Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is The GOP Finally Broken?

We see today a case of dueling essays - first "Even Frank Luntz Can’t Put the Broken Republican Message Machine Back Together Again," by Sarah Jones at and then "The Demise of the GOP? Don't Get Your Hopes Up," by Steven Jonas for Buzzflash at

The piece at"

"Remember when Republicans had a messaging machine that Democrats could only dream of? Those days are over. But they’re not over because Republicans lack discipline on messaging, as Republican spin master Frank Luntz posited in a New York Times column and they’re not over just because Obama uses better language.

"Those days are over because the GOP’s extremism gave the public a peek behind the curtain, and because the Obama Democrats finally found a way to impart their values in simple phrases.

"After wisfully suggesting that Republicans won’t take his advice and instead will try to rebrand the same angry sneer they’ve been so unsucessfully selling as if they were selling soap and not 'trust', Luntz bemoans the President’s messaging machine:

"Never mind that the fiscal cliff legislation Obama just signed has more than $40 in tax increases for every $1 in cuts or that Social Security and Medicare are hurtling toward insolvency. And it doesn’t matter that the president says he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling; thanks to his effective messaging, it is Republicans who are being blamed for intransigence.

"Notice how Luntz never admits that balanced cuts would cut into defense spending? This is one reason Republicans are failing — even their pollsters and spin masters exist in a bubble that they can’t seem to get out of. Luntz blames Republicans for not being disciplined with their “message” (you can 'message trust', eh? So 2002) and says Obama is winning the debt ceiling debate even though Obama refuses to negotiate with Republicans.

"The truth is that the debt ceiling has never been a thing to hold hostage or negotiate over, and that’s why the President won’t negotiate over it. That is also why the Treasury said they will not mint a trillion dollar coin. Raising the debt ceiling to pay the bills Congress already spent is a constitutionally mandated job of Congress – so if Republicans want to ignore that duty, they’ll have to face the public. Oh, and also Wall Street. Yeah. That will go well for the party of 'job creators' and 'business'.

"Luntz says Republicans should strive to be more than just the party of 'small businesses and job creators'. Newsflash: The Republican Party is not the party of either, or else a) their policies would benefit small business but they don’t, and b) the trickle down tax cuts to the rich would have created jobs by now, but they haven’t.

"Luntz suggests that Republicans start saying they are fighting for 'American taxpayers' instead of 'job creators'. But Republicans are not fighting for American taxpayers; in fact, the people/corporations Republicans fight for often do not pay taxes at all.

"House Republicans just spent weeks refusing to give the middle class (American tax payers) a tax break unless the rich got one too. The policies of the GOP do not go with the language Luntz is suggesting. This used to work, but in the age of the Internet (i.e., fact-checking), it’s not working so well anymore.

"Luntz laments that Obama stole this line from Republicans, 'If you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to get ahead.' (Note to Luntz: it’s called the American work ethic and Republicans only owned it in their own minds.) But the question now is, which rules is Luntz referring to? Perhaps he’s unaware that it is precisely the resentful people who did play by the rules who got burned by banks/Wall Street (neither of which were playing by the “rules”).

"Republicans have done nothing but fight for the right for those institutions to keep ripping off the American taxpayer. Republicans call it 'less regulation' in order to 'create jobs' – but in reality, it’s nothing more than a Randian experiment gone horribly and predictably wrong. The proof is in the American taxpayers’ wallet, their portfolio, and the value of their home versus their mortgage.

"Luntz suggests that while Republicans were bickering Obama took his case to the people and this is why the public thinks Republicans only care about the rich. Luntz never addresses the fact that the Republican policies only benefit the rich. Seriously. His remedy is for Republicans to use better language – to stop showing disdain for the President before showing respect to the public. (Good luck with that, Luntz – contempt and disdain are the Republican Party’s tell. See Eric Cantor’s smirk.) Luntz also believes that Obama used language like 'fair share' while never getting specific about what this meant, which allowed the voters to project their ideas on to Obama’s language. In reality, Obama was very specific about his tax plan.

"Luntz gets it right here:
"'Changing course starts with a values-based approach, and that means talking to Americans about accountability, personal responsibility and freedom — and linking those values to GOP policies.'
"And then proceeds to never link this to actual policies, but to suggest Republicans change the question. He suggests they replace 'pay their fair share' with 'should the government take more?' If by 'take more' he means honor our commitment to our seniors, the disabled, our veterans and our hungry children, YES. That’s the answer Luntz doesn’t understand. Those American taxpayers he’s pretending to love? They want to take care of the above list of citizens. They think we should try corporations giving up a few subsidies and at least paying their taxes before we reach into Grandma’s pocket to steal her Medicare, or leave our veterans without jobs and proper healthcare.

"The problem is not Republicans’ language. The problem is that no matter what language they use to couch their callous, reckless, already debunked policies, the public can see through it. That is the problem.

"Luntz does suggest Republicans stop the all-guns-all-the-time orgy of irresponsibility regarding gun laws, and he points out that Romney’s language regarding “immigrants” was not helpful. He suggests compassion in the language, but what about the policy? Psst — Luntz, your contempt and disdain for the American taxpayer is showing. They aren’t that stupid. Really. You can stop calling it 'self-deport', but when you show nothing but contempt for a voting block, chances are they’re going to get wise to you eventually.

