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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

US Republicanism: drill, baby, drill « Previous | |Next »
September 5, 2008

The Republicans are grounded in the values of the small towns of regional America that is in opposition to both the elitist-class in the big cosmopolitan cities who o don't put "Country First" and the liberal media that the Republican machine continually trashes----the press is out to get her etc etc. The right-wing base say yeah yeah UnAmerican. Smalltown America forms the core pro-life Republican base that remains uneasy about McCain.

Palin is seen as the conservative unifier (of the anti-taxers and the evangelicals) who can attack with a smile on her face (a pitbull in lipstick), make a crude populist pitch (cutting taxes, Republican small government against the Democrat nanny state) and exacerbate traditional political divisions.

BellPalin.jpg Steve Bell

The soap opera's turn to the family-value conservative base by the Republicans is also a turn away from the centre. Yet the centre is where they need to go in order to be returned to the White House. So how do they build towards the centre? Arguing that drilling for oil in Alaska is a national energy policy?

Palin's is the face of the old GOP as her speech was one of fierce, sarcastic, unrelenting partisanship; a Republicanism that Americans have been voting against since the Democrats gained control of Congress. Under the partisanship is the working class, the nuclear family, the concerns and anxieties of downscale Americans, and their cultural traditionalism in preserving the traditional family structure.

So the Republicans will need to talk about America's economic woes, if they want to retain their control of the White House. So far the Republican machine is intensifying the culture wars and using cultural symbols as substitutes for policies in order to make Democrats, liberals, and “the media” into the cultural enemies of ordinary people.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:12 AM | | Comments (17)


Robert Kuttner in Tapped, a blog at The American Prospect says that making Democrats, liberals, and “the media” into the cultural enemies of ordinary people is not throwing red meat at the conservative base:

The strategy of energizing the base is leveraged into using cultural symbols to reach out to everyone else who is frustrated with how little they get back from the economy and the government--not just hard core right-to-life women in Missouri and Oklahoma, but downwardly mobile white men in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

In this strategy, every little Democratic misstep is inflated into a cultural parable, while gaping holes in the Republican story are neatly sidestepped. The master narrative of Obama as an unqualified elitist will be reinforced again and again

This serves as a smokscreen to cover up the e weak economy and its effect on regular working class Americans.

The Republicans don't have any choice on the economy, if they mention it they look bad. At the moment all they can do is flash Palin around as much as possible and hope the culture wars thing does it for them again, or stick her in a drawer somewhere and hope McCain can gain a bit of the middle ground.

Old habits die hard. I reckon they'll stick with the culture wars.

"Palin's is the face of the old GOP as her speech was one of fierce, sarcastic, unrelenting partisanship; a Republicanism that Americans have been voting against since the Democrats gained control of Congress."
A very short, sharp and insight piece of analysis. It stands in contrast to the partisan rubbish I read on Ambit Gambit this morning. I'm sorry but it's claim to be "analysis" really was offensive.

Don't the family-value Republicans hold that teen pregnancy was the moral failure of the parents---self-centred feminist putting career ahead of family etc etc.

Yet here is Palin seeking to be Vice-President of the US.

Graham's piece on Palin surprised me. He's open about his politics, but he's usually more level headed than that. I wondered whether maybe he got carried away, being over there and all. Still, he had nothing on Greg Sheridan.

Patrick B
I read Graeme Young's Palin post on Ambit Gambit.This paragraph caught my eye:

With politicians so much on the nose, if McCain is to win he has to be a non-politician politician. Palin helps him here. Like McCain, she is a rebel, and as a woman she is a member of a "minority" (if you can call slightly more than 50% of the population a minority). She is also a "redneck", albeit an acceptable one, and will resonate with southern voters. Despite what I might think about creationism for example, it is probably a majority belief in many parts of the US, particularly in the south, an area where Obama was already behind with many voters for racial reasons.

