If you follow American politics, you might be wondering what the Republican Party is up to. They seem to be courting defeat in 2012. You know and I know that the Republicans’ mission is to promote the interests of the wealthiest Americans and the large global corporations at the expense of the rest of us. But the party’s leaders usually make an effort to disguise their agenda – or at least distract voters with red herring issues.
Now, they have abandoned any attempt to hide their objectives. Across America, Republican governors and legislators are attacking organized labor, laying off teachers, firefighters and law enforcement officers, and giving corporations huge tax cuts. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives are savaging Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment insurance and food stamps, and otherwise dismantling the safety net that Democrats have managed to put in place over the years.
And it doesn’t seem to matter that poll after poll shows their policies are wildly unpopular.
I was puzzled by this blatant disregard for public opinion until I remembered last year’s Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited campaign spending by corporations.
Republicans have discovered that with enough money and the help of clever public relations pros they can persuade voters to put them in power despite their abusive policies.
They know they can count on the single-issue voters – the anti-abortion crowd, the gun nuts, the racists… And they obviously believe they can convince a lot of other Americans to fear the Democrats. By spreading lies about President Obama, by characterizing progressives as “socialists” and making up scare stories about Canadian and British health care, by creating bogeymen out of thin air to frighten the dimwitted, they believe they can win the Senate and possibly the White House in 2012.
And that’s not all.
They will have unlimited cash to swamp the airwaves and the Internet with scurrilous assaults on Democratic candidates.
They will blacken the reputations of their opponents, digging up dirt wherever they can find it and making up stories when there’s nothing to find. Their agents will sneak about, taping conversations and editing them to create a false impression, as they did with ACORN and PBS. They will recruit liars to assassinate the characters of candidates, as they did with John Kerry.
They will spread this trash across the Internet and funnel it through Fox News as if it were genuine information. And they will buy ads in the mainstream media. Lots and lots of ads – without financial restraint.
You might say well why don’t the Democrats do the same? But Democrats usually have more scruples, and they will have a lot less money.
The way I see it, the 2012 election campaign will test the validity of democracy, not only in America but in any country that balks at setting limits on campaign spending.
I can only hope that enough American voters see what’s really happening despite the deluge of lies to which they will be submitted.