So How Does the Big Mule GOP Stay in Power?
I'm borrowing this from MSNBC's Daryl Cagle's Professional Cartoonist Index, one of my favorite sources for some time.
The actual artist is Richard Crowson of The Wichita Eagle, Kansas. Kansas as in "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."? The heart of the Heartland? Indeed so it appears. Actually, Kansas immediately came to mind when I saw the image. This is because I've read Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas : How Conservatives Won the Heartland of America"
I'm not sure what Mr. Crowson has in mind with the critter he has harnessed up and pulling the GOP but he's labeled the equine as "Conservatives". If we accept the animal doing the pulling as at least Donkeyesque then I'm certainly able to work with that, mostly from Mr. Frank's work plus that of Steve Jarding and Dave "Mudcat" Saunders in their South-oriented "Foxes in the Henhouse" as well.
Here's how I deconstruct the cartoon. Big fat traditional GOP business and monied class has no prayer of getting elected if people were aware of how Washington (or Montgomery or Atlanta or ...) truly worked. Numbers of working class Americans are increasingly not being served by the GOP, and some "centrist" Democrats as well.
Furthermore, some folks from the heartland are often feeling threatened by economics and change and ... Richard 's Hofstader's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics", published the year before I was born, has helped me in getting a handle on this theory that extremist could and would exploit fear here. This has often worked in our society, scared and anti-intellectual being our default settings perhaps, according to this top-drawer historian. (Hofstader was thinking about radicals like Goldwater Republicans and The John Birch Society ... Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind duo was a Bircher by the way... using the fear of Communism and the like to gain power. I think his ideas certainly apply to the modern blend of social and paleo conservatives making up the base of the GOP these days. Throw in race and darned if the last forty years haven't been a wild ride on the Paranoid Pony!)
Using often emotional tactics and "wedge issues", bolstered by an impressive infrastructure started way back in the early 1970s, Big Mule Republicans have gained and retained power with this bait and switch approach. I'll let Professor Alterman and Paul McLeary explain the structures in more detail. Thomas Frank wrote something like "Vote for The Culture of Life and get what benefits the Country Club Capitalist Class."
When the going gets tough, the tough get divisive? Karl Rove and many of the Atwater sytle GOP operatives learned to use division of the electorate to get 50% plus 1. "Just win baby!" Like deploying the National Guard to the southern border to soothe the paleo-conservatives, there can be no doubt that this Marriage Protection Amendment foolishness is for rallying the evangelical base this November. Social Conservatives helped old Dubyah out in 2004 so why not go to the well one more time?
A bonus is that this legislation facade is distracting some of the American public from Iraq, the economy, twenty five years of a growing gap between the haves and have nots, scandals from Abramoff to Libby to DeLay to ..., climate change, Katrina chaos, energy woes, cronyism, budget deficits, torture, domestic spying, pulling most troops from Afghanistan to go a neo-con crusade, allowing North Korea and Iraq to go bolder as we are bogged down in Iraq, corporate scandals, environmental troubles, dreadful results of No Child Left Behind, etc. Before I leave this line of reasoning, please notice the blinders on the bridle. "Blinded by the Right" can be our theme music. Regrets to Manfred Mann, whom I once did a real estate closing with by the way.
I used to talk to my students about "Two ways to get what you want. One's a carrot and the other is the stick." What is the stick? Right now it seems the stick approach is to flair the fear. Bu$hCo needs to remain in control of both houses. See if one just one falls into control of the Democrats then real investigatation might result. Legislation might then flow from the Democrats instead of being bottled up by the Majority Party. The Rove approach is present in ... "If you think we suck then think what might happen if those lefty Democrats get power!" They'll hold hearings or even try to impeach "Our Leader". Boys will be marrying boys! Taxes will go through the roof! They'll take your property to build abortion clinics! They'll make us all learn Spanish even though they really want us to learn French! They'll not bring bin Laden to justice ... er ... Well they'll take ten years when we've only been at this for five. They'll have us fighting the terrorist here while Our Leader has been fighting them there. And my favorite, stright from Bu$h's Brain Karl Rove is of course "They'll 'cut and run' in the Global War on Terror!" Expect more "Orange Alerts" this fall folks!
Simple approach for simple people? Noise and emotion? Divide and conquer? Peace ... or War!