If you’re happy that Rush Limbaugh has been giving headaches to Republican leaders trying to find a popular political stance for their shrinking party, you’ll be thrilled to hear about the migraines that a conservative-libertarian talk radio duo named John and Ken are giving to the leadership of the Republican Party in California.
While Limbaugh helps the Democrats by shoving the Republican Party backwards toward an increasingly unpopular combination of militarism and social conservatism, at least his primary targets are Democrats.
Limbaugh wants Obama to fail, not the Republican Party.
In contrast, John and Ken almost never mention Democrats. Their primary target is the leadership and elected officials of the California Republican Party.
And while Limbaugh’s followers are the people whose marginal political power was proven in the last election to be insufficient to prevent the collapse of the Republican Party, the followers of John and Ken are people whose votes and enormous political clout are absolutely essential to California Republicans – the true believers of the California tax revolt.
But before we talk about John and Ken, we need a short history lesson:
Movements of highly motivated true believers are difficult to contain and control, and can become a mortal danger even to their putative leaders and one-time heroes.
During the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre was executed by the same mob that he had once incited and led in the Reign of Terror against his enemies.
In Communist China, Mao gave his official blessing to the radical Red Guard movement during the Cultural Revolution for the purpose of consolidating his control over the country’s universities and intellectuals. Within a short time, the Red Guards had created chaos throughout China and threatened to destabilize Mao’s own regime.
In Iran, Abolhassan Banisadr incited and mobilized Islamic opposition to the Shah. Within a year after the Shah was overthrown, Bamisadr was himself deposed and threatened with death by these same Islamic militants.
Now California’s Republican Party leadership faces a similar fate at the hands of the anti-tax extremists who have long served as their own revolutionary guard and army of true believers.
When the tax revolt began in California in the 1970s, the state’s Republican Party leadership was opposed to a constitutional amendment that would limit the government’s ability to raise taxes. They believed — correctly — that such an amendment would lead to enormous budget deficits.
But when Prop 13 was approved in 1978 by an overwhelming 65 percent of the voters, California’s Republican Party leaders – Governor Ronald Reagan above all — quickly hopped on the very top of the anti-tax bandwagon. Ever since, hostility to taxes — in any form and under any and all conditions — has been an article of faith for California’s Republican Party.
The enduring political success of the California tax revolt has given enormous power to anti-tax extremists such as Grover Norquist and his organization, Americans for Tax Reform, as well as the organization of the late tax revolt hero, Howard Jarvis, The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Norquist and Jarvis became, in effect, the ideological leaders of the California Republican Party, and their organizations now serve as the party’s real battlefield force. When Norquist insisted that Republican candidates swear to oppose any tax increase under any and all circumstances, every Republican member of the California legislature signed the Pledge.
It has been an alliance that has served the party well, particularly because these anti-tax organizations are so effectively run and because the identification of the California Republican Party with the tax revolt has motivated hundreds of thousands of grass roots anti-tax extremists to work tirelessly — walking precincts, making phone calls, addressing envelopes, and mobilizing home owners and community groups — on behalf of the Republican Party and to get out the vote for Republicans candidates.
Now all that is threatened by two guys named John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou with very loud microphones who are appalled at the tax increases included in the budget deal between Governor Schwarzenegger and the state legislature.
Their radio program — The John and Ken Show on Los Angeles’ conservative KFI AM-640 – is the most listened to local talk radio program in the United States.
And it has declared total war on the leadership of the California Republican Party, which it blames for the budget’s increases in taxes.
Since the budget deal, for four prime-time hours every day, John and Ken have relentlessly blasted California’s Republican leadership as traitors to the anti-tax movement and the people of California.
They’ve put pictures on their website of Schwarzenegger and the leaders of the California Republican Party with their heads on pikes, swords, and toilet plungers.
They’ve called for the recall of Schwarzenegger.
They’ve called for the recall of Republican legislators.
They’ve announced “Revolt, Recall and Repeal” rallies.
And they’ve taken away the leadership of California’s tax revolt from Republican Party allies Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform, and The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
They are about to destroy the California Republican Party.
Democrats should be thrilled.
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