It is the GOP’s war of attrition.
Here’s something that might surprise you.
In the 1964 presidential election, Senator Barry Goldwater received only 6% of the black vote. In the 2012 presidential election, self-styled corporate wizard Mitt Romney received the exact same number, 6% of the black vote.
Call that 6% vote from “African-Americans” or from “people of color,” call it whatever you want, but facts are facts. The Republican Party has a problem appealing to a vast swath of the electorate for two key election positions: the White House and the United States Senate.
Yet, it keeps winning Congressional elections, thus holding on to its ability to retain control of the House of Representatives. The GOP also wins some statewide elections (assemblies, senate chambers, etc.) all because of its ability to gerrymander Congressional districts. In spite of the Democrat’s rout of Romney, some Republicans see hope for them on the horizon, and their plan will continue to be to wear down the Democratic opposition.
Their plan will also continue to be to wear down President Barack Obama and erode his intelligent, common sense plan for the American people. Obama looks to the future. The GOP looks to the past. And wallows in it.
It’s a war of attrition, and the GOP thinks it’s a fight it can win. In terms of policy, this means that for at least two more years, up to the 2014 Congressional elections, the Republicans will wage a guerilla war against most Americans, effectively waging a war against a smart approach to taxation, medical care, the economy, international relations, and immigration reform.
Republicans, led by its racists and sexists, the bigots and bullies that dominate the grass-roots population of their party, will continue to establish roadblocks to providing funding for everything from fixing highways and bridges, to enhancing educational opportunities, and for something as simple and beneficial as hot meals for children and seniors. The Party Of No truly doesn’t care. If a few jetliners crash because there are less air traffic controllers due to the sequestration, the GOP can live with it. If national parks have less services that average Americans enjoy, the GOP can live with it. If the Internal Revenue Service falls behind in sending out tax refunds, the GOP can live with it.
Republicans are happy that Wall Street is booming again, that the Dow and other indexes are soaring. They are happy that corporate profits are up. However, because they hate President Obama, and still want him to fail, they are also thrilled that the unemployment rate seems stuck in neutral. It’s strange that the 7.9% figure confirming how many adults are out-of-work is considered a negative number. Who established benchmark unemployment rates? The reverse means that 92.1% of adults capable of working are employed. Isn’t that a good thing?
Can there ever be such a thing as “full employment?” What marketing con artist coined that term? And what is the number of working adults that will make everyone happy? Six percent? Five percent? Four percent? Are these realistic goals considering how many jobs are being lost to technological advances? Additionally, job retraining is another victim of the GOP’s war on workers.
What the Republicans are really saying is that the 7.9% figure means the country is giving away too much damn money in unemployment and food benefits to lazy people unwilling to find work. Of course, if the Republican corporate bosses of America would hire a few people, it might help the nation.
Are they refusing to hire even a couple of people because it would assist President Obama? I’m just asking. If they considered bringing some jobs back to America, would that be a bad thing because it would help the President? Again, just asking.
Is treason giving secrets to an enemy, or is it also refusing to hire a couple of people to aid the economy? Did you know that Americans spend an average of $700 per person on gifts for family and friends that are made in foreign countries each year? If they spent only $64 of that $700 on American-made products, it would add 200,000 jobs. Think about that for a while. And then ask yourself if Republican corporate chieftains would actually hire anyone.
The Republicans are advocating a classic “let them eat cake” mentality, and led by John Boehner, the orange-skinned, cigarette-smoking, foul-mouthed ostrich of American politics, the Republicans will continue to hold America hostage.
Their hatred of the notion that a person of color is in the White House runs so deep, is so abiding, that Boehner and his greedy cronies are perfectly willing to play to the haters and in the process destroy the country so -- they believe -- the American citizenry will come running and screaming back into their arms to certify their domination in the House and give them control of the Senate in 2014, and then carry them on their shoulders into the White House in 2016.
