I’ve been reading about these really lame political attacks by Republicans lately. What the fuck is wrong with these people? We’ve got whackjob Count Chocola trying to get Dems to denounce MoveOn.org; which primarily serves to bring attention to MoveOn’s attack on the Count. We’ve got national Republicans attacking a Dem for accepting five hundred bucks from one of the disgraced Keating Five Senators; despite the fact that the ever honorable John McCain was another of those disgraced Senators. We’ve even got total nutbag Curt Weldon attacking a Dem for having his young daughter’s tumor treated at the wrong fucking hospital. What the hell is the matter with these people? I’m not even complaining about the audacity of these attacks. That comes with the territory. I mean, they wouldn’t be Republicans if they weren’t douche bags. But I’m talking about how totally weak and embarrassing these attacks are, to the point that they actually backfire and put the accusers on the defensive. These aren’t the attacks that got them the Whitehouse and control of Congress. These are the kind of attacks that keep them up late at night, long after they’ve lost the election. Needless to say, this isn’t Rove at his best.
But I couldn’t think of what the hell got into them to make them suddenly suck at this so much, and then it came back to me: These dummies don’t have any other choice. Too often, we fall for the myth that our Republican attackers would be just as vicious and effective no matter what the attack is or how valid it is. But that’s simply not the case. Some attacks are better than others. But our problem was that things were just aligned better for the Republican position, rhetorically anyway. People might like our positions better, but the GOP is usually better positioned to win arguments. That’s what they’re good at and is their number one priority. But now they’ve lost all that, thanks to the inevitable fall of Bush and all things Republican. No matter how bad things were for them or how incompetent or corrupt they were, they could always rely on Bush’s popularity and Rove’s attack plans to carry them through. (And yes, all Republican politicians are either incompetent, corrupt, or both (ala, the Dukestir).)
But all that’s over now and these dopes are stuck trying to figure out how to win on their own. There is no grand national strategy that the Republicans can continue to bludgeon us with. There’s no more “I’m with Bush” ticket. Iraq is a disgrace. National Security is a joke. The Medicare Drug Plan was hated, bloated, and expensive. Even taxcuts don’t sound quite so good anymore. It’s every man for himself, these days. And this is the way things have to be. In the end, the Republicans are just wrong and they’ll continue to shoot themselves in the foot every time.
The Republican Problem
But this isn’t some fluke of our current batch of Republicans. This goes to the core of Republicanism itself. This is a basic design flaw with their entire system, because overall, the policies they want to institute aren’t the ones that the voters want. The essence of Republicanism is a con-game against society; the few exploiting the many. That’s what it’s all about. But unfortunately, the ideal model they have in mind is actually a third-world nation, and they don’t even know it. They want a dictator. They want top-down authority. They want a rigid class system based on economic power, which is based on the rigid class system. To them, the enemy is shared power. They want it all for themselves. And that is the exact antithesis of democracy and goes against the very reasons why America is the best.
Perhaps they believe that America’s greatness is due to their own actions or maybe they really do believe that America is so successful because their god just likes us better. But the better answer is that it’s the shared power itself that gives us our key advantage (among other important things). People are just more willing to make things work and do a better job if they believe they’ll be getting something good out of it. Even poor working-class folks support a strong capitalist system that works against them, solely based upon their dreams of some day being rich themselves and benefiting from it. And the less power and control people have, the more they’ll hate life and the less things will work. And that’s exactly where the Republicanism leads us.
In the short term, Republicans have harnessed that powerlessness for their own advantage (particularly with the terrorism thing, for which they want to be the only answer); but even that can’t last. Eventually, even the Republican base will want to reap the benefits of the Republican revolution, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now. They were only willing to sacrifice for Bush when they thought they’d eventually be gaining bigtime; and now that they’re ready to collect their reward and greater power, they’re finding that it’s just not there for them. The Republican Party gained more power, but the typical Republican has less. And the more obvious that becomes, the less power the Republicans will have to wield. Even Congress itself has only been playing opossum because they believed they’d get more by being Whitehouse stooges; but as Bush’s powers dwindle, they’re finding themselves needing to grab some of the power for themselves. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t find this soon enough.
