What the GOP Wants — or What Wingnuts Want, Anyway

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Obama Administration

The last post asked the question, “What does the GOP want? I think the question can be answered in two ways.

Psychologically, what most of ‘em want is a world in which everyone else is just like them — looks like them, thinks like them, etc. Ultimately, this is how they define “freedom.” Freedom to a hard-core wingnut has nothing to do with civil liberty or equal protection under the law. Instead, is the power to reshape the world so that it is more pleasing to them — a world in which they rule and are never challenged or insulted — and the heck with everyone else.

To achieve this, what they must want deep down is the ability to utterly subjugate or destroy everyone who isn’t like them, but of course they can’t admit that, even to themselves. If you pay close attention, though, you notice that most of their rhetoric amounts to demonization of the Not Them people. Because, you know, if They aren’t really human, it’s OK to hate and kill them.

If you think this portrayal of wingnuts is going too far, ask yourself — when was the last time a right-wing pundits or politician addressed liberal and progressive views in a way that was not a straw-man caricature?

For example, Andrew Roshenthal of the New York Times recently commented on a speech by Bobby Jindal:

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, whose name is often mentioned as a future presidential candidate, had a very blunt message for the Republican National Committee at its winter meeting this week. “We must stop being the stupid party,” he said. “I’m serious. It’s time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults.”

He said the G.O.P. is guilty of “insulting the intelligence of voters” and has spent too much time “dumbing down” its ideas. “We must reject the notion that demography is destiny, the pathetic and simplistic notion that skin pigmentation dictates voter behavior,” he said. He added that “the first step in getting voters to like you is to demonstrate that you like them.”

It seemed like an extraordinary acknowledgment of what the polls showed in November, which was that minority voters — including a large percentage of Hispanic voters — overwhelmingly rejected the Republicans’ candidates and policies.

But the rest of Mr. Jindal’s remarks suggested that he wants to change the jingle on the commercial rather than the product itself.

“As I indicated before, I am not one of those who believe we should moderate, equivocate, or otherwise abandon our principles,” he said. “This badly disappoints many of the liberals in the national media of course. For them, real change means supporting abortion on demand without apology; abandoning traditional marriage between one man and one woman; embracing government growth as the key to American success; agreeing to higher taxes every year to pay for government expansion; and endorsing the enlightened policies of European socialism.”

That, he said, “is what real change looks like to the New York Times editorial board.”

“[T]hat’s a rather extreme caricature of our positions,” Rosenthal sniffs. Rather. But when do they not do that? When have they not done that going back at least 20 years? Sure, sometimes progressive pundits and politicians present caricatures of right-wing proposals, but not all of the time. You can find plenty of examples of progressives discussing right-wing proposals accurately and seriously. Here’s a randomly selected Ezra Klein column as an example.

But can you ever find a right-wing columnist or politician whose arguments against progressive policy proposals do not ultimately fall back on straw men and caricature?

The truth is, they have absolutely no idea what we think and why we think it. Nor do they care. They only know we don’t agree with them, so we must be evil.

OK, that’s the meta-psychological reason. The more down-to-earth answer is good old-fashioned avarice. The plan is to turn the nation over to the corporations, and reduce everyone who isn’t rich and powerful to the status of sharecropper, if not serf, kept servile by being overworked, underpaid, and eternally in debt — student loan/credit card/payday loan, etc.

See, for example, “Sam Brownback’s Kansas is a resort for ‘makers‘”; “Makers, Takers, Fakers“; “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy.”

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 28, 2013 @2:41 pm

    I’m a pretty liberal Liberal, and I sure don’t know who they’re talking about when they describe what they think Liberals think or believe.

    Are we Socialists?
    Fascists?
    Communists?
    P*ssies?
    Evil aggressors, and meanies?
    Please, pick one!
    We can’t be one thing one day, another a day later, and then, the third, the day after that – except in the fevered imaginations of Conservatives.