The GOP is scrambling all over itself desperately trying to re-brand the party’s image. It’s a Madison Avenue approach, a “Mad Men” take on how to sell a bill of goods without actually reevaluating the party’s policies. Republicans have already begun a rush to bring all the “little brown ones” under their wings. They aren’t quite ready to bring the “big black ones” into their tent, but Hispanics better get ready for an adoration campaign the likes of which they’ve never seen.
The real world calls the GOP lust for Latin love a monstrous act pandering, but the Republicans call it their future. To paraphrase a lyric from “West Side Story: If you “want to be in America,” Boehner, Karl Rove, Bobby Jindal, Eric Cantor and myriad others in the party have a plan for you. “You” won’t have much say about the plan. “You” won’t make any policy changes or get to affect social issues, but you will get a great big hug from smelly, orange Uncle John Boehner.
Regarding “the little brown ones,” well that’s not just column-writing hyperbole. In 1988, when he was running for president, vice-president George H. W. Bush actually said this when pointing out his Mexican-American grandchildren: “These are Jebby’s kids from Florida, the little brown ones.”
Of course, Jebby is Jeb Bush, King George The First’s son and King George The Second’s brother. The three “little brown ones” being referenced are the children of Jeb and his Mexican-born wife, Columba.
At the time, Al Belmontez, vice president of one of the Los Angeles labor chapters of the Mexican-American Political Association, believed that Bush’s remark highlighted insensitivity. Belmontez commented: “Just saying that means he knows they’re different. He didn’t say, ‘Those are my grandchildren.’ He didn’t just refer to the kids by their names. That just shows that he’s insensitive.”
For his part, Ronald Reagan’s Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, King George The First’s campaign chairman, reminded reporters that “The vice president is extremely proud of the fact that his grandchildren are 50% Hispanic.”
Not sure what Baker would have said if the “little brown ones” were more than 50% Hispanic. Needless perhaps to write, having “little brown ones” in the family fits in nicely with Republican plans to take back the White House in 2016. The kids, now adults, can be paraded around like tokens of appealing success in a craven desire for votes.
Look here, the GOP will admonish, we’ve got little brown people in our party, too. And look how well-behaved, and well-educated, and well-dressed these children of millionaires have grown up to be. You, too, can live the American dream. Only, I doubt Republicans leaders will stress the “millionaires” part. They may even hope to dress them up in serapes and sombreros.
As for Jeb, well, he’s flirting with running for president in 2016. If that doesn’t give pause to the American people, let alone the rest of the world, then nothing will. By the time of the 2016 presidential election, Boehner and his boys will have decimated the economy of the country through their reluctance to compromise and their recalcitrant roadblocks to everything that helps the middle- and lower-classes.
Can you picture it? Jebby standing in front of The Alamo announcing his run for president. Republicans in Congress still attempting to dismantle Social Security, Medicare, and Voting Rights. The American people in more breadlines than during the Great Depression. And Jeb’s team eagerly looking at a globe on their iPhones and wondering which desert nation can be blamed for something or other and can be invaded.
Meanwhile, the hard right of the Republican Party (especially those for whom the lunatic fringe Tea Party means salvation) will have either solidified its control of the GOP or have faded into oblivion. What wins that internal war? Money. Money. Money. It all comes down to cash, lots of it.
The doddering Koch Brothers may still be around and their big bucks will probably flow to Rove, who still mesmerizes what some people call “Republican centrists.” Rove may be a bloated buffoon to the far right Tea Party cadres -- they hate him harder than you can imagine -- but he’s still a smirking Cheshire Cat strategist with the potential to pull a rabbit out of his hat and give the GOP a prize-winning stallion for 2016. But don’t expect too many out-of-control and self-defeating primary debates on that specific march to the White House. No more 2012-style debate craziness.
During all of this, the Tea Party cadre will still be attempting to marginalize a black president.
It will also still be hurtling head-long over a cliff to roll back marriage equality and hundreds of other concepts they view as un-Patriotic. And, it will still be insisting on sending back from wherever they came every Spanish-speaking non-white tending their lawns and washing their restaurant dishes. Boehner, and his racist crowd, will continue to play footsie with the Tea Party, but should he get spanked, he’ll just go to the tanning salon, take a drag on a cigarette, and cry like a baby for forgiveness.
