TWEEDLEDEE AND TWEEDLEDUMBER
Over at Tiny Cat Pants, Aunt B. has a couple of posts wherein she criticizes Bill Hobbs (Tennessee GOP’s communications director). I suggest you read the two posts first, then come back.
B., I have to disagree with your assertion about the character of the GOP’s appeal to their base:
That’s always been their winning message–”Leave us alone to do our own thing and we’ll make America strong.”
That may be the polite message the Republicans put on all their stationery, but it is a thin veil for the politics of fear, xenophobia, and social subterfuge that have brought them to dominance over the last four decades. What Hobbs is doing might look clumsy and self-defeating, and most Republican voters might not openly embrace his expressions, but that isn’t the point.
As you said yourself in the first post, B:
I mean, here we are living in a state in which the Democratic party is a bunch of corrupt, out-of-touch nimrods and the best the Republicans can do to counteract that is to position themselves as the party of mean old people who hate everybody.
This isn’t unique to Tennessee. Even on the foreign policy angle, which Hobbs reduces to playground sophistication, the Democratic candidates have enabled the Republicans’ approach by joining in the demonization of and saber-rattling toward foreign entities like Hamas, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. I daresay both Republicans and Democrats get away with this because too many of us learn our history through the bipartisan filter of American exceptionalism. Worse yet, Republicans have been able to run roughshod over the Democrats on domestic issues because the Dems (especially since the Clinton administration) have been trying to elbow the Republicans aside at the big money table. With both parties selling out the majority of U.S. citizens on economic issues, the Republicans were able to step in and sell themselves using divisive social and cultural tactics. Thomas Frank wrote a very thought-provoking book a few years ago that dealt with this dynamic, and this interview gives a good summary of his argument.
While it is reasonable to argue that the Republicans have done far worse than Democrats could have done at managing the country, it is also reasonable to argue that nearly every Bush excess of the last seven years has been little more than either a difference of degree or a continuation from the behavior of the Clinton administration. For example, the Bushies’ disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq followed eight years of catastrophic sanctions and bombing by Clinton. The duplicity of the Clinton administration’s behavior toward Iraq set the table for what followed. The Bush FCC’s attempt to hand the whole store to the telecoms and the media conglomerates followed eight years of similar corporate-friendly policies under Clinton.
What all this means is that the Republicans don’t have to appeal to decency or even (what was formerly known as) common sense in Tennessee or any other state. In fact, as Digby reckons, in the long run they may be better off not winning White House in November. If my analysis is close to the mark, an Obama presidency will not represent a fundamental change in our foreign or domestic policy (Arthur Silber would back me up on this). It will mean, at best, less reckless management of our empire abroad and more competent management of our domestic affairs (Republican congressional obstructionism and Democratic congressional enabling notwithstanding). The underlying principles that are driving our erstwhile republic into the septic tank will not be challenged with anything more than weightless rhetoric. The erosion of the middle class will continue; unfettered, impune corporate dominance will not be challenged; our national infrastructure and energy policy will not be significantly altered. Furthermore, don’t expect the physical, economic, and legal infrastructure of our burgeoning police state to be decried and dismantled under Obama. And while an Obama administration might not appoint a vile, flamboyant reactionary like Scalia to the Supreme Court, the almost complete lack of opposition his party showed to the appointments of right-wing utensils Roberts and Alito doesn’t bode well for what will fill any vacancy that may arise in the next four to eight years.
So even if the “hope” and “change” that Obama is selling is enough to get him past the racism at our country’s heart, the McCain jones harbored by our corporate media, and the machinations of the Diebold Mafia, his victory ain’t going to do the country any lasting good. An Obama presidency will give us more Clintonian cultural glad-handing while scuttling the vestiges of our republican illusions through more imperial blundering and neoliberal economic excess. If we want an honest shot at real change, then we have to vote for it. Obama is offering nothing worth voting for, and I won’t waste my vote by casting it against McCain.
Give me McKinney, Nader, or bust.