Friday, January 17, 2003

Digby (thanks for the link) has two excellent posts up this morning. One is a delightful skewering of the way the establishment press talks about politics. The other is a thoughtful rant on Bush's decision to oppose the Michigan affirmative action program.
Democrats have to recognize that the “compassionate conservative” agenda is Bush’s Achilles heel. Republicans don’t really believe in compassion as a governing principle. They think compassion enables dependency. Their operating principle is self-sufficiency. But, the GOP cannot win national elections with religious conservatives, CEO’s and white male gun owners alone. They’d like to say to hell with all this caring and sharing bullshit but they can’t because those swinging suburban women expect the government to do things to affirmatively better the lives of citizens who need help and that includes racial minorities. The Republicans don’t expect to win non-white votes, but they have to win a few of those whites who are sympathetic to the cause and it’s not easy with the confederates expecting Bush to honor the unspoken promise that if they stay quiet, he'll deliver.
I think one of the fundamental mistakes the Democrats have made in recent years is to assume that when a Republican talks about "caring" they mean it in the same way that they do. Republican ideology holds as a principle that people are best off when left to manage their own destinies. To "care" for someone means to free them from the outside influences of government. Thus, to the Republican mindset, cutting off government benefits is compassionate since it releases them from the bonds of slavery to the state. It's called "tough love". Rove and company are smart enough to know that this philosophy doesn't sell very well to the middle-class white suburbanites. So they obfuscate the issue with ambiguities about exactly what they mean by "compassionate conservatism". They fool them into thinking that what the Republicans are offering is the same kind of "caring" that the Democrats are offering, with the added benefit that they will offer it without all that pesky government interference that everyone complains so much about. Less fat, tastes great!
[The Republicans] have a problem and, in my opinion, from a strategic as well as a principled standpoint the Democrats should dig at that scab every time they try to cover it over. It is an internal inconsistency that makes them vulnerable.
I have said that the Democrats need to expose any attempts the Republicans make to woo the sheetheads. The GOP knows that their public image of compassion would suffer tremendously if held up side-by-side with their private efforts to appease the cockroaches. This is why they were so quick to eject Lott. It was the closest they have come to that particular nightmare becoming a reality.
And substantively, this whole issue is a crock. The country is veritably overwhelmed with unfair practices, from absurd drug laws to rich people buying their way out of trouble to corporations draining pension funds to red-lining to off shore tax dodges and the list goes on and on and on. We Democrats spend our lives decrying the inequality of opportunity that pervades the entire system – a progressive’s raison d’etre is to try to level the playing field. So, how absurd it is that this particular "unfairness" is such a rallying cry for Republicans, seeing as they normally consider such concerns to be examples of weak individuals who aren’t tough enough to “suck it up” “get on with it” “work harder and stop whining.”
When the Democrats try to hold the Republicans accountable for Southern-Strategy inspired politicking the GOP tries to cover up for it by screaming about political correctness and government interference. But, if you examine the pattern of issues that Republicans choose as their focus, it inevitably brings into question their true egalitarian leanings.
It is beyond comprehension that in a country with a 300 year history of slavery, apartheid and discrimination against racial minorities (that clearly persists to this day) the single most important equal rights issue presently on the table is the case of a relative handful of white people who maintain that they were unfairly denied access to the college of their choice because racial minorities were granted a small advantage roughly equal to that of a football lineman or an alumni’s idiot offspring. This is the country's burning civil rights issue that must be taken all the way to the Supreme Court, again and again and again?
Sure it is. When Republicans respond with as much outrage and passion to something like this and like this then maybe I’ll believe that they are acting out of conviction. Until then, I have to assume that the fact that the only time they get worked up about discrimination is when they perceive it to be toward white people means that they are doing what they have been doing since 1968 --- pandering to losers who are so primitive that they believe their problems would all be solved if it weren’t for those uppity blacks, lazy Mexicans and ugly women stealing away all their opportunities in life.


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