If the Tea Party Republicans were organized, they would have given Boehner his walking papers as Speaker Of The House. But for some reason, the Tea Party lacks the wherewithal, or perhaps the backbone, to recognize that to be a potent force it has to take chances.
They keep listening to less-Tea Partyish Republicans who whisper “later, later, later” in their ears. Thus, week after week, month after month, year after year, the Tea Party gets co-opted by the bag men with their hordes of cash and promises of a brighter future. The mainstream Republicans dangle shiny little objects in front of the Tea Party crowd and the tea baggers withdraw, skulk back to their dens and polish their assault rifles for the coming revolution.
The Tea Party kooks who do speak out say all the wrong things: Rape is God’s will because God is everywhere. Gay marriage will unravel regular Republican marriage. And if the starving poor have free soup, one day they’re going to want dessert, too.
The Tea Party is a strange hybrid of jingoism, pseudo-patriotism and crankiness. They come across as wannabe Colonists who misunderstand exactly what the Federal government does. There are a lot of quotations from smart American thinkers such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison about the risks of too much unbridled patriotism. However, with their selective take on reading and interpretation, the tea baggers worship these men but ignore their warnings about overdoing the patriotic shuffle. Not dissimilar to the way Boehner ignores the warning label on his cigarette packs. The GOP should become the HOP, the Hypocritical Old Party.
One stunning example of Tea Party hypocrisy is its relationship with Israel. Many in the Republican Party, as well on the right, including the reactionary far right and the fringe, are slavishly devoted to Israel. The corporate-controlled media in the United States hides from the American people a lot of facts about what Israel is doing on the West Bank. For a telling and eye-opening experience, see the Academy Award-nominated documentary “5 Broken Cameras,” which details the aggressively hostile treatment by Israel of Palestinians on a day-to-day basis. Land that is not in Israel, land that has been farmed on by Palestinians for centuries is stolen. Not taken. Not seized. Stolen. And uprooting the olive trees that provide income for many families is the least of Israel’s destructive practices. See the film. If, that is, corporate America allows it to be released across the country.
However, in a dichotomy that is appalling for its lunacy, many Republicans, especially Tea Party thugs, hate Jews. Oh, not to their faces. They just talk negatively about them behind their back, slurring Jews with a wink wink and a nudge nudge. Some hate Jews as individuals. Some hate them as a religion. And for some, Jews are hated as a race. One of the more twisted prejudices of right wing society is its loathing of Jewish people. To them, Jews are moneygrubbers, cheap, insular, and eat weird food like gefilte fish and matzo balls.
Picture the reaction of the hidebound southern Tea Party stalwart who saw gefilte fish for sale at his local Walmart, that chain being the Tiffany’s for Tea Party shopping habits. What’s equally weird about the Tea Party and its marriage to Walmart is that it doesn’t recognize that the company is an example of everything they claim to hate about the Federal government. Walmart is big, but it offers limited, poor quality choices. It’s a corporate Death Star destroying American lives with its own set of guidelines, the Walmart Constitution For The United States. Yet the Tea Party fails to see the connection and the attendant hypocrisy. It’s like the elderly Tea Party folks who demanded that the Federal government stop funding medical care and had to be told that their own health care was, in effect, federally-funded.
It’s a given that a number of Republican leaders don’t think conceptually. They see too much analysis as a Commie conspiracy. They love traveling to Europe, but despise Socialism, which is what Europe is all about, especially Democratic Socialism. Republicans don’t stop to ask themselves why they aren’t stepping over the sick and dying in the streets of Rome, London, Paris, Berlin, or Athens. They’ve been led to believe that government-run health care is bad for the masses. However, the streets are not littered with bodies.
Unlike American streets, which are littered with the bodies of gunshot victims.
The GOP is leery of analysis, which they think is malarkey similar to what the Jewish Sigmund Freud practiced. Truth be told, deeper analysis might actually help the Republican Party.
