As the returns from South Carolina came in, and the result became oh so clear, a couple of points stuck out in my mind and caused me to redigest everything I have learned about the GOP. A party which seemingly is reeling with an internal schizophrenia, I am convinced, can be explained.
Today and tomorrow, I’ll lay out the formula I think is at work in the United States that explains how the Republican party has come to this point. Who are these people you ask? My answer is that they are divided into three distinct groups.
First let me say that what motivated my desire to set this down was this: polling determined that 73% of all South Carolinian GOP voters make under $100,000 per year. They are not the One percenters. Secondly, it was not Gingrich’s answer to the “did you ask your wife for an open marriage” that was the turning point in his rise in the polls.
Rather, Gingrich’s renewed surge in the polls was tied perfectly to what South Carolinian voters said again and again when asked (and might I add, the wording is most important):
“I knew Newt was the right guy when he put Juan Williams in his place.”
Now, to average Americans this statement could not be a more blatant expression of racism, yet it is said with a certain blasé righteousness that can only suggest that the speakers actually believe that it is both correct and not in the least bigoted.
These, then were my starting points.
- At its core, the GOP is what it has been for more than a hundred years: the all-white, all male, club of big business, consisting of the wealthy elite of America
Certainly the GOP was one something quite different from this, as when Abraham Lincoln was its head. But it has been the champion of big business for more than a hundred years. If you search out old political cartoons of the 1890′s for instance, the same jokes would play as well today as then. Give us the money, and stop regulating us has been the continual mantra.
- As with any established party, the vast majority of “members” are barely aware of what the party stands for
Most people are what they are by virtue of what their parents are or were, or where they work or live. Most folks are apolitical. What is going on in Congress or their state legislatures barely registers unless some issue that will impact them directly arises. Most people, if they were honest, wouldn’t see much difference in their lives between different administrations, and they are most likely to agree with the proposition that “both parties are pretty much the same.” They can say this whether they are happy or unhappy with the country at large.
- The core, is by its nature very small.
There is a reason they are called the 1% after all. The corporate elite depends on a vast array of people who will both be workers and consumers, so by their nature they are small in number. And this creates the problem, and the basis of today’s post: how to get a significant bloc of voters to vote for us when for all intents and purposes, they have no economic reason to.
HOW TO BUILD A VOTING BASE 101:
- Identify the characteristics that are essential to your plan
Choose a group that is not well-educated. You are aiming for high-school and/or trade school graduates only. You subjects must be largely incurious about current events, and know little more than the basics as it relates to world or national history. They should be hard-working, mostly from the working class (lower, middle, and upper), and spend most of their time trying to give themselves and their families a “better life.” They should not be “interested” in things political, either domestic or foreign. Religion can be useful.
- Target the key places to intercept and inject new “theology”
Here you decide what traits to use to your advantage: education, religion, history, patriotism, engrained distrust of “federal” institutions. Once your demographics are determined you must decide how best to exploit them. A plan is devised to work on each separately, letting them mold together through the voting public into a coalesced “party bloc” (i.e “the moral majority, the Tea Party are examples)
- Marrying your “new base” to the core
This is essential. Although your target is not you, they must relate to you, and think they can become you. There are two ways to do this: One is to press the Darwinian (don’t use that word though!) misappropriate of “survival of the fittest”. Ironically, this idea of social survival of the fittest was created in “elitist” eastern preppy colleges to explain the likes of Vanderbilt and the Rockefeller. This was considered the right and normal course of “evolution.”
Core Republicans now take this term and explain that being successful in business in “natural” and is the normal result of American superiority, and of course, unfettered capitalism (as they would define it). This is then married to the “Protestant Ethic” which calls upon all people to work hard as a Christian duty. The Core explains that hard work is what leads to survival of the fittest. Those who work hard succeed, those who don’t aren’t worthy of succeeding.
Tell lots of stories of how hard word has led various multimillionaires to their success. Press their “humble beginnings” and how they “pulled themselves up by the boot straps”. The point is, you’re trying to convince these working class people that they too, with hard work, can become you, the rich and elite.
Tomorrow: Part II (Grooming your new base to do your bidding)