But worse for Republicans is that their “Screw em all” attitude isn’t really very conducive to winning elections, so they have to resort to lame-brained fundraising schemes, faux populism, and outright deception. Even the pork-barrel spending that annoys much of their fiscal conservative base is necessary to get Congressmen to vote for bills which are otherwise against their better interests. The corruption they engaged in that got them into so much trouble was exactly what they needed to do to be elected and enact their agenda. This wasn’t a fluke of personality. These were all requirements of the Republican system. That’s what it’s all about.
Sure, DeLay didn’t need a golfing jaunt to Scotland and the Dukestir didn’t need to live on a lobbyist’s yacht; but to them, that was all part of their agenda. Republicans believe in taking what they can get, and these guys were just following the dictates of their belief system. These were the natural perks for a job well done. But as for the other stuff, like budget busting taxcuts, reluctance to cut spending, and WMD lies; these are all necessities. To have been honest would have meant defeat.
And even the Iraq debacle was destined to go badly, due to Republicanism. Of course they’d hire corrupt contractors and “misplace” billions of dollars. Of course they’d hire ideologues with more zeal than intelligence. Of course they’d be heavy-handed and piss-off potential allies. Of course they’d ignore the facts on the ground and believe that they can shape Iraq and Iraqis like Play-Doh. This is all par for the course. This is what being Republican means. It’s about always getting the free lunch. It’s about manipulating everyone, knowing that nobody else is capable of manipulation or guile. It’s about ignoring unpleasant things and knowing that they’ll eventually just go away. There are no problems that can’t be dismissed as propaganda, when you’re a Republican.
And so should it surprise us that Republicanism appeals to so many people? Who doesn’t want the freedom to do whatever they want; while restricting everyone else? Who doesn’t want to live in a fantasyworld where all your problems are somebody else’s fault and yet you still get to attack others for lacking personal responsibility? Who doesn’t want an excuse to treat others poorly, while blaming the victim for the poor treatment? To paraphrase a cliché, being Republican means never needing to be forgiven.
And is it any wonder that many Christians are attracted to this system? In some ways, it’s little more than a thinly veiled application of the whole belief-prayer system they already believe in. Think happy thoughts and you’ll get happy things. Maybe that’s also why Republicans have such a hard time getting a lock on the Catholic vote. There can be no free lunch when you’re already born guilty. Also fitting is that Catholics believe that they have to do good things to obtain their heavenly reward; whereas Protestants believe that they just have to think the right thoughts. And that totally plays into the Republican’s egocentric view of life. But eventually, the piper has to be paid; and unlike God, Republicans don’t have the advantage of delaying their reward until the afterlife. No, their piper bill is way overdue and is about to be sent into collections.
Bad or Worse
So none of this is out of the blue or unexpected. It was just a matter of time until everything caught up with them. And now everything is, and they’re totally screwed. They know they’re supposed to attack, but attack what? They can’t still keep beating the patriotism scam, and even the religion scam is running out of steam (that’s not to say that religion is a scam, per se; only that the Republican use of religion is most certainly a scam). They’re out of rhetoric and have fallen victim to one of democracy’s big advantages: There’s always another election. You can only scam people for so long before everything comes back around again.
So they’re left to their own devices in individual campaigns, and they have no idea of how to do it. But even that’s an expected outcome of Republicanism. Perhaps had they learned how to win office on their own merits and arguments, they would have better trained to do it on their own. But the people the Republicans picked aren’t freethinkers who know how to do their own thing. They’re followers. Rubber-stamping sycophants who were chosen for loyalty and their ability to look good while repeating Rove’s lines and following Bush’s lead. They’re just like the attractive news anchor who can’t talk when the Teleprompter breaks. And now all that’s catching up with them and they’re just figuring that out. They know that they don’t want to resort to Bush’s help, but they don’t know what else to do. This stuff isn’t easy anyway, and now they’re on the defensive.
And in the end, nothing will help. They keep dropping in the polls, and the question isn’t whether they’ll do badly in November, but how badly. Sure, they’ll lose seats in Congress, but the question is whether they’ll lose control. Their best bet right now would be to somehow move the election to May and hope for the best. Time is against them, and the longer things go on, the worse they’ll do. But that’s not a good answer either. But that’s the whole point. The reason Republicans have been left with no good arguments or attacks is the same reason why intelligent, honest people can’t be Republican. They’ve acted as if they had discovered some great new way of winning; but they’ve only ended up repeating all the old mistakes again, and only now have they begun to realize how expensive all of those free lunches really were.