At first, I thought our not-so-right-honorable-friends on the right had succumbed to a freakish outbreak of common sense. I thought that maybe, finally, the average workaday conservative was catching on to the fact that the Republican party doesn’t represent their interests. To the GOP’s upper management they are useful idiots and rubes; to its corporate sponsors they are just an irksome labor cost, the one half of the working class they’ve hired, to paraphrase nineteenth century robber baron Jay Gould, to vote against the other half (he said kill, but we’re not quite there yet). I was almost ready to open my arms, figuratively speaking, and the give them a nice warm welcome to the Land of Disillusionment where all of us progressives dwell. Instead I made the mistake of reading on.
In politics as in life, whenever you give someone the benefit of the doubt you usually wind up regretting it. That observation holds ture here. It turns out that grass roots Republicans haven’t passed through political (or emotional, or intellectual) adolescence yet. Far from it. They don’t have any intractable disagreements or deep ideological divisions with the party heads. Not at all. They just don’t like them because they’re too damn dull.
In North Carolina, retiree Robert Osborne is hoping New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will decide to run. In Indiana, farmer Brent Smith wishes Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour hadn’t backed away. In Georgia, stock clerk Susan Demarest would love to see somebody more like Ronald Reagan.
Ohio’s William Johnson just wants somebody who’s not a “cold fish.”
“I don’t expect them to get up there and start doing karaoke, but we need somebody with a little more spunk,” says the Columbus steelworker.
Lori Raney, who owns a drapery workroom in Canton, Ga., says she’s sure to vote for the party’s eventual nominee. But so far, she says, no standout candidate has emerged. She’d be happy to vote for somebody with a level head, but says a lot of voters demand something more.
“Nowadays, people don’t really care about qualifications and common sense,” she says. “They want the celebrity figure to run for president. Republicans just don’t have the celebrity-type figure.”
How confused and misguided can people be? Did they play with mercury or eat lead based-paint when they were kids? It’s as if too many years of Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, and Glenn Beck have melted their brains into a gunky, viscous goo; a puddle of liquid cerebral fat that’s useless for cognition but gives them the ability to make simple gestures and noisy gurgling sounds. This, in my own crude and cynical shorthand, is how these working class Republicans seem to think:
It really is amazing how so many people have been conned into voting against their own interests. It has to stand as one of the most remarkable triumphs of propaganda in history.
I want someone who will cut taxes for billionaire CEOs, eliminate welfare, cut unemployment benefits and ship American jobs overseas, but only if he’s not a cold fish.
I’m a stock clerk who makes eight dollars and hour. I wanna vote for a candidate who will bust unions and abolish the minimum wage, ensuring that I live in poverty forever. A real Ronald Reagan type. If only there was a spunky candidate for 2012 who would promise to do that.
I own a drapery workroom in Georgia. I want a solid conservative president who supports free trade policies that will put me out of business, but only if he’s a celebrity-type figure.
(Update: I just read that the Donald is not running, further diminishing the star quality of the Republican field. If this continues, these poor conservatives are just going to have to buckle up for four more years of Negroid socialism)