The Thinker

Republicans win through intimidation

My post Psychiatrists agree: Republicans are insane still gets plenty of reads. “Plenty” is a relative word for a blog of modest traffic like mine but it was read 597 times in the last year and is the fifteenth most popular entry on my site. According to Facebook it has been “liked” 29 times since I added the “like” widget some months back, even though it was written two years ago. With a certain group, the post really resonates. Glad to hear it.

In thinking about it though, certainly not all Republicans are insane. There are generally two types of Republicans: the insane and the mendacious. The insane Republicans are the ones that swallow hook, line and sinker the propaganda broadcast continuously by Fox News and other conservative outlets. These folks are insane for the exact reasons I outlined in the post: because they lead the sort of life where evidence, if it contradicts their political philosophy, simply has no bearing. They are sheep. The mendacious ones are some subset of the leadership. They understand that most of what they believe is not evidenced-based but they simply don’t care. Moreover, they are completely comfortable with lying shamelessly. These are “the end justifies the means” folks. The means is whatever gets them in charge. Mostly they hold those who actually believe their lies in contempt. All that matters is that they vote for them. What they want is power, which they plan to use to garner more of it for themselves and their moneyed class. They really don’t give a crap about a Republican family getting by on $50,000 a year, just as they obviously don’t give a crap about the poor.

Yes, they are mendacious and as I also pointed out in 2009 they are also sadists. Why are they sadists? It’s because in most of these cases they have risen in the world because they have read this book by Robert J. Ringer, or came by it naturally. These intimidators generally fall under the category of bully, now featured in a topical and (I understand) extremely hard to watch movie of the same name, at least if you have any compassion in your soul. The mendacious Republicans simply lack compassion for anyone except those in their high social and income class.

Bullies succeed because they can smell someone who is emotionally vulnerable the same way a dog can smell its master a football field away. They love to exercise power through intimidation and they are well practiced in its discipline. Bullies excel in being assertive and at challenging people. They know the secret to exercising intimidation: argument does not matter so much as the ability to make someone physically or emotionally vulnerable (ideally both). The rules include: always take the initiative, always go for the jugular, always assert that you know best, and always use a tone of voice that includes as many of the above as possible: scorn, righteousness, certainty and authority with the overall need to dominate.  The corollary: never let any who disagrees with you get a word in edgewise.

Few of us are trained to deal with bullies, which is why we typically give way. In school, it’s a particularly good idea because many of these bullies are not afraid to put their fists and feet where their mouth is. I still have searing images of some of these bullies during my childhood. Like most of us partially civilized people, I learned to avoid them. We tried to practice the golden rule. Violating it even against a bully seemed deeply wrong somehow because we are not living up to our values.

There are the overt Republican bullies, the Rush Limbaughs and Newt Gingriches of the world, and then there are the less obvious bullies. It’s hard for even me to look at the likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and think he’s a bully. Gosh, Mitt seems so nice. But in fact, Mitt is just a different breed of bully. He’s the slight of hand bully. Mitt did not get rich by chance; he schmoozed and bullied his way into riches by moving money from one pocket to the other while taking the lion’s share. Moreover, he did a remarkably masterful job of it.

Romney basically convinced the greedy to give him and Bain Capital money. He took their money (putting none of his own money at risk, naturally) and bought companies with them. He then proceeded to make them more “efficient”, which generally meant looting the company. This was done by taking their free cash, of course, but also dramatically reducing wages and benefits for employees and, if he could get away with it, squeezing suppliers as well. Sometimes the company was just liquidated for the cash. For this he and his buddies took their share and if the company still remained then tried to resell the company. Aside from the employees who often took the shaft, a lot of money was also gained by billing Uncle Sam. Pension funds were raided and went to the control of the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation instead. Pensioners received cents on the dollar for what had been secure pensions courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. To the extent they were left a safety net, it was provided by taxpayers. To add insult to injury, taxpayers were fleeced but it just added to Romney’s bottom line. Moreover, for his innovation the tax code gave him a special discount of a 15% tax rate on unearned income.

Romney is one of the weasely bullies, but a bully nonetheless. His agenda though is crystal clear, in spite of his ability to talk out both sides of the mouth. He wants to give a lot more money to people like him: the one percent but especially the top .1%. The talk about cutting government is mostly just that, because if elected Social Security and Medicare will still be largely untouchable, although Medicaid will not be. Which means plenty of deficit spending is guaranteed. And who will benefit disproportionately from all this borrowed money? As usual, it will be the richest of the rich: through paying fewer taxes, lowered capital gains and by making sure the industries they care about, principally defense and energy, are showered with government largess. It is a formula that worked well for Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. All that remains is to talk you into it once again, and once again you, fellow taxpayer and especially you taxpayer to be, are the one who will pay the price. Your future will be robbed all under the guise of stopping socialism.

Robert Reich does an excellent job of summing all this up in a two minute video.

We can’t kill Republicans, so they are always going to be around. Intimidation is the game that they play so well. Expect more of it. They will be going straight for the American jugular, using these familiar but still uncomfortable tactics of intimidation but by also playing to your fears and to your patriotic instincts. To beat them, we have to do a better at standing up to these bullies. I will discuss tactics in a future post.

Meanwhile America, are you going to let yourself be bullied and intimidated into voting against your best interests yet again? Or will you join me and do something unnatural and uncomfortable, and stand up to these bullies by putting them in their place?

When it happens yet again to you, will you have the courage of Joseph Nye Welch, who famously stood down one of the greatest bullies of all time: Joseph McCarthy? Get ready with the words that will kill. Practice them until they roll effortlessly out of your mouth. Be prepared to stand up forcefully, look them in the eyes and simply say: “Have you no decency, sir, at long last?”

 

 

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