In trying to sort out how an ass clown, man-child, sexual predator, conspiracy theorist, racist chauvinist was elected President of the United States one only needs to look at two factors. First, his opponent, despite years of planning and virtually unlimited sums of money, failed to adequately excite and motivate her base of voters. And two, the Republican strategy of voter disenfranchisement and wedge-issue fear mongering was just barely successful enough to win. How did this happen?
In my recent post “Welcome to La Resistance American” I briefly touched on the Republican election strategy of DIVIDE AND CONQUER and how it has been successful not only in polarizing the American electorate but in allowing Republicans to literally take over our political system with a minority of voters!
To their credit, all of this has been done legally, with strategic planning, aggressive politics and boatloads of dark money. Democrats have been caught with their knickers down. They have shamefully offered little to no resistance. La Resistance American is calling for voters to take matters into our own hands.
Let’s start by understanding how the Republicans have succeeded in their DIVIDE AND CONQUER strategy.
PART ONE: WEDGE ISSUES, THE GREAT ILLUSION
Back in the mid-Nineties, after the young, Democrat upstart Bill Clinton defeated George HW Bush in the 1992 election, the Republicans became horrified by two phenomenon. First, the seemingly unassailable Reagan/Bush political juggernaut had collapsed and secondly, demographers began showing shifting patterns in the American electorate indicating that in the decades to come, the greatest growth in the voting population would come from women, youth and minorities, in particular, Latinos/Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians — groups that overwhelmingly vote Democrat.
The Republicans realized that unless they took drastic action they were in danger of becoming a permanent minority party. Many conservative leaders suggested the way forward was to change their policies and become more sympathetic to women and minority voters. But others, in particular the likes of Newt Gingerich, Wayne LaPierre, James Dobson, Bill Krystal and Karl Rove, rejected any idea of compromise and instead insisted Republicans should double down on white, elitist, Christian policies; whip up their base and work at a grassroots level to win district by district, state congresses, governorships and the legislative and executive branches of the Federal government.
Wedge Issue #1: Snake Charm The Evangelicals
The first target group was Christian voters, a group known to vote regularly and with very high turnout. Christian voters were already largely in the Republican fold following the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and Rowe v. Wade of 1970. But the furor over those issues had somewhat subsided during the intervening decades. Republicans reignited the abortion issue as well as invoking a new strategy, portraying Christianity as a persecuted institution, under attack from immoral Liberals and Government. But in fact Christians are still an overwhelming majority and having immense power and influence.
Wedge Issue #2: Liberals Are Goin’ To Take Your Guns Away!
Another group that was easy to whip up were gun owners and NRA members. As recently as 1990, Republican Demi-God Ronald Reagan endorsed gun-control legislation known as the Brady Law (named after his trusted friend and former Press Secretary who was shot and paralyzed in an assassination attempt on Reagan years earlier). The law, finally passed in 1993 with bipartisan support, established federal background and criminal records check prior to purchasing firearms. Then in 1994 Reagan, along with former Presidents Gerald Ford (R) and Jimmy Carter (D) jointly wrote a letter to Congress supporting a ban on assault and military style weapons as well as extended ammunition clips. With the help of that letter a 10 year ban narrowly passed.
Yet less than a decade later, Republicans had sold gun owners and office holders on the idea that anyone who supported or voted for any form of gun control was not a true Conservative or true American and that Democrats and Liberals were spearheading a vast conspiracy to take away everyone’s guns. Since then the assault weapon ban has failed to be renewed and no significant gun control legislation has made it thru Congress. The real truth is that there has been Democratic administrations for 16 out of the last 24 years and, unfortunately, there are more guns than ever.
Wedge Issue #3: Illegals Are Stealing Your Jobs And Raping Your Women!
During the economic good times of the 1990’s illegal immigration to the U.S. increased almost 2.5 times. There was another surge in the mid 2000 decade. Our immigration policies and enforcement then as now are clearly inadequate and archaic. Instead of working with Democrats to develop comprehensive and effective immigration laws and security, Republicans have refused to do anything except spread fear, prejudice and hatred toward all, especially dark-skinned, immigrants. Immigrants have unfairly become the scapegoats for all of America’s ills: unemployment, crime, drugs and having to press 1 for English and 2 for Spanish when calling your cable provider.
Rather than having sensible, practical and comprehensive laws governing immigration, many Republicans now call for building a 3000 mile border wall and for the round-up, incarceration and deportation of between 12 and 20 million potential illegals.