However, it’s doubtful that deeper analysis will be forthcoming. The sequester is part of the war of attrition. In clearest terms, there’s no other way to state it except this way: The Republican Party has turned its back on its own founding principles, and it has stabbed the American people in their collective backs. The party of abolition has become the party of hostility for many, and a token pat on the head for some.
This is all because wildly wealthy individuals want to get even wealthier. And mostly because a person of color is in the White House.
If honesty prevailed amongst Republicans, they would admit it and move on from there. But of course, they couldn’t possibly say anything remotely close to an admission of their true guiding focus. Not while there are still people to oppress, and not while there’s a Senate and a White House to win.
For decades, through clenched teeth, the country club elite has tried to dismantle the social legacy of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is still fighting that war. Today, it’s also battling the civil rights legacy of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Republicans love wars. Well, they love to start them, but they don’t quite know how to finish them.
Here’s something that should jolt the GOP into a new awareness. They have not won the White House in purely practical political terms since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan was re-elected over Democrat Walter Mondale. Yes, Republicans have won three elections, but it’s important to understand what I mean by “purely practical political terms.”
The smarter, hipper, younger, fresher, more people-oriented, more socially relevant Democratic Party won outright in 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012.
Democrats lost the winnable election of 1988, which resulted in George H. W. Bush making it through the White House gates due to the woeful and misguided Democratic candidacy of Michael Dukakis. It was the NOBODY CARES election. The election in which only 50.2% of eligible U.S. citizens voted. In other words, a better Democratic candidate would have won. Handily. Vice-president Bush was a weak candidate, made weaker by President Reagan’s failures and scandals. It was the Democrat’s year and they blew it.
The election of 2000 was not decided by voters. It was decided by the over-reaching United States Supreme Court. 54.2% of eligible voters cast their ballot. Vice-president Al Gore won the election in terms of votes, but lost in the Electoral College after the Supreme Court gave the state of Florida to George W. Bush. For his part, Gore and his lawyers wimped-out. They should never have tossed in the legal towel. Every Florida vote should have been recounted. When someone tells you your vote doesn’t matter, remind them about all the young men and women who died in the sands of Iraq because Bush had serious father and masculinity issues. It was a war worthy of Shakespeare. Non-existent weapons of mass destruction were the least of it.
President Bush The Younger’s re-election in 2004 was not the result of purely practical politics, but probably the result of ennui.
When the history of that specific campaign is written, it will analyze the reasons why a lot of American voters stayed home and didn’t vote. Were they just bogged down by two wars, but unwilling to do anything about it? Were they weary of a slumbering man in the White House, but too bored to effect change? Were they a just a little too contented? A contented feeling that would be ripped asunder with the economic crash to come. Even if you give the GOP 2004 on points, its White House election record is not good, nor is it promising.
In this day and age, pandering to a subset of voters is not going to win the White House. The digital soap box will prevent that from happening.
A look at the election maps of 2004 and 2012 tells the story. The Democrats have made deep inroads into Republican territory. Blue is slowly overtaking red. There has been a concrete shift in the balance of electoral power. And it’s not just “the little brown ones.” Those two maps show an entire new tonality, an entire new temperature reading of the American mood and the American electorate.
It will take a lot more than vast amounts of campaign money and Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or Bobby Jindal to retake the White House. It will take a huge re-awakening by the vanguard of Republicanism, those strident men and women in the House Of Representatives. It’s up to Republicans in Congress to help their party. They are hurting it badly. The American people see them as the stumbling block to economic recovery. And, more dangerous for the GOP, it sees them acting as a stumbling block on purpose. Because they can. It sees them acting not only out of petty politics, but also, and much worse, out of hatred.
The American people want action, not sequester. The Republicans are looking at future elections as battles to regain power. At some point during its war of attrition, the GOP is going to run out of soldiers.
Parker Whitley is a free-lance writer and political junkie, who enjoys commenting on culture and the world of politics. Parker resides in Buffalo and Paris.