    The one consistent thing they think, is that we’re all traitors.

    They project their own failings and inadequacies onto us.
    Modern Conservatism hasn’t had a new idea in generations.
    Right now, they aren’t proactive, they’re reactive.
    They wait to find out what Liberals/Conservatives/Democrats want, and then, they go in the diametric opposite direction – to be adjusted whenever necessary, even if they have to pull a few 180’s a few times a day.

    What they want, is for us to disappear.
    “Self-deport,” or, “Self-destruct,” or, whatever.
    Just leave them alone, so that things won’t change!

    The Republicans are a party right now that won’t change, can’t change, and is completely incapable of changing in the near future.
    To try to change, or advocate for it, is to be declared insufficiently Conservative. And that’s a Death Knell not only for a persons political future, but their future in Wingnut Welfare, and, to some extent, the MSM.
    As evidence, I give you Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann, two pretty centrist political observers, who blamed the Republicans for the problems in this country, and find themselves persona’s non grata in their former circles.
    Want more evidence?
    I give you David Frum, and William Buckley’s son, Christopher.
    Excommunicated, for being insufficiently Conservative.

  2. Stephen Stralka  •  Jan 28, 2013 @2:46 pm

    I tried this one time. I was arguing with a wingnut about the Iraq war in a comments section somewhere, and I proposed that we establish some common ground by each attempting to state the other’s position. So I went first, and said something like “After 9/11, the world is just too uncertain to allow an anti-American dictator to remain in power,” and so forth, and he said yeah, that was pretty close. So then it was his turn, and he said that some liberals probably were genuinely pacifist, but most opposed the war because of their unreasoning hatred for George W. Bush. So much for that.

  3. David Duff  •  Jan 28, 2013 @3:17 pm

    Your question: “But can you ever find a right-wing columnist or politician whose arguments against progressive policy proposals do not ultimately fall back on straw men and caricature?”

    My answer: Charles Krauthammer.

    You used these expressions to describe your political opponents:
    “hard-core wingnut”
    “what they must want deep down is the ability to utterly subjugate or destroy everyone who isn’t like them”
    “demonization of the Not Them people. Because, you know, if They aren’t really human, it’s OK to hate and kill them”
    “The plan is to turn the nation over to the corporations, and reduce everyone who isn’t rich and powerful to the status of sharecropper, if not serf, kept servile by being overworked, underpaid, and eternally in debt”.

    Would any civilised person wish to conduct a conversation with someone who wrote that sort of ignorant, vicious bilge? No wonder the Republicans don’t speak to you!

  4. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 28, 2013 @4:00 pm

    Not too OT:
    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112253/national-review-institute-summit-scenes-conservative-bunker#

    It seems like some of the Conservative pundits are starting to get it.
    The politicians who actually need to go out and get voters, but still need the Conservative base? Uhm… Not so much.

  5. maha  •  Jan 28, 2013 @4:01 pm

    Charles Krauthammer.

    You’re kidding, right? He’s worse than most of them.

    As to the rest of your comments, I’m not here to be nice. I’m here to speak the truth.

    Update: To everybody: Here’s Krauthammer’s latest column at WaPo. Anyone want to count the lies/straw men therein? I didn’t read beyond the howler about the President “nationalizing” health care. I wish.

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 28, 2013 @4:12 pm

    Krauthammer?
    LOL!
    Why, because he almost has a semi-lucid moment every few decades?
    Like a stopped clock, he’s occasionally, though rarely, right: Like when he said that Obama is the Anti-Reagan.

    Go back and read some of the eliminationsit rhetoric coming from him, and the other neo-con puntwits, back in the run-up to Bush’s Folly – or, is that Follies?

    And they were even worse in defending that needless epic disaster, when they found no WMD’s, and the Iraqi people didn’t exactly greet us with bon-bons and flowers, and instead, began extracting our blood and treasure!

    Krauthammer.
    ROFLMAO!!!

