It’s not surprising that Republicans oppose the Obama Administration – they want to suck up to the rich by maintaining the status quo. And it’s not surprising that they lie – this is, after all, the Party that created the fictional Iraqi atomic bomb threat so they would have a winning issue in the 2002 mid-term elections. What is surprising is that they’ve been so successful. Why are Republican supporters so enthusiastic when they’ve been force-fed a diet of BS?
The Republican master plan is hauntingly reminiscent of Hitler’s Big Lie philosophy: “Never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” It’s based on the immoral stance: “the ends justify the means.”
During the 2009 Presidential campaign, the GOP big lie program started rumors that Obama had not been born in the US, was a Muslim, and palled around with terrorists. It worked! A recent Louis Harris poll of Republicans found that 67 percent “believe that Obama is a socialist.” 57 percent “believe that Obama is a Muslim.” 45 percent believe that Obama “was not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president."
Once Obama became President, the Republican propaganda machine claimed Democrats were responsible for the financial collapse – that stemmed from Bush era mismanagement – and favored bailouts for Wall Street because Obama was a liberal elitist.
During the yearlong healthcare debate, the GOP lie machine generated a series of nasty falsehoods: “death panels,” Washington bureaucrats interfering with the doctor-patient relationship, seniors losing Medicare coverage, and so forth. Meanwhile, Republican Senators feigned cooperation, dragging on deliberations with the intent of killing the healthcare bill by attrition.
Now Republicans – guided by conservative pollster Frank Luntz – are opposing financial reform with another big lie assault: the Democratic plan would produce future bailouts, create a massive government bureaucracy, and stifle small businesses.
During the past fifteen months, the Tea Party developed, a faux movement bankrolled by archconservatives such as the Koch brothers, in order to mobilize resentment among hard-core Republicans who’d been turned off by the McCain campaign. They serve the same function for the GOP in the US that the Basij volunteers do for Ahmadinejad in Iran. They hassle the opposition, pal around with militias, and serve as a conduit for relentless negativism. Tea Party activists swallow the Republican lies, hook, line, and sinker.
There are five reasons for their energy and gullibility: First, none of them voted for Obama, so it’s easy for them to believe he won by cheating and to blame him for everything that’s gone wrong since – including The Great Recession that had its roots in the Bush Administration. A recent NEW YORK TIMES Tea Party poll found that 57 percent of Tea Party adherents – most of whom are Republicans – had a favorable opinion of former President Bush. Only 7 percent had a favorable opinion of President Obama.
Second, it’s easier to attack public policy than it is to propose practical solutions. Republicans malign the Democratic financial reform plan because they don’t have any alternatives. Meanwhile, Tea Party adherents are angry about the way things are going in Washington and want to reduce the size of government; 90 percent believe “the country is headed in the wrong direction.”
Third, Republicans have historically played to the myth of “rot at the top,” and it’s convenient to do this again. Tea Party adherents hate the bailouts, see the economy as “very bad,” and blame Congress, Wall Street, and the Obama Administration. They oppose financial reform because they don’t trust the Federal government.
Fourth, in his classic political study What’s the Matter with Kansas Tom Frank noted that fiscal conservatives – favoring deregulation and lower taxes – constantly bamboozle social conservatives – favoring social issues such as abortion and gay rights – by using the theme of victimization. They blame America’s problems on the “’liberal elite,’ … they eschew economic reasons in favor of accusing this elite of simply hating America, or having a desire to harm ‘average’ Americans.” The big liars are using victimization again: 77 percent of Tea Party adherents see Obama as “very liberal,” 89 percent feel he has expanded the power of government “too much,” and 92 percent believe he is moving the country towards socialism.
Finally, there’s the role of race. Barack Obama is America’s first African-American President and the Tea Party movement has become a haven for racists. 89 percent of Tea Party adherents are white; 52 percent believe “too much has been made of the problems facing black people,” and 25 percent believe Obama “favors blacks over whites.”
The Republican big lie campaign is immoral. It’s fomenting class and racial conflict. It’s created a Washington environment where GOP politicians have abandoned America’s long-term interests for short-term political gain.
It’s time to call out the Republican big lie strategy. It’s un-American.
Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org