GOP is now mostly about how to spell "democratic" -- Big D versus small d | WisCommunity

GOP is now mostly about how to spell "democratic" -- Big D versus small d

Given the radical initiatives being offered up by Republicans in many so-called red states and in D.C., it has now become easy to reduce the GOP's motive and strategy to a single sentence:

Republicans are anti-Democratic, so they've increasingly become anti-democratic.

Yes, it's democracy with a capital D that matters to the GOP at a fundamental survival level, and to deal with it, the party needs to dimiinish democracy with a small D. Here's what we mean:

As the past decade has shown, the Republican Party nationally and at the state level has encountered an ever-more difficult electoral landscape. Minorities are gaining in the US population and they tend to vote against the GOP. Meanwhile, GOP policies -- re-jiggered in the Nixon era, engineered big time in the Reagan era and pursued with a vengeance since then -- have become increasingly unpopular among middle-class voters.

What's that, you say? How can the above be true if Republicans remain so obviously competitive, winning more than their share of presidential and gubernatorial and legislative races and judicial races?

Half a decade ago, Democratic pollster Rudy Texiera predicted the "rising donkey" of a new Democratic Party majority, based on trends in public opinion. It hasn't obviously happened yet, for reasons we'll get to. But his reasoning was driven by hard science. If you ask voters what they believe in; they tend to support progressive ideas espoused by Democrats, or at least more by Democrats than anyone else.

But this trend has been forestalled by a desperate GOP holding action. The party is retreating from the battlefield but hanging onto power through heavy use of rhetorical cluster bombing, leaving a wasteland of democracy in its wake. The party can't win on the issues, if those issues are well understood and illumiinated in elections, by the news media and opinion leaders. So the party has taken a largely content-free approach to elections and mounts campaigns that actually damage the republic, in the cause of furthering its own future a bit longer. In the famous phrase from the Vietnam era, paraphrased, they had to destroy the democracy in order to save themselves.

First, it engages in broad-brush flourishes and not meaningful policy pronouncement. The GOP, since the Nixon era, has been the PR party, driven by sound bites and messaging and snarky rhetoric. Hence the endless questions about Barack Obama's birth certificate and continuing attacks on minorities and the underprivileged in general. Welfare Cadillac? Hell, in GOPspeak, a citizen is only worth as much as he or she earns.

Second, the party -- in full realization that its sleight of hand campaign techniques can't last forever -- has tried to constrain the opposition by rigging a system that is already heavily rigged in its favor. Despite the GOP's vast support network of conservative think tanks, media outlets, business interest groups and more, it's all proving to be insufficient. Else, how to explain Obama?

And so the party has embarked on massive efforts to defrock contrarian voters by making it harder if not impossible for them to register to vote, and even to vote -- hence the various "Voter ID" (better called vote suppression) measures in an increasing number of states.

Hence the effort to dumb down our schools some more, because better educated citizens tend to vote Democratic.

Hence efforts to remove the political base of Democrats by finally killing off labor unions and not-for-profits like Planned Parenthood and ACORN.

Hence efforts to make it almost impossible for lower income citizens to get to the polls or anywhere else by destroying public transit systems. Ricardo Pimentel in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ably explains this effort in today's column, noting that Scott Walker and the state GOP now sees bus service as "welfare" (see link below). Breathtaking, really, but logical from the GOP tactical viewpoint.

To stay in the game, Republicans have, in short, been forced to change the rules, and that means becoming anti-Democratic. Only an elitest society, made even more elitest, can support the modern GOP ideology.  Democrats stand in its way, so democracy has to disappear. And that's democracy -- and capitalism -- with a small D.

Pimentel's column:


April 27, 2011 - 10:50am