Thursday, January 13, 2011

The party of the people

It's really amazing what a great job the Republicans have done in hornswaggling America and undermining democracy. Sometimes we forget what they're really doing and assume they're 50% of the country, fair and square, and that we've got a genuine cultural divide going on. But it's really just the biggest scam in modern history.

When you look with anything more than the most superficial appraisal at the Republicans it is immediately clear, from who their leadership is, from what their policies are, that they represent the rich. They are the aristocracy. They consistently support pre-democratic ways of things being done, and the concentration of wealth and power. And yet, they have built up an impression amongst certain people that they are the party of the people.

Ultimately what they really stand for is inherently anti-democratic. Democracy, at least as it's practiced in the United States, is based on the central premise that every vote is worth the same as every other -- every person, however rich or poor, has the same influence. Sure, there are disparities, notably that power and wealth provide more means to get your message out and persuade other people, but that is not on its own enough to overcome the sheer weight of numbers. Without some kind of trick or scam, a party that represents a small percentage of people can't possibly win against a party that represents the rest.

So what the Republicans have done as a means of subverting and defeating the central premise of democracy is this. They found a very large group of people with three key traits. They are numerous; they are fairly powerless; and, most importantly, they are naïve, ignorant, and thus, highly manipulable. The Republicans then figure out what those people think they want and promise it, even though they generally have no intention of actually delivering it. Family values? They make long speeches about it in between getting divorced and having affairs in public restrooms. They sell fear in every possible flavour and promises of addressing it while simultaneously promoting its causes. They use massive backing from corporate sponsors and overseas interests to methodically build "grass roots movements" and fool the very people in these movements into believing they're part of something that grew spontaneously out of indignation or determination. They push the idea that awareness and education are "elitism" as a means of perpetuating the ignorance on which their plan depends.

The end result is some 49% of Americans are consistently voting for their own worst interests and don't realize they're doing it. And not only have they been getting away with this for decades, and getting steadily better at it, they're so good at the scam that even the liberals tend to forget that's what they're doing from time to time, and treat them as the "opposition" as if they really did represent half of the nation's cultural divide, as if they really earned their place. It's bad enough we can't rescue the duped, ignorant 49% who don't realize they're selling themselves out, over and over. It's even worse that, from time to time, they fool us, too.

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