That 'acceptable redneck' does downplay the fundamentalism of Palin social conservative strand of Republicanism. She lives in Mike Huckabee's territory of creationism, is anti-science, reckons Iraq is part of God's plan etc. Palin represents evangelical Christianism and her speech at the convention thad the hall marks of a religious revival.

This is a another sign of McCain's submission to the conservative movement that despises (has contempt for) McCain.It is another indication of McCain's big swing to the Right to shore up the base and how much the the GOP is now primarily a religious organization.

the Republican noise machine is pretty powerful and it was in overdrive to sell Palin. The Australian devoted pages to selling Palin in Australia. This stuff s all about the grassroots base. Yeah baby size matters. Drill baby drill. The sexuality is everywhere.

I doubt that Palin's speech, which was a good theatrical performance, would persuade anyone outside the grassroots Republican base--ie those the Americans call the independents.

Young doesn't explore Palin's cutting tone appeals to the centre of the electorate or the disaffected Democrats. The Republican convention is mostly about endless jibes at Obama and countless calls to drill for more oil. What is evaded is the serious policy issues that confront America---the economy, energy, healthcare, debt, Afghanistan etc etc.

McCain's appeal to the centre is change. he and Palin are going to Washington to change Washington. That means s distancing themselves from the Bush administration

Gary, It's becoming more obvious that Palin was installed to bring home the American evangelicals, which she's done to the extent that she'd be VP and not P. She's not convincing the swinging voters though.

The point you make about sexuality is interesting. She has that appeal for already converted Americans, but that's a harder sell in Australia. Albrechtson is clearly starstruck, but then, John Howard did it for her. When I first read Sheridan's droolings I hoped for his sake that he'd been wearing loose pants when he wrote it. The attraction escapes me, but I never understood the conservative vision of Thatcher as a saucy minx either.

When it comes to serious policy issues, neither side is talking in substantive terms. American politics has misplaced the difference between politics and Hollywood. They've always amused themselves through hard times, from Betty Grable to Sarah Palin.

Nan, the Republicans have picked up Obama's change mantra to distance themselves from Bush, and to take the shine off Obama's version of change. His change will be all shiny and elitist, ours will be homey and familiar.

Familiar change? Nobody said it had to make sense.

An Open Letter to Senator John McCain and the Republican National Committee:

September 2, 2008

Dear Senator McCain and Mike Duncan, Chairman, Republican National Committee:

"Dear" is all you will get from me. By now you all should be in Minneapolis for your shindig that you call a “convention.”

I am an African-American, and I cannot hold back my anger any longer. It is a documented fact that the Republican Party before and during the Civil War supported and benefited from slavery. As a matter of fact, the Republican Party was started for the express purpose of defending slavery and holding down black people.

It is also a matter of record that the Ku Klux Klan was started by Republicans after the Civil War to terrorize and murder black and white Democrats in the South. Republicans hated the fact that many ex-slaves were serving in state and federal government. They also hated the fact that everyone of the ex-slaves were all members of the Democratic Party. All the white Democrats, before and after the Civil War, were sympathetic to the cause of abolition of slavery and of civil rights for blacks, therefore racist Republicans had no use for them.

The Republicans historically have been bitter opponents of the following Democratic initiatives:

• The 13th Amendment that abolished slavery in 1865
• The 1866 Civil Rights Act
• The First Reconstruction Act of 1867
• The 14th Amendment in 1868 that made all persons born in the U.S., including former slaves, U.S. citizens.
• The 15th Amendment in 1870 that give every citizen the right to vote
• The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 which was to stop Republican Klansmen to terrorized white and black Democrats
• The 1875 Civil Rights Act
• The 1957 Civil Rights Act
• The 1964 Civil Rights Act
• The 1965 Voters Rights Act

