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Self Interest - Democrats still don't know what makes voters tick
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
November 8, 2003

Paul Krugman said that Howard Dean simply phrased it badly. When Dean said he wanted to reach out to guys who "fly confederate flags," he wasn't saying he was after the support of dumb racists with questionable loyalty to America. Krugman thinks that Dean meant that he and Democrats in general have to get guys like that to understand where their own best interests lie, and make sure they understand that Democrats would be a better choice to serve those interests.

Krugman, as usual, was right.

The ability of the elitist class warriors of the GOP to capture the Bubba vote is something that is going to puzzle historians for many years. Here is a party of social Darwinist plutocrats who are devoted, body and something, to comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted, and they are able to win the unwavering support of Bubba, who is making $20K a year, slightly less than he made in 1980, and who no longer has anything resembling decent medical coverage, and have him declare that liberalism the core of what makes America America is a socialist intellectual plot.

The fact is the Republicans have a gigantic game of bait-and-switch going, and through their well-funded propaganda machine, are running one of the biggest scams in history.

Examples? Let's look at so-called "partial birth abortion," a political term used to describe an emergency procedure done in the third trimester of a pregnancy when the life of the fetus has ended or the life of the mother is in imminent danger. A rare and tragic procedure, it's done most often because the mother is at risk of dying, or suffering severe injury. Like amputations and sterilizations, it's a procedure not done on healthy patients, and it's never done without a damned good reason.

Twice during Clinton's second term, he stated that he would sign a ban on these procedures provided they contained a stipulation that the health of the mother must be considered. In any normal society, this would be considered just, humane, and rational. In the GOP-controlled House and Senate it was unthinkable, and they promptly passed bills without such a provision, indeed going so far as to strip one bill of that provision, and Clinton vetoed them.

Putsch, being an unthinking and unfeeling clown, signed the same bill that Clinton wouldn't, and now courts are lining up coast to coast to strike it down as unconstitutional, because the government cannot order a doctor to refuse to provide a treatment that might save the life or health of a patient. In other words, the law is unconstitutional because it refuses to factor in the health of the mother.

Why would the GOP do this? Because the abortion issue is a great way to lead the fundies around by their collective noses, and pose as the party of morality and Christendom. The only trouble is, they don't want to lose abortion as a hook to keep the religious zanies in line, so they deliberately crafted a law that they knew Clinton wouldn't sign, or that the courts would strike down as unconstitutional.

They wanted an approach that would fail, because if they successfully ban abortion, they kill it as a political issue, and they don't want the zanies looking at where they stand on other issues.

Incidently, this also gives them the opportunity to characterize the courts as villains (always the courts, and never the Constitution they uphold; they don't quite dare attack that, and so they settle for saying it stands for the opposite of what it actually stands for). They know the zanies will never, ever, ask what happens if Congress passes a dumb law (oh, it could happen, it could happen...) and there are no courts to strike the law down. Just as they never ask what these voters could do if a corporation cheats them or sickens or injures them due to a defective product, and they can't sue due to the magic of "tort reform." Perhaps they can depend on the kindness of strangers.

The GOP are masters of bait and switch. By giving huge breaks to agri- business, they convinced small family farmers that the GOP was on their side when in fact the GOP was busily cheating them. They've pushed the "everyone can be rich" fable so hard that a fascinating poll taken earlier this year showed that 17% of all wage earners believed they were in the top ONE PERCENT of income. They pushed the so-called "death tax" (the estate tax, or what I prefer to call the "aristocrats' tax") so hard that people who have never seen $1.7 million in their whole lives are indignant over the fact that the "death tax" will cheat their children out of their vast estates of $500,000.

Bubba might be a yahoo, but he knows that the Republicans aren't sneering at him. They're robbing him blind and laughing like hell behind his back, but they aren't sneering at him for his racism and his Dixiecrat leanings.

Dean's right: the party needs to be able to approach Bubba and tell him that he's getting screwed by the GOP and HOW he's getting screwed by the GOP, and not be overcome by the vapors because Bubba's got a confederate flag decal on the side of his truck and a rifle rack in the rear winder. That shit just doesn't matter much. Just because Bubba has the confederate flag and the rifle rack doesn't mean Democrats are defiling themselves somehow by talking to him. In fact, neither of those elements are doing the Democrats a damn bit of harm, but slapping Bubba around for them is. Democrats like to talk about how Republicans are exclusionary idiots who chase people out of the party, and yet here they are, doing the same thing with Bubba.

The fact is, the GOP is screwing the country hollow, and Bubba is going to get the worst of it. He's what the rich white trash at the WSJ refer to as "a lucky ducky" someone who is poor and thus in a low tax bracket. He's the one who loses all his health benefits, who can't get good full-time work, who stands to lose his social security, his public schools, his good roads. The GOP waves the flag and the cross in front of his eyes and keeps him mesmerized. His kids will go to Iraq. (does anyone think Putsch curses fate every morning for making him President so he can't go over there and fight alongside Bubba's kids? Seriously?) It's the curse of the GOP that when their country calls, they've got pimples on their asses or bum knees they can only run ten miles a day upon, or bad shoulders that limit them to dead end careers quarterbacking in the NFL or some damned thing like that. It must be terribly frustrating.

Bubba is front and center, the biggest victim in the GOP's class war against America. He should be the Democrats' strongest ally. But Democrats are sticking their noses in the air because they don't like the confederate flag, or gun racks and then they can't figure out why Bubba votes Republican.

The fact of the matter is, Republicans are far more contemptuous of Bubba than the snottiest of Democrats could ever be. But the Republicans are very smooth liars, and they don't mind using Bubba, playing him like a toy drum.

Democrats don't have to slide to the level of the Republicans to approach Bubba. Democrats, at least, aren't out to turn Bubba into a consumer unit in a corporate fascist state. They can approach Bubba openly, on his own terms, and appeal honestly to his own best interests. They don't even have to play bait-and-switch games, like the GOP does when they exploit Bubba's religious sensibilities.

Dean figured it out, but picked a really stupid way of saying it. And he got pasted for it.

But in the end, I think he gained more from it than those who blasted him.

He's figured out something the others seem to be missing. He knows what makes Bubba tick.

2003 Topplebush.com
Posted: November 9, 2003


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