November 3, 2004 22:22 | Political

There are two kinds of republicans

Every single american who voted republican yesterday falls into one of two categories:

Those who know exactly what is going on and support it, vociferously.
Those who haven't got a clue, are picking their bellybuttons and do as they are told.

I truly do not know which is more frightening.

Further, it's as if the democratic party doesn't even exist. It barely even matters. What we see is the two classic codependents of any young fundamentalist right-wing society; the few supremely rich upper-class misanthropists and the many lower-class poor, exploited brainwash victims who supply them with funding (acceleration) and bodies (momentum). The intellectual class, the "liberals", have been marginalized, ridiculed and now finally, shoved out.

The American Dream, turned Nightmare.

There are SO many ways this can turn. Change will come from inside or outside, and it will come. Any american who doesn't see that is deeply deluded, i.e. a republican of lower class.


Of course it's fun to paint things as black-and-white, good-vs-evil. But isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?

The well-organized Republican Noise Machine created divisions in the electorate over the last 40 years by distracting people from voting for their own economic self-interest, in the name of so-called "values" issues. States' rights, abortion, school prayer, guns, etc. etc. Their genius has been to frame the terms of every debate in a certain way as to make it politically impossible to espouse an opposing point of view; and to define their opponents in the public mind.

I think you're painting the electorate in overly simplistic terms: in fact it's the kind of classification that plays right into that divisive strategy. Of course not all rich people are misanthropists and the lower class are not completely brainwashed, but once enough 'big city libruls' say things like that, it engenders the exact resentment, the rejection of intellect, that you decry.

I don't think it's useful to think about it that way because it gives the RNC's divisive strategies, effective as they are, a bit too much credit. It is perfectly possible to turn those strategies on their head, use their own force against them, point them out for what they are in broad daylight. People don't like being tricked, and once the trick is exposed, there will be a backlash.

Remember that nearly exactly half of the voters went Democratic; the salient point is that the Republicans managed to convince undecideds and a good portion of conservative rural Democrats to vote for them. Why? Wedge issues and fear. Instead of pointing out this strategy for what it is, the Dems played 'chase the ball,' exactly as Rove wanted them to. That isn't a conspiracy: it's simply incompetence, I'm afraid to say.

The Democratic party is going to have to do some soul-searching over the next 4 years. It has to define itself, as was stated by other writers, as more than just "not-Republican" or worse, "Republican lite." They gotta reclaim the "L-word," devise their own semantic strategies, reframe the debates in their own way instead of agreeing to compete on a tilted playing field every time.

I have to point out AJ that I have seen this coming for over 15 years (I am just a kid still...) and have always been of the opinion, now vindicated, that america is going down the proverbial tubes. No amount of "taking back the language" will help now (Hi Lakoff!).

Sadly :\

I share the sentiment, but I respectfully disagree. There is a way to do it. Grand Moff Texan, who posts at DailyKos, put the message very clearly in this diary post about how to Get On Message.

Of course, ya gotta look at the bigger picture, key fact being that the world is quickly going to run out of cheap energy, which is a humdinger of a paradigm shift that is going to hit the US, already in deep denial, even harder than usual. This is the real economic answer to 'why are we in the middle east,' not only the opportunistic War on Terra. Cheap energy props up the 'American way of life' which will 'not be compromised' as Bush said.

Funny how in a WWII people put aside their primal Need To Acquire and endured rationing, even contributing raw materials from their own households for the efforts. Today's citizen has been turned into a consumer, a yowling infant that feels entitled to everything and obligated to nothing. This, perhaps, explains a lot about the appeal of the two parties. At root, Republicans want to have satisfied consumers. The Dems want to have involved citizens.

AJ, please take time and go read this: Les valeurs morales des Etats-Unis ne paient pas pour les votes.

And Boris didn't talk about good-vs-evil. You did :) Don't write things that the other has not written. Good-vs-Evil doesn't exist. It's just a way of looking at things (except for marketing).

I'll write about all of the US elections later on. :) but for now I'm heading for my last night on the French Riviera and heading to Normandy tomorrow morning. :)

AJ, you said "Today's citizen has been turned into a consumer, a yowling infant that feels entitled to everything and obligated to nothing."
Right, who turned them into that? And what tool was used to do it? (Hint: it's what you tried to defend last time you came around here... ;)

Hehehe, poking ya. ;)

Momus has a nice write-up.

Merci Karl for the backup. ;)

I just don't think making sweeping statements helps anything move forward, and it seems like a mindset that leaves out some crucial shades of grey. No argument is possible.

Fact 1: Many moderate, internationalist, old-school Eisenhower Republicans that voted across party lines. Including Eisenhower's son, for one.

Fact 2: Plenty of hawkish / cultural conservative Democrats did the same in the opposite direction.

Fact 3: there was more (2) than (1). It was this that tipped the election, but remember, it was still extremely close.

So in my mind, to say there were only two kinds of Republicans is as useful as saying 'you're with us or against us.' There were clearly several kinds of Republicans, and several kinds of Democrats. (Like Zell Miller, for one, and Howard Dean, for another.)

Thomas Frank's "What's The Matter With Kansas?" is a primer on exactly this phenomenon. Theoretically, poor rural whites ought to vote along economic lines with the Democrats, but the Dems post-WWII ignored what used to be their strongest base outside visible minorities, and the Republicans were all too happy to pick up the slack (the so-called 'southern strategy'), further alienating them from the Dem base by playing up the race, religion, gun and 'values' cards.

The article that Karl links to tells half the story: The statistics are significant, but presented without context, the meaning is lost. The untold story is that honest, hardworking folk on both sides have been divided by what narrow values they do not share, instead of united by the broader set of ones they have in common. How cutting Head Start, smashing unions, denying working people affordable insurance, underfunding NCLB, promoting workfare and gutting the financial framework of Social Security can be perceived as 'pro-family' can only be explained by a strategy of deep denial and distraction.

I'm rambling, but couldn't help noticing this comment on the Momus thread that, I think, says a lot of what I wanted to much more eloquently.

I will just say that advertising and marketing, like any art or craft that moves the mind and heart, is like the Force. The same marketing techniques go into MoveOn ads, Swift Boat ads and 'messages from the government of Canada;' It's what you choose to do with those techniques that matters. Otherwise, we can all move to the woods like Ted Kaczynski. The key is not to give in to the 'dark side' of sophistry, but to stay grounded in the objective truth of the Reality-based community :)

"The devil is in the details"