In every case, the white Republicans in the Senate, especially Senator Everett Dirksen, and in the House of Representatives fought passage of these laws in every turn as well as being compelled to give up their slaves after the Civil War. The Democratic leadership, especially Senator Robert Byrd who has always despised the Ku Klux Klan and who discouraged white Americans from joining that gang, fought very hard to have those laws passed. Democratic Senator Al Gore Sr., not only voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964, but he, along side of Senator Byrd, fought a 74-day filibuster by Republicans to defeat the legislation. The Congressional Quarterly of June 26, 1964 recorded that, in the Senate, only 69% of Republicans (46 for, 21 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act as compared to 82% of Democrats (27 for, 6 against) the Civil Rights Act. In the House of Representatives, 61% of Republicans (152 for, 96 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act and. 80% of Democrats, (138 for, 34 against) voted for it.

The Republicans have also opposed every Democratic anti-lynching bill to their shame. The Democrats have always been opposed to lynchings for decades.

For these reason, we black people deserve an apology from the Republican Party for the following:

• support of slavery, on record in their platforms
• support of the Dred Scott decision
• support of segregation and Jim Crow prejudice
• opposition to anti-lynching laws
• attempts to destroy black schools and colleges, and the burning of black churches
• efforts to defeat the Reparation Bill of 1866
• efforts to defeat every piece of Civil Rights legislation from 1863 to 1964
• efforts to have the 1875 Civil Rights Act declared unconstitutional
• support of the Ku Klux Klan, composed of entirely Republicans, and its vile and violent racist agenda:
• Republican participation in the lynchings of thousands of blacks.

History will also show the following:
• Eugene “Bull” Conner (the poster boy of American racism) was a Republican.
• The poll tax was a Republican institution.
• Black codes and Jim Crow laws were instituted by Republicans.

Africans Americans are even due reparations from the Republican Party since it supported and benefited from slavery as well as supporting KKK terror, racism, etc. The Civil Rights movement started because of the majority white racist Republican power structure in the South.

The Democratic Party, of course, has had its problems racially here and there, unfortunately, but it does not have the consistent racist legacy for decades and decades, stretching back to the early 1800’s as the Republican Party has had. The Democratic Party, in general, has always been supportive of and open and honest with African Americans throughout its history.

You Republicans have been very slick in ignoring and even hiding your racist past from black people. It is time for the Republican Party to come clean, tell the truth, and settle the debt.


Brother X

you write that "it's becoming more obvious that Palin was installed to bring home the American evangelicals, which she's done to the extent that she'd be VP and not P. She's not convincing the swinging voters though."
They are turning themselves inside out to do so. AS Guy Rundle writes in The Age

The right has insisted that teen pregnancy has nothing to do with ignorance or lack of opportunity, and everything to do with virtue and good parenting. For this reason they, including Palin, had voted for abstinence-only education.

Suddenly, with palin, teen pregnancy was a morally neutral act, and everything politicised in the past 20 years, was now a matter of privacy. They've just adopted liberalism.

Brother X left out kicking black Americans off the electoral rolls and preventing them from getting to voting booths.

Gary, it doesn't seem to be working very well for them. Rumour has it that Palin won't be doing the talkshow circuit. Assuming the rumours are true you have to figure she's not working out as an all rounder trump card.

"They've just adopted liberalism." Inconsistency doesn't seem to bother them that much.

One thing Palin has done is expose a movement I have been following for some time. The New Misogyny.

The NM is a movement spearheaded by The Uglies - LP wymyn and their allies. Truly putrid excuses for human beings. No wonder they are so thoroughly rejected by women across the western world!

though I detest what Palin stands for I can see her power and attractiveness s to conservative mothers in Middle America--- a feminine yet powerful conservative Christian mother -- is someone they understand.

Gary, I have visions of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. And Gold Coast women.

re your comment, "McCain's appeal to the centre is change. he and Palin are going to Washington to change Washington. That means s distancing themselves from the Bush administration".

I'm not sure what the Republicans mean by change ---reforming Washington". They have no program; no grievances, no proposals. Just vague gestures. Does reform mean replacing Bush and Cheney?