The real truth is that during the Obama administration, illegal immigration actually declined slightly, deportations increased, border security was increased, crimes committed by illegals continue to be far below the averages for US citizens and immigrants play an important role in the US economy, taking menial and lower paying jobs that Americans refuse to do.
Wedge Issues #4: “Illegal” Drugs.
President Tricky Dick Nixon (R) started the “War On Drugs” back in the early 1970’s out of irrational “Reefer Madness” fear and wedge issue value. The war has been a complete and costly failure. It has help create the rise of powerful drug cartels in Mexico, Columbia and Afghanistan and the flow of illegal drugs into this country never stopped increasing. Our archaic drug laws, mostly championed by Conservatives, have caused a rapid and rise in incarceration rates, involving a highly disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos. Today, Blue States are liberalizing or eliminating drug laws, especially for marijuana, and finding it to be a win-win situation– huge tax revenue bonanzas and much lower law enforcement, judicial and incarceration costs. Red States resist and still consider possession of even relatively small amounts of illegal drugs to be a felony.
Wedge Issue #5: LBGT Rights.
Conservative fear of the LBGT community has to be one of the most disgusting and hypocritical wedge issues. At least African American, Latino and bi-racial couples can get married and having spousal and survivor rights as long as a man marries a woman. But if Conservatives had their way, two men or two women or someone who was born a man or woman and now considers themselves to be the opposite sex could not get married and could not have spousal or survivorship rights. Furthermore they would be denied service at a business owners discretion, could not have jobs in many fields, especially anything that puts them in direct contact with children and worst of all, could not even have consensual adult sex!
Where in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is there an “Exception Clause” that gives anyone the right to openly discriminate, without legitimate legal cause, against any group or individual citizen?? Do we live in a free country or not? Only in the darkest, most twisted and unpatriotic Conservative mind is it ok to deny equal rights to groups of US citizens because you don’t approve of their lifestyle, sexual preferences, skin color, accent or choices. You can’t claim to be persecuted Christians yet insist on your right to persecute others.
Republican monied interests are manipulating their voters to turn us against one another for their gain.
Wedge Issue #6: We Don’t Trust Facts, Science Or Smart People
And let’s not forget that Republicans have deliberately spawned a mistrust of science, facts, credible news sources and the government in general. Concepts like climate change is a hoax; more guns make for greater security; social welfare is bad but corporate welfare is ok; regulations on energy, financial, chemical and pharmaceutical companies are unnecessary and restrict their profits are not supported by any reasonable, verifiable data and are, in fact, deterimental to the well being of American (and world) society.
This strategy coincides with Conservative attempts to defund, discredit and generally ignore America’s public school system. Their plan is simple: Conservative causes are more successful when voters are under educated, poorly informed with facts, skeptical of science and are brain-washed into believing that government is just “out to git ya”.
The Magic Trick Has Worked.
What’s the real purpose behind this flagrant use of wedge issues? It’s like a magician’s trick — they distract you with (often phony) wedge issues to conceal the real trick — keeping the masses relatively poor, uneducated, working for peanuts on the hamster wheel so that a very small cadre of white men can make millions and billions of dollars, manipulate markets, bribe politicians, live above the law — all without the masses rising up in revolt and slitting their throats. So far the trick has worked.
But without the spin and manipulation of politicians, we as Americans can probably come to some compromise agreement on religious freedom, abortion, contraception, gun laws, immigration policy, LBGT rights, climate change, beneficial regulations on business and drug policy. It’s something that we, the people, should work on together and, if necessary, without Congress and without the great divider, Predator Drumpf. But that is not in Republican politician’s interest. They need wedge issues to maintain power and control.
La Resistance American calls on all voters to carefully select and vote for politicians that reject the use of exaggerated wedge issues and fear-mongering as political tactics. We must elect office holders that emphasize truth and facts (as much as possible), who are transparent in their political and financial agendas, and vow to serve the people over their own narrow self-interests. Republicans voters can join us in this quest, in which case we can insist on a compromised approach to wedge issues that strike a healthy, workable balance for the vast majority of Americans. Or Republican voters can continue to be driven by fear and paranoia, in which case we, the majority, are going to turn out in overwhelming numbers over and over for decades to come and there will be much less compromise. It’s not an idle threat. We have the numbers, and we will motivate them to go to the polls.
Coming Soon: The Successful Republican Election Strategy … Divide and Conquer Part 2: Voter Disenfranchisement and How the Majority Retakes Control.