"It’s not the shell, it’s the egg inside of the shell that’s damaged. Rebranding Humpty Dumpty with happy language isn’t going to cut it.

"Frank Luntz powered the Republican Party to deceptive victory for years, but even he can’t put the GOP back together again."


"Is the GOP really going to sink into mist because of its rhetoric? And if that were to happen, it would have to be because of the rhetoric, because their economic policies have not really changed since they became the Corporatist Party in the 1880s, which promoted: power to the corporations, limit to the greatest degree possible the trade union movement, low income and corporate taxes, limited government spending on anything other than what benefits the corporations, as little government regulation for the economy and the environment as possible, no 'social safety net' or if one is forced upon them, make it as limited as possible. Republicans have always had a political cover of one sort or another in order to get the votes they needed.

"First it was anti-immigrant and pro-prohibition (and both the 'Know-Nothing Nativists' and the Temperance Movement were important parts of the original Republican coalition from its founding in the 1850s). This worked well for decades (think Prohibition in 1920, the Anti-Immigration Act of 1924), until the Great Depression and the advent of the New Deal. But then came the rise of the powerful industrial unions in the 1930s, often communist-led. And so the GOP dusted off the "anti-socialist" hysteria of the 'Red Scare' Palmer Raids (actually carried out under the 'Great Democrat' Woodrow Wilson) and began the anti-communist hysteria that eventually led to McCarthyism in the 1950s.

"The next cover was Richard Nixon's 'Southern Strategy' of the 1970s and the racist 'Drug War,' following the passage of the Civil and Voting Rights by the Democrats in 1964-5. And again, the basic policies of the GOP did not change at all, except that Nixon thought that some regulation of the workplace and the environment was a good idea (because in his time there still some capitalists who realized that such regulations in the long run benefitted the corporate state). The next set of covers were Reagan's: re-enforcement of the racist theme, but now adding to it the issues that appealed to the religious right: the criminalization of abortion on religious grounds and rank homophobia. In addition, the National Rifle Association (NRA), formerly a sportsmen's club concerned with the maintenance of hunting rights and gun safety, in the 1970s was taken over by elements representing the gun industry (whose prime interest of course was selling guns and ammunition). They started raising lots of money and spent it politically, actually in both parties. But it was the GOP that put the misinterpretation of the Second Amendment to say that anyone could own any gun they wanted to (tanks anyone?), out front.

"These covers over time have worked very well for the GOP. For example, in addition to cheating in Ohio, Karl Rove won the 2004 election for George W. Bush by putting anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot in 12 states, some of them swing states. And then came the Koch/Armey Teabaggers, some of whom have gotten folks like Scarborough all upset. But why? Are they really against basic GOP policies that have been GOP policies since the 19th century? Why no. They are all for them. The problem is that they just don't treat the cover issues in the 'right way.' They are in fact too honest. They are really right up-front in their racism, in their misogyny, in their religious authoritarianism, in their anti-trade unionism, in their denial of science and their concomitant promotion of creationism, in their 'every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost' Randian social philosophy (that was actually strongly promoted by Reagan but with 'polite' language). They are just plain embarrassing on the one hand and much too honest on the other.

"So what's a 'thinking' Republican to do? Leave the party like Colin Powell is doing in all but name? Join some third way outfit made up of 'center-rightists,' both Democrat and GOP? Or, try to make some accommodation to the demographic trends, which at least in part led to Obama's victory in 2012 (see the son of fake 'Cuban Refugees' Marco Rubio)? Or should they go on bemoaning the veil that has been stripped from their party, like Scarborough and Steve Schmidt, McCain's remarkably honest former campaign manager, is doing and just say 'we're done for'?

"There is another way and the GOP has been well into it since before the 2010 election, which put numbers of tea-baggers in the Congress. Voter suppression and gerrymandering have become powerful political tools in the hands of the Republicans and will become even more powerful in the future. The true GOP that include Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, the Club for Growth (of the income/wealth gap), the Heritage Foundation, and the Le-vinitating O'Rhannibaugh/Fox 'News' propaganda machine, is going absolutely nowhere. The problem is that no matter what language they use to couch their callous, reckless, already debunked policies, the public can see through it."

Which scenario is correct, the first one, that "(t)he problem is that no matter what language they use to couch their callous, reckless, already debunked policies, the public can see through it," or the second opinion, "The problem is that no matter what language they use to couch their callous, reckless, already debunked policies, the public can see through it?"

While the euphora of the 2012 Election can persuade us that the demise of the Republican Party is around the corner is attractive, but the Conservatives have been around forever.  They almost derailed the formation of this country several hundred years ago, but as Jefferson noted: "Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests." 

As long as individuals and corporations are able to amass great wealth, the men "who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hand of the higher classes," the Conservatives will continue to drive this country to ruination.  As long as Conservatism remains a legal entity here, democracy will continue to wither.

We must strive to criminalize Conservatism if we are to survive.


"A two-year-old is kind of like having a blender, but you don't have a top for it."
Jerry Seinfeld