Friday, March 21, 2008

Divide and Conquer

When the Republicans win national elections, they do it by pulling together a truly bizarre assortment of voters. It includes:

  • Conservative Southerners, many of them virulently anti-gay and anti-feminist, some racist and anti-Semitic, who believe the Republicans will "defend traditional values."
  • Wall Street fat cats and corporate CEOs, many of whom went to fancy Eastern universities and are socially liberal, who like the Republicans' low-tax, pro-business policies.
  • Foreign policy hawks, including the neocons, who favor the Republicans because they are the party of military might and empire.
  • Blue collar workers, white ethnics, and other "Reagan Democrats" who think the Republicans will be tough on crime and supportive of the middle class.
  • Libertarians, gun lovers, militia supporters, and other anti-government types who buy into the Republicans "small government" rhetoric.

Do these groups agree with one another on everything? Do they fit together socially, religiously, ethnically, culturally?

Would the corporate chieftain who raised thousands for Bush and saved billions for his company by shipping manufacturing overseas agree on much with the laid-off auto worker from Flint who voted Republican in 2004 because he saw a picture of Kerry with Jane Fonda?

Would the mom from Mississippi whose kid joined the army to pay for college have much in common with the New York neocon who votes Republican because he hopes for invasions of several more Middle Eastern countries?

Obviously not. In fact, many of these people would be horrified if they really understood the crazy causes they are supporting by voting Republican.

But here in March, 2008, the media and the public aren't talking about any of those contradictions, are they? Instead, we're talking--and talking and talking--about the crazy, angry things said by the former pastor of Barack Obama's church. Because it's so very important that Democrats denounce and distance themselves from anyone in their coalition who has a position or an attitude that makes them uncomfortable or upset!

We have to denounce the angry, militant Blacks, and eliminate them from the Democratic coalition.

We have to denounce the wild-eyed, Chomskian leftists who think US foreign policy is deeply misguided, and eliminate them from the coalition.

We have to denounce the nutty socialists who want single-payer health care, or a more progressive tax system, or stricter regulation of the financial system, or any of those French-style economic policies, and eliminate them.

We have to denounce the extreme feminists who demand abortion rights and Title IX funding and an Equal Rights Amendment, and who see sexism in every nasty article about Hillary Clinton and every harmless joke about women.

We have to denounce people who are insufficiently supportive of Israel or overly concerned about the Palestinians.

We have to denounce the Michael Moore types who want to foment class warfare and believe there's some sort of government-business conspiracy to keep poor and working-class Americans down.

And we have to denounce the liberal activists--all those Daily Kos bloggers in their pajamas who hate America, and those MoveOn crazies who dared to criticize General Petraeus.

If we don't denounce all these left-wing extremists, the media will never take us Democrats or our presidential candidates seriously. The newspaper pundits will attack us, Tim Russert will hound us, and the commentators will bemoan our lack of bipartisanship.

And if we DO denounce them--as our party leaders regularly do, election after election!--we'll lose again in November, having eliminated from our coalition everyone with any passion.

And the Republicans, having quietly agreed--yet again--to pretend that the profound disagreements among their constituent groups simply don't exist, will once again glide to victory.

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