Wherein the Legs of the Stool Start Beating Each Other

All this talk about race and gender as it pertains to the Democratic primaries has started me thinking about the Republicans in particular, and makes clear why their fabled three-legged stool — their coalition of neocons, theocons, and dollarcons — was destined to fail. And why it will be a long time before it re-forms. If it ever does.

The answer lies in looking at the personas assumed by the men. In all three cases, there is a ferocity to the image of the “ideal” man, but the nature of the ferocity is distinctly different.

Among the neocons, the focus is on protecting themselves, their families, their way of life, and their country from any potential harm. They are ferocious in this effort, feeling themselves to be the champions of all things good and worthy. They will rattle sabers, talk tough, stumble over themselves trying to out-Bauer Jack Bauer, pooh-pooh waterboarding and other forms of torture, and play their superhero roles to the hilt.

The theocons, however, are ferocious in their faith. They readily defend it, decry modern concepts — such as women working — as evidence of the decline of faith, and hunger for opportunities to testify to their faith. A return to the 1950s, complete with a godless Soviet enemy, would be Nirvana for them. They see themselves as the defenders of all things godly, wielding their Bibles and prayer books like light sabers and gamma ray guns.

Finally, the dollarcons direct themselves into the competitive arenas of business and influence. These are busy guys, occupied with weighty matters such as deregulation, lobbying, outsourcing, and increasing the bottom line. Their weapons of choice are their checkbooks, the cojones to take big risks, and access to power brokers who will do their bidding.

While these three visions of an “ideal” man are headed in different directions, they can effect a truce as long as their objectives are not mutually exclusive.

But once their coalition gets into power, and gets to stay there for more than the briefest glitters of time, these guys each go to their respective extremes and, at that point, they are totally incompatible.

The neocon, taken to extremes, becomes a brute. They swagger and threaten indiscriminately, revel in their disregard for even certain consequences of their actions, and dismiss those who dare to question them as insufferable wimps.

The extreme theocon becomes a crusader. He is no longer content with allowing practitioners of other religions to be wrong in their beliefs but otherwise unmolested. He wants to convert them all, preferably by persuasion and subtle force, to the one true religion. That one true religion, of course, is whatever one he espouses.

Dollarcons, taken to extremes, become brazenly unethical and inhumane in their business practices. In so doing, they hurt our own citizens the most. When they run rampant, people die in mine disasters, lose their jobs along with their pensions and health insurance, are irreparably harmed by unsafe drugs and other products, and are forced to work harder and produce more while never reaping any of the benefits of their hard work.

The extreme neocon is criticized by the theocon for not attacking all Muslims, while the dollarcon hates to see the results of his hard work squeezing blood from a turnip be wasted on things that don’t directly benefit him.

The extreme theocon is denigrated by the neocon for being too concerned about wimpy matters when there’s a world to save, and the dollarcon sees him as having his priorities directed toward some pie-in-the-sky notion that has no dollar value.

The dollarcons, of course, will rip off the neocons by selling (e.g.) overpriced but ineffective munitions, while dismissing the theocons as longing for the good old days that are never coming back.

Can they regroup? Perhaps. They’ve done it before, but the contrasts and contradictions have probably never been so blatant before.

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