What Does The GOP Stand To Gain?

In the last few days, there has been a rash of reports commenting on the Republican Party’s apparent embrace of violent terminology. You can read about it lots of places, but in case you somehow missed it, here’s an example.

So there appears to be a trend, not necessarily amongst all Republicans (I still like to dream that there are a few fiscal conservatives cowering beneath the onslaught of Moral Imperatives Activists and Obama Is A Fascist lunatics), but certainly amongst some of their most prominent and loud-mouthed representatives. And the contingent of the blogosphere which likes to think of itself as Sensibly Liberal has made the predictable response: they’ve gone into mama-next-door mode and begun worrying about the future of the neighborhood. They’re concerned, and perhaps rightfully so, that one of these days some teabagger out there somewhere is going to stop throwing bricks through windows and pick up a gun.

That could happen. Certainly, there are enough fanatical lunatics out of our 308,956,488 or so people that one or more of them are statistically likely to tumble over the edge any minute. But what I find curious is that no one seems to be asking the obvious question: what does the GOP stand to gain by not condemning language which seems formulated to encourage violent responses?

Let’s assume that most high-level Republicans actually do not want to see President Obama or any Democratic political representative killed. This assumption has nothing to do with their moral character, their moral character is irrelevant. What is relevant is the likelihood that assassinating a high-level Democratic leader would backfire. The Democrats would, of course, be justifiably outraged. The Independents are likely to suddenly decide that maybe one party actually is more apeshit than the other. And don’t forget that quiet little segment of the Republicans, the one that’s wondering how the hell their party got hijacked by these fundamentalists and is just trying to hang in there until the Universe rights itself. They might just decide to get the hell out and start a party that actually represents their interests.

So if the GOP doesn’t actually want people killed, what are they doing?

They’re playing on basic psychology. For years, they have painted the Democrats as pussies. Little, bleeding heart liberals that want to give milk and cookies to the terrorists. Mama’s boys who want to take away their guns because they’re scared they might get hurt. The Republicans, on the other hand, are stalwart pioneers, holding fast to the values that made this country great, and not taking shit off anyone. Basically, they’re engaging primitive tribal impulses by saying “Stick with us, kid. We’re strong, we’re survivors. That other tribe is going to fall into cannibalism any day now, just you watch.”

Democrats have never been good at playing this game. They take umbrage and try to argue that they never said any such thing, that they just want to make the world a better place, blah blah blah. They don’t address the gut fears that the Republicans like to play upon, they just try to make reasonable arguments about why the fears are counterproductive. They apologize when they are insulted. It’s weird, but beyond that it plays right into the GOP’s tactics. Because nobody wants to be on the losing side.

Having lost in the last national election, the Republicans had to do something to shore up confidence in their tribe or risk losing members. So they brought out the tea party notion, completely misappropriated and bastardized, but it didn’t matter…the tribe had something to believe in. Note well…they didn’t have to think about it, they just had to believe. And that got them through that tricky first year after losing control of the government. But then, after a long, seemingly losing battle, the Democrats pulled out a so-called “victory” with health care “reform”. Whatever you may think of the bill, the Republicans had drawn a line in the sand and this was just not supposed to happen. So what to do? Ratchet up the rhetoric. Remind the constituents that they are the strong ones, they are the ones not afraid to “go out and fight”. Whatever may have happened, it’s still our strong tribe against those pussy Democrats, and you know we can always take them if we want to. Hell, those sons of bitches don’t even own guns, do they?

It’s a pity the Democrats were scared to say “you know, there’s really no reason you need to bring a gun to a political rally.” It’s too bad they couldn’t bring themselves to set up a “Fun With Waterboarding Day” on the White House lawn, so that anyone who wanted to could try it, and then indicate whether or not they thought the U.S. Government should be using it as a form of interrogation. It’s rather sad they couldn’t bring themselves to say “Seriously? You’re listening to that fucking idiot?” after Sarah Palin “informed” the nation that health care reform would mean “Death Panels” which would kill their grandparents. I suppose they’re not likely to respond to the current rash of death threats with “Only scaredy cats go around waving their gun in the air. Don’t you have a tea party to get to?” But it sure would be nice, just for a change of pace.

On the other hand, maybe the Dems are out-strategizing the GOP. If the Republicans don’t reign in their dogs soon, one of them really is likely to take a shot. When that happens, the Democrats can finally rest assured of another six years in office.

2 thoughts on “What Does The GOP Stand To Gain?

  1. What is the Republican base thinking? “Thinking” is too strong a word (that should be a joke but this is all about emotion not reason) — they’re reacting to a shift in the social fabric of the nation, one that’s left them behind. The country has moved on from the greed-and-sell-the-farm 80’s, with that decade’s attempt to relive the white-picket-fence pre-enlightenment 1950’s on money borrowed from China. Well, it’s *finally* moved on, despite Bush Jr’s revisit of the cold war in the form of the GWOT. [NB more accurately it’s ready to move on. Whether it does so probably depends on how strong a grip the reactionary media has on the zeitgeist.]

    That Republican heartland is, as best I can work out, the dispossessed. Those who lost their jobs when Reagan and Bush and Bush sold them out. Those who don’t accept that their parents and grandparents narrow, triumphalist and frankly bigoted view of the world hasn’t made sense since 1920 and almost certainly didn’t make sense then either. But like fundamentalists the world over, they cling to their ideology because it makes them feel special and pure and right — and angry about it.

    That’s why anger is the key to the teabaggers. Anger based on entitlement based on years of propaganda which stroked their feelings of moral and cultural superiority. That’s how you get people to vote against their own interests. What the GOP can’t figure out, now things have come to this pass, is how to maintain the con trick which brought Joe the Plumber on-side but without turning away every voter with a brain.

    I think how well they succeed is going to depend on how many voters have brains.

    This is very much what you’ve said above. The Democrat’s side of the equation is fascinating, though, and I have no ideas. I hope you’re right about the strategizing and it’s not just that they’re paralyzed by lobbyists and age.

  2. Well, I don’t know if it’s strategy or just another example of the Dems taking the wrong tack (time will tell), but here’s what appears to be their response:

    In a nutshell, they drafted a “Civility Truce” which seems to have essentially said that folks shouldn’t use or encourage violence to reach political ends. The Republicans refused to sign it.

    Running with my argument, then, I suppose they were afraid that signing a truce would make them appear weak. After all, who signs a truce when they’re winning?

    On the other hand, refusing the sign is sure to be brought up if some loon decides to take a pop shot.

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