  7. David Duff  •  Jan 28, 2013 @5:38 pm

    “I’m not here to be nice”

    But in your post you were blaming Republicans for not talking to you and your fellows Dems. Why would they if all they receive is the sort of loutish abuse you dish out?

    And here was me thinking that Buddhism was peaceful!

  8. maha  •  Jan 28, 2013 @5:54 pm

    But in your post you were blaming Republicans for not talking to you and your fellows Dems.

    I did no such thing. Learn to read.

  9. paradoctor  •  Jan 28, 2013 @6:01 pm

    “He said the G.O.P. … has spent too much time “dumbing down” its ideas.”

    As opposed to “too little” time dumbing down its ideas? Or “just enough” time dumbing down its ideas?

    I call that the “too many trope”. The solution is to set “just enough” to zero.

  10. Swami  •  Jan 28, 2013 @6:54 pm

    David Duff …Why are the Repugs now crying about the need to connect with women voters,hispanic voters and black voters? Maybe because they’ve alienated them?

    And speaking of abuse…some of us have experience in understanding the mechanics of abusive behavour in dialog.. and when you introduced the word” blame” in your comment you introduced abusive dialog. To project blame is to project guilty; and when you project guilt in dialog..you’re an abuser. I’m sure you can’t see the dynamics of your abuse through langauge because abusers are seldom aware of their abusive techniques..They almost come natural. They’re so ingrained in abusers like you that you don’t even know that your being abusive. You’re a typical Repug!

  11. Paraquat  •  Jan 28, 2013 @7:06 pm

    Interesting comment by Steven above on his (failed) attempt to establish some common ground with a wingnut.

    I had a similar experience with trying to establish any rapport with a global warming “skeptic” (actually “denialist” but I was too polite to call him that). He insisted that the “warmists” (his term) believed in Marxism and made up the global warming hoax to destroy the USA and capitalism. Needless to say, we didn’t find any common ground, but at least I can say that I tried.

  12. Mike G  •  Jan 28, 2013 @8:48 pm

    He insisted that the “warmists” (his term) believed in Marxism and made up the global warming hoax to destroy the USA and capitalism.

    Yes, America-hating Marxists like the Department of Defense, and every reinsurance corporation in the world, those dirty Islamo-commies.

    Organizations that have lots of money riding on accurately predicting the climate decades out are basing their plans on climate change being real. But it’s much more comforting for the wingnut mind to remain swaddled in Fox News fantasies and the propaganda of oil companies who have billions riding on convincing you that nothing is happening so they don’t have to pay the real cost of the damage they are doing.

  13. Lynne  •  Jan 28, 2013 @8:54 pm

    “Loutish abuse”? I thought we were being quite civil.

  14. erinyes  •  Jan 28, 2013 @9:25 pm

    I suppose the Republican party now wants to be the “Taco Bell” of Mexican Restaurants, you know where they make up names for(low Quality ) stuff they create to sell to those with no knowledge of Mexican food at all.There is no intention to be “friendly” to minorities, but there is a pathological need to win at all costs;by way of deception preferred.We gotta be nice to them niggras and messicans so they’ll join our party thinkin we care about them…..
    And PLEEZE, don’t get me started on Krauthammer,he is a Kardashian space rat at best.
    Ugly as sin inside and out.

  15. Doug  •  Jan 28, 2013 @10:06 pm

    DD (yo big boob) – Look at the statement in question by Jindal.

    For them, real change means supporting abortion on demand without apology;

    That’s simply false. For liberals, he abortion issue is simply and totally about choice. Who decides? The government or the woman and her doctor. The SCOTUS decided that late-term abortions can rightfully be restricted if the fetus is viable outside the womb. I don’t know anyone who approves of abortion as birth control. In some cases, it’s the lesser of two evils, a judgement call, and I endorse the judgement of the woman who is pregnant. (Not Jindal’s). To return to the original point, Jindal deliberately twisted the position of pro-choice advocates.

    abandoning traditional marriage between one man and one woman;

    Nothing was abandoned except the right of institutions to discriminate based on sexual orientation. Your marriage, as traditional as you want it, has not changed! On what basis should you as an individual or we as a nation persecute people for being born different than ‘traditional’ hetero couples.

    embracing government growth as the key to American success;

    I dare you to find a source in government who has identified government growth as key to success. The size and spending of the federal government has been declining! The ‘growth of government’ argument is a myth.

    agreeing to higher taxes every year to pay for government expansion;

    Government isn’t expanding. The last time we had a balanced budget was also a boom time for the economy – with higher taxes. We can eliminate the red ink with a return to the rates and policies that existed when the economy was good AND everyone chipped in as an act of patriotism. (I have nothing but contempt for ‘patriots’ who balk at paying taxes.)

    endorsing the enlightened policies of European socialism.”

    Whenever any other country has faced and solved problems similar to ours, it makes sense to look at HOW!. The GOP won’t even look at the policies of the United States in times we were prosperous. (and business and the wealthy paid higher taxes without complaint) In this snippet, Jindal thrusts his head up his ass, and declares he will only consider solutions tattooed on his colon.

    Excuse the hell out of me for being angry when a major GOP player ames a major speech around a key statement that is, clause by clause, false. I grant Jindal his right to an opinion, but these are statements unsupported (or completely contradicted) by reality.

  16. Swami  •  Jan 28, 2013 @10:12 pm

    Paulie says he thinks the President thinks that we don’t have a debt crisis. And Marco thinks that the President thinks that we don’t think he thinks the way we think in thinking about the 2nd amendment. At least I think that’s what he thinks,because that’s what he said.

  17. Doug  •  Jan 28, 2013 @10:42 pm

    Yes – but do you think Paulie thinks we understand what he says when he says that he thinks he knows what the President thinks because of what the President said?

  18. Swami  •  Jan 28, 2013 @10:56 pm

    Ithink so

  19. biggerbox  •  Jan 28, 2013 @11:09 pm

    It seems to me that part of the problem is a mindset that believes in there being a Right Answer, and the morale virtue of knowing what that answer is. The concept of the Right Answer is that it is unitary, and all other answers must therefore be WRONG! answers, and those who don’t believe in the unitary Right Answer are lesser, because they are wrong.

    This mindset has no room for the possibility that there might be multiple answers that are equally valid, or “Right”, nor is there room for the (very frightening to them) possibility that NO answer is “Right”, or (most frightening) that we might not be able to know.

    The thing that strikes me about so many on the Right is this conviction they have, either explicitly or implicitly, that there is a Right Way, and they know what it is. It’s so bad that they can’t even hypothetically grant the basis of left-wing arguments, since that would require holding in their heads the idea that the Right Answer might NOT be the Right Answer, which of course they know it is, so why would they not want to just keep holding on to it, even for a second?

    It’s no surprise they end up handicapped by strawmen projections of what we think, which they ARE able to imagine by mostly by inverting their concept of Right Answer.

    It’s very comforting to know you are right, especially when you live in a reality that keeps sending you subtle signals that maybe you really aren’t.

  20. Evan  •  Jan 29, 2013 @1:13 am

    Psychologically, what most of ‘em want is a world in which everyone else is just like them

    This, IMHO, is quite mistaken. Did slaveholders want a world in which everyone was a slaveholder? Did monarchists want a world in which everyone was king? Of course not; who’d be the slaves and the subjects?

    Conservatives want there to be a hierarchy of dominance. They don’t insist on being at the top of it, but they prefer the person at the top to be someone they identify with, and they do not want to be on the bottom.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The grand unified field theory of politics is that for any controversy in which one outcome would tend to maintain or expand a differential in power and privilege between two interest groups (whether they be management/labor, men/women, white/black, native/immigrant, gay/straight, christian/muslim, whatever) and the other outcome would tend to reduce or mitigate that differential, the first outcome is the conservative position and the second is the liberal position. I’ve been looking for an exception to this rule for years, and at this point I’m comfortable with the conclusion that no such exception exists.

