Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be

Is the Tiny GOP Prolonging Economic Woes to Political Gain?

90% of the news cycle is being sucked down by a GOP that actually represents only 23% of the voting public [1], or  roughly 13% of the total population in the U.S.[2]   How does the tiny partisan party prevail in their presidential putsch when only 12% of non-partisans even lean Republican?  The answer requires determination, malignant mendacity, and tanking the economy to the Republicans’ political benefit.

Just about one citizen in ten is a member of the GOP these days.  Less than half of a citizen, probably the upper half for the noise or the lower half for the stink, is a member of the far Right Tea Party. So how are they dominating state legislatures, the House of Representatives, and a big chunk of the United States Senate?

Our dogmatic drive to maintain a two party political system amplifies the minority party so much that, even when it becomes a tiny minority, as the GOP is now,  it carries more weight than it should.  The majority of conservative voters have walked away from the party. How can they be a majority party with a minority representation?

In any other country, the Republicans would have to form a coalition with more moderate political parties just to have a voice in government.  Mr. Boehner would not enjoy his lofty seat as Speaker of the House without forming a coalition with other parties.

Even as the GOP has become smaller it has taken the lessons of other far Right political machinery:  Put a strangle-hold on the “free” press and manipulate the media into doing your bidding.

How do they pull that off?

Newt Gingrich, in the late 1970s, led the way to the GOP’s dominance of the airwaves.

The Gingrich strategy is a two pronged attack: First demagogue the “elite liberal media.”  It’s the journalistic equivalent of the double-dog dare. You need to bend over backwards, or just bend over, Mr. Journalist, because we’re putting you on the defensive.

Then, after they have intimidated the press by calling them out on their “fairness,” they counter punch by catering to the media’s need for big balloon, hyperbolic sound bites with lots of quotes that are too compelling not to run. The New York Times identified the Gingrich Effect back in 1994:

“[Gingrich] is absolutist, aggressive, hyperbolic, informed, topical, unpredictable and studied in his use of supercharged symbolic language… Above all, he knows the value of stoking the public’s loathing of what he calls the ‘liberal media elite.'” [1]

Republicans also use access to control news flow.  Challenge a Republican on the air, and not only will that guest not be back, but you may have trouble getting any of them to come on to your show. Media Matters notes:

“[N]ext cycle we’ll see more and more Republicans who decide they’re also done talking to the press and will only sit down for Fox News and hold audience for the GOP Noise Machine. Obviously, the long-term implications for democracy here are alarming.” [2]

The GOP has made their manic hatred of the Government’s role in anything a daily part of the propaganda mantra of the Right-wing media.  Since the 1980s Republicans appropriated the AM radio band talk space, shoveling heavy doses of the evils of “big government.” Then Roger Ailes opened up shop at Fox News and gave Leni Refienstahl a run for her money in the propaganda department.

Since Mr. Obama has come to office, the extremes have coalesced further in the Republican party, and commandeered control of the media conversation, thereby taking control of the GOP.

“It is the fringe element of the Tea Party that controls the media-driven conversation, not the candidates. “It only takes the most vocal voice to carry the day in a symbolic movement that defines itself by mob rule. “The Tea Party thrives on the idea of a single Loud Citizen. Call it “Joe the Plumber” syndrome. [2]

Candidates and sitting politicians alike are hamstrung to make deals, to get the people’s business done, or appeal to the disaffected Republicans who are now independents.

The GOP Catch-22: Without the ability to maneuver politically, it is political suicide to cater solely to the 1/2 person that the Tea Party represents, yet it is political suicide to cut off the only remaining part of their base that turns out to canvas, run campaign offices, put down signs, and show up loudly to rallies.

To solve this problem, Republicans can only do one thing: Prolong our national misery.  In order to say “Throw out Mr. Obama,” they have to show that he can’t solve problems.

The only reason that he can’t solve problems, though, is because the Republicans have adopted an extreme zero-compromise policy with the Democrats.

Mr. Obama, during the debt ceiling talks, among many other examples, tosses out the GOP a carrot: He addresses any waste in Medicare spending, something which Republicans have wanted on the table for years. The response? Silence.  He puts a jobs bill together that has many precepts in it that Republicans have put into bills and sponsored themselves. They vote down proposals that they have made or legislation that they have sponsored themselves.


Republicans are doing everything that they can to keep the American public uncomfortable and miserable. An unhappy electorate is an anti-incumbent electorate.

Their hope is that the backlash will land against Mr. Obama, and also whipsaw the Tea Party, upon whom the GOP regulars will hang the government gridlock wrap.

The White House is always the big prize for Republicans, and old hard-liners like Mr. Boehner would like nothing more than to get a win at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and get rid of his Tea Party extremists.

Causing all of this suffering is a win-win for the Grand Old Party, even if it costs millions of Americans their homes and livelihoods, and takes millions more off of programs that help feed some of the families pushed below the poverty line. We spent trillions bailing out the same Wall Street firms that are spending their cash to give voice to the angry Teahadis who are doing the bidding of the very people whom they should be crying out to lock up and throw away the key.

The only reason that we give full-faith-and-credit to the opinions and desires of the Republican Party is because of what it used to be, not what it has become. Our two party system is out of whack because the GOP is not a majority party. It is a minority party.

We have to re-enfranchise the millions of former Republicans, moderate fiscal conservatives.  If the Teahadi-driven GOP says that the only real Republican is a social and fiscal extremist, maybe it is time to have a new moderate conservative party. Perhaps, even, a moderate liberal party as well.

A multi-party system would bust the gridlock we experience today, and would prevent the kind of extremist take-over of a major party that we are experiencing.

My shiny two.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian, filmmaker and chef. Ad hoc, ad loc, quid pro quo... so little time. So much to know!

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