JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.
THE MENDACITY OF REPUBLICAN POLITICS:
THE GOP STRATEGY FOR WINNING THE WHITE HOUSE
By Jack Random
“What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?”
Big Daddy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
If it were possible to come to America without any knowledge of its politics or culture, like Alexis de Tocqueville in another age, and your first exposure was the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, you would have an impression that is as far from the truth as Anchorage is from Manhattan.
Among the milieu of misconceptions you would believe that the Republicans are the party of the working people, the party of Medicare and Social Security, the party that cares for the poor, the elderly and destitute, the party that protects the rights of women and immigrants, the party that welcomes all races and creeds with open arms, and the party that can be counted on to save the American auto industry.
You would think that our military has remained idle too long, that we are not a nation weighed down by the long war in Afghanistan, but a nation that should go to war in Syria, Somalia, Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan and anywhere in the world where governments do not bend to our will. You would think that we are still engaged in a cold war with China and Russia.
You would think the Republicans are the party that would stand up against job exportation, low wages and benefits, and unfair trade policies. You would think they stood firmly behind labor.
None of these assumptions would hold a kernel of truth. They are in fact close to the opposite of true but politics is politics.
Any honest Republican would tell you that theirs is the party of free enterprise, free trade, small government, low taxes, balanced budgets and individual liberty. Whether the party has lived up to its ideals is another matter (on deficits, small government and balanced budgets they decidedly have not); these are the ideals at the core of the party.
Any honest Republican would tell you that they are the party opposed to labor. They are the party of business and they side with corporate interests against working people on every issue from trade policy (shipping jobs to nations with the cheapest labor force) to the minimum wage. The Grand Old Party is the mortal enemy of organized labor, having waged open and aggressive war against unions and the right to organize in every field of private and public employment.
The Republican Party fundamentally does not believe in Medicare or Social Security or any other government program to feed the hungry or house the poor. They believe in starving the beast, which is their way of saying eviscerating the social safety net.
Any honest Republican would tell you that if you are interested in the rights of women, the rights of minorities or the rights of immigrants, they are not your party. To suggest that they are still the party of Lincoln is to ignore the history of the Civil Rights movement and the demise of the Dixie Democrats. The modern Republican Party is the party of the South.
These are the solemn truths of the GOP that went largely unspoken in Tampa, Florida. What then was this four-day festival of partisan glorification all about?
It is true that most if not all political parties and candidates will bend the truth and engage in subterfuge or deception if they believe it will work to their advantage. Dick Nixon won an election on a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War and the last Republican president whose name was never uttered at his party’s national convention, promised to avoid nation-building and the kind of foreign entanglements that lead to it.
Now Mitt Romney wants to help the poor, the homeless and the oppressed.
The question arises: Do the Republicans actually believe they can piece together a majority of the electorate from the gullible and clueless or is there some other strategy at work here?
From my political perspective, the Republican electorate breaks down like this:
The Tea Party Republicans are entrenched and motivated by irrational fear and loathing of President Obama. They comprise about 25% of the electorate and they can safely be taken for granted. This convention was not for them.
Another 5-10% of the electorate is the wealthiest of Americans. They are Mitt Romney’s peers and they will vote for him because they believe (with ample cause) that it is in their personal interest (an assumption that breaks down if the economy crashes as it did under Bush). They need no assurances and this convention was not for them.
Another 5-10% of Americans will vote Republican out of habit. It is the party of their parents and grandparents, the party of John Wayne (read: Clint Eastwood) and Ronald Reagan whose portraits were once displayed alongside a blond, blue-eyed Jesus over the fireplace. This convention was not for them.
Add it all up and the Republican coalition is still insufficient to win the election. The decisive 5-10% of active voters must be peeled away from those who are clearly not represented by this Republican Party, including women, minorities and working people whose politics are not governed by wealth or religion.
These are the people who elect presidents. They are not entrenched. Most of them voted for Obama in the last presidential election and swung to the Republicans in the midterm. By and large, they are not pleased with what the Tea Party did with the power they gave them. They have no overriding interest in the social-religious agenda. They are not anti-labor. They are not anti-immigrant. They are certainly not against birth control. In 2010 they wanted a change in economic fortune and they did not receive it from the representatives, governors and legislators they elected.
This Republican National Convention was for them.
To persuade them to vote Republican again they need assurances that this is not the same party they elected in the midterms. They need reasons they can understand why they are a better option than Obama and the Democrats. They need to believe that placing the Republicans in the White House would not result in the same catastrophe that George W. Bush visited on the American people in two terms of office. They need to believe that this is not the same party that caused our economic breakdown.
With the exception of John McCain, who brought the Neocon nightmare back in stark and vivid detail, this convention was the soft side of Republican politics. That it was entirely fiction hardly matters. It is the best hope of a party with a poor track record and a candidate so bland and without conviction that virtually no one on either side of the political divide likes or believes him.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, GLOBAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM.