What the GOP Wants — or What Wingnuts Want, Anyway

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.”