Republicans have thoroughly captured our political discourse. Right wing dogma has trickled down to the lowest depths of our society and saturates the very air we breath, so much so that your average, everyday, non-political working Joe accepts conservative talking points as truisms: cutting taxes creates jobs; we need a president who will run the country like a business; public employees and illegal aliens are living like Russian czars on the tax payer’s dime; global warming probably isn’t happening. On the other hand, Democrats are bad for small business and want to raise taxes, and they are weak on foreign policy and soft on crime to boot.
You know the drill. Everyone does. It is the incessant background noise of our political lives. It is relentless and inescapable. It never sleeps. It is forever hounding and haranguing us from day clean to dusk. Every barber, mechanic, grocery clerk, cab driver and garbage man in the country can stand on one foot and recite the entire conservative catechism before you can say “low-information voter.”
Why is that? Why is the Republican world view the default position of so many people, even non-political people? Because that’s all they hear. They aren’t exposed to any cogent counterarguments. When things go bad, people latch on to whatever ideas happen to be circulating around. It just so happens that the ideas swirling around our culture are thoroughly and unabashedly right-wing.
I live in a poor area. There is a thin strata of granola eating hippy liberal types, but the most common demographic is poor working class whites. They mostly work in the service sector and the construction trades. Most of them don’t think about politics much at all. Some are outright rednecks. In general, their thoughts don’t venture beyond the immediate concretes of their environment: work, eat, drink beer, screw, buy lottery tickets, fantasize about sports cars, sleep. But bring up a political topic, any political topic, and the response you’ll get is pure Bill O’Reilly.
These people should be agitating for higher wages, unionization, universal health care. In short, they should be the natural constituency for a genuine populist agenda. But they aren’t, because no such agenda is on the radar, and the fault lies squarely with the Democratic party.
The leadership of the Democratic party doesn’t believe in a genuine populist agenda. They sold it out for corporate cash and now they don’t have a moral leg to stand on. Since they have no true convictions, they can’t develop a sincere and appealing core message to compete against the Republican propaganda machine. They are greedy, weak and corrupt, and they get their asses whipped by tin horn lunatic bullies who, if nothing else, have the virtue of at least sounding like they believe in something.
If the Democratic party can’t manage to beat a clay eating dolt like Joni Ernst, what use are they as a political party?
Say what you want, the conservatives push and fight for a set of beliefs. The fact that these beliefs are thoroughly noxious and will turn the country into third world oligarchy is beside the point. The important thing is that they fight and the Democrats don’t. The Republicans are out on the street swinging knives and bicycle chains. The Democrats stutter and sputter like Elmer Fudd about grand b-b-b-bargains and entitlements c-c-c-cuts, and b-b-b-bipartisanship. And please don’t call them liberal, it hurts their feelings and they won’t get invited on Meet the Press anymore.
Mr. Laid-Off construction worker sits on his porch drinking Natural Ice and wondering what the hell happened to his life. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly take the time to tell him. What they say is dangerous and ignorant nonsense, mind you, but bad explanations are better than no explanations at all. They give him tangible reasons for his woe and hold up targets for his rage.
Meanwhile, the Democrats, ever fearful of offending their corporate donors and Wall Street pay masters, wiggle around in search of “market friendly” solutions to our malaise. It hasn’t worked. It doesn’t work. It never will work. But don’t expect Hillary’s campaign strategists to figure that out.