This article appeared on the website Evil GOP Bastards.
Where Do We Go From Here?
By Jack Hughes
As the shock of the 2016 election results sink-in and the reality of total Republican control of the federal government along with an increasing majority of states, progressives are now, at long last, forced to assess what has happened and plan where to go from here.
We must recognize that the Democratic Party is now utterly and completely powerless to prevent Republicans from steam-rolling their radical agenda through Congress. Anyone expecting Senate Democrats to filibuster Republican legislation still doesn’t appreciate the nature of the Republican opposition or their current position of total political domination. After abusing the parliamentary tactic for the eight years of the Obama administration, Republicans will eliminate the filibuster the moment it becomes politically inconvenient.
Since the Gingrich Revolution, Republicans have not been the “loyal opposition.” They have violated every norm and every tradition — at least since the Civil War — of American politics and civil behavior. They have completely abandoned actual policy and governance in favor of shameless pandering to know-nothings and kooks, and using egregiously dishonest propaganda. For instance, every time Republicans use the terms “tax cut” and “balanced budget” in the same sentence they are knowingly committing political fraud. Right-wing propaganda has been so dishonest — and so pervasive — that the Republican base has become immune to historical facts, scientific data and rational discourse.
For Republicans, politics has become total political war. Democrats have not understood this simple fact, which is why they — we — have continued to lose. What is meant by political total war? Consider it a cold civil war, or as Bill Maher described it, a slow-moving coup.
Against the Democrats’ traditional politics of issue advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts, Republicans have deployed a generation-long saturation campaign of dishonest propaganda that bears the hallmarks of a domestic psychological warfare operation; vote suppression and “voter caging” to reduce Democratic voter turnout; extreme gerrymandering to concentrate Democratic majorities into fewer numbers of congressional and legislative districts; and naked politicization of the courts.
Due to the Republicans’ “scientific” gerrymandering, Democrats routinely receive millions more votes, but are consistently consigned to minority status in the House of Representatives.
It gets worse. There is every indication — since exit polling is the only means to verify election results in the era of paperless electronic voting — of extensive Republican election theft. Does anyone seriously believe that the radicals who engage in sleazy anti-democratic vote suppression in full public view would balk at tampering with election results behind closed doors?
Yet Democratic Party officials — even the stunned losing candidates — refuse to even consider the possibility of election theft as they passively watch predicted victories unexpectedly and mysteriously transformed into defeats where Republicans control the vote counts. The ramifications are far too serious to ignore.
These measures, i.e., extreme gerrymandering, vote-suppression and suspicious deviations between exit polls and official results that always favor Republicans, have led to de facto minority rule. Minority rule is tyranny — the real kind — not the phony hyperbole that Republicans dishonestly bleat about whenever a Democrat manages to get elected.
What is the objective of all these sleazy anti-democratic tactics? In short, the establishment of corporate feudalism; to reduce the American middle class to low-paid, politically powerless peasants. The Big Money interests that finance the Republican Party and its propaganda machine don’t love guns or hate abortion or despise homosexuals. Those issues are just a means to mobilize the rubes into voting against their own economic interests.
The middle-class fools who loyally vote Republican year after year have been brainwashed into mindlessly blaming Democrats for their decline in prosperity while our country has adopted “conservative” low-tax (for the rich) low-service (for everybody else) economic policies. Enjoy your toll roads and sky-rocketing tuition rates and health-care costs, suckers. Republicans are going to try to steal your Social Security and Medicare next.
So where do we go from here?
First, progressives must realize that 21st Century politics is now primarily a propaganda war to capture the limited attention span of low-information voters. The plutocrats have invested billions of dollars in a vertical network of foundations, policy institutes and think tanks, i.e., propaganda shops, to carefully craft cleverly deceptive over-simplifications, half-truths, distortions, and outright lies, along with a horizontal network of blogs, websites, radio shows and cable-TV channels to disseminate them. There is no similar advocacy structure for the interests of the poor and middle classes. This must change starting with — at a minimum — central coordination of consistent, coherent, and most of all sustained, policy messaging for progressives to deliver with a unified voice and common rhetoric. Simplicity and repetition is the key to successful propaganda.
Second, Democrats are still bringing a book bag to a gun fight. The news media won’t risk being branded as “biased” by exposing Republican lies. It’s up to the Democrats to do it — which means not just politely refuting dishonest Republican talking points — but explicitly shaming right-wing PR flacks and politicians as “dirty goddam liars” by name and to their faces on national TV. Republicans must be forced on the defensive.
Third, there is no reason for voters to turn out for “corporate Democrats” or “Conserva-Dems” owned by the same lobbyists and special interests that own the Republicans. The era of Blue Dog Democrats is over. Democrats must be divorced completely from special interests, freeing themselves to boldly inform voters that they’ve been deceived and screwed by Republican politicians and their oligarch masters. Democratic politicians can no longer simply present themselves to voters as “not Republicans.” It’s political suicide. Democrats must provide a truly progressive alternative.
Fourth, street protests accomplish nothing when they are not tied to specific political objectives. In fact, they are often counter-productive when undisciplined and surge out of control — used in right-wing propaganda to attack progressives and progressive ideals. Far more productive would be if those protestors dedicated five dollars a month — or more — to the Democratic Party and volunteered their time at the local party level. An influx of idealistic activists would re-build the Democratic Party into a more aggressive — and much more progressive — political party.
These strategies must be enacted immediately, starting at the state party level — especially in Red States — and in time to affect the 2018 mid-term elections. Failure to do so will mean further Republican entrenchment, making it even more difficult to oust them from power. Success won’t be immediate, but sooner or later, consistent and sustained progressive messaging will begin to penetrate the political consciousness of America’s low-info voters.
The time for timid, apologetic, progressivism is done. Only aggressive “Mad Dog Democrats” can reverse the current Republican strangle-hold on American politics and restore prosperity and justice to America.
The most important consideration in total political war is to recognize the fact that we’re engaged in one. Even in the “post-factual” environment Republicans have manufactured, there is no more powerful political weapon than the truth. If America is to survive as a liberal democracy, progressives must make Republicans choke on it.