in Ideas, and the Payoff Was Huge", James Piereson, Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2004.