    The liberal mentality is “nobody wins unless everybody wins”. The conservative mentality is “nobody wins unless somebody else loses”… so it’s very important that losers keep losing in order for winners to keep winning. Psychologically, that is what conservatives want.

  21. Doug  •  Jan 29, 2013 @8:50 am

    Evan – I like your theory. However, in the last para, you describe a situation that seldom exists. (“nobody wins unless everyone wins”) Sometimes you are slicing up a pie and to give everyone a fair share, the group who has been getting the biggest share (wealth or power) will have to surrender a significant portion if the result is to be parity. A big part of the current fight is an attempt by conservatives to “freeze” the status quo- as far as taxes and power are concerned – and to hell with the result as it affects dealing with pressures of a changing dynamic.

  22. maha  •  Jan 29, 2013 @9:25 am

    This, IMHO, is quite mistaken. Did slaveholders want a world in which everyone was a slaveholder? Did monarchists want a world in which everyone was king? Of course not; who’d be the slaves and the subjects?

    Back in the day, slaves or serfs didn’t qualify as “people,” though, in the eyes of the ruling class, and the ruling class could buffer themselves from ever having to deal with them.

    But the larger issue is that the old nobility/plantation owners didn’t suffer from quite the same pathology as today’s wingnuts, so I don’t think the example applies, exactly. The plantation owner wanted to keep his slaves, knowing that they were making him money. But wingnuts see the Others as parasites and leeches who take things away from them.

  23. c u n d gulag  •  Jan 29, 2013 @9:43 am

    WAAAY OT – EU rules changes in a couple of years, may mean more immigrants from poorer countries coming to England.
    Here are some home-made signs (some are LOL funny), explaining to foreigners why they shouldn’t come to Merry Ol’…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/gallery/2013/jan/29/immigration-britain-ministers-gallery#/?picture=403153052&index=0

  24. joanr16  •  Jan 29, 2013 @10:13 am

    Bobby Jindal is a pretty good example in support of your suggestion, considering he has completely transformed himself in order to fit in with the GOP.

  25. Swami  •  Jan 29, 2013 @1:25 pm

    One theory is that we’re all just a composites of positive and negative energy. And the wingnuts happen to be more negatively charged.

  26. paradoctor  •  Jan 29, 2013 @2:14 pm

    If I may play devil’s advocate here…

    Please remember that a lot of those folks are really hurting. The new Gilded Age has treated them badly indeed, and they know it. However they do not know the true sources of their multiple injuries; those same sources have told them a different tale. So they direct understandable rage at the wrong targets.

    What to do? Compassion and patience; but also the passionate speaking of truth. Of course the worst cases won’t listen; but bystanders might. And their children probably have a clue.

  27. Mike G  •  Jan 29, 2013 @2:32 pm

    He said the G.O.P. is guilty of “insulting the intelligence of voters” and has spent too much time “dumbing down” its ideas.

    That’s a natural consequence when your “ideas” are specifically designed to deceive and attract dumbasses who can’t or won’t think very much. The GOP are the political party equivalent of Jerry Springer.

  28. Swami  •  Jan 29, 2013 @2:38 pm

    I agree with biggerox. My observation of the revealed religion mind set shows me characteristics in the thinking process that are same or near identical to the wingnut mind. They need for a foundation,or an anchor, or something to establish an absolute when we exist in a world where there are no absolutes. They find security in adhering to, or bonding with values established by others and they won’t challenge those values because it undermines their security.
    They won’t go outside of their intellecual perimeter for fear that some evil liberal will attack them with a club of reason. So they stay nestled in the warm bosom of wingnuttia listening to the soothing voices coming from the right wing media.

    God said it..I believe it..and that settles it.



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