GOP Rhetoric and the Power to Dismantle It

Conservatives, as we know, speak broadly in clichés and generalities, very little of which has any foundation in real circumstances.  Mastering the craft of empty bullshit is the surest way to the top of GOP politics, it seems.  And because achieving status with tactics such as these means it must work; there must be believers out there ready to accept even the simplest lies as truths and trash their own best interests in the bargain.

That in itself is trouble, but perhaps understandable in a sad way. People want to hear things that promise a simple way to a happiness they want to believe is theirs and familiar.

What is more troubling and less forgivable, are the lies and the liars who tell them.  But where do we pitch our fight?  Do we keep calling out the liars or do we need to unsettle the complacent?

If your power and advantage depended upon unfair policy favoring your interests, you would want to keep people away from the facts, too; unless — of course — you were a person of moral integrity, I suppose.  That’s another issue and one perhaps more troubling than ignorance.  It is better to be in ignorance of such things.  (Which, I believe, many conservatives choose to be.  Facts hurt the conservative position and we’re all naturally pain averse.)

So perhaps people like Bachmann, Santorum, and Romney are not all that skilled after all.  Perhaps they’re empty conveyors of canned messages.

Nevertheless, it is the bumbling so-called “moderate” or political middle in American society that troubles me.  How can we be so easily duped?  In an age when information is everywhere and accessible like never before, we don’t seem to care much for facts.  We care more about tripe like this from GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vision for America.

“It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.”

Good lord.  Shut up.  At best this sounds like mocking dialogue from a Christopher Guest film.

The key words and phrases here — America, Freedom, Happiness, Unique Ways, Hard Working, etc — are abused and insulted in this sophomoric pitch.  Missing is any sense that these words have meaning other than serving as hooks for catching the gullible.

Conservatives use this trope of equating capitalism with freedom and happiness all the time and it is naive, simple, and stupid.  Exactly how is capitalism going to make you free and happy if you’re left on the outside?  Certainly capitalism enables economic growth and opportunity, which even in today’s Gilded Age, benefits everyone to different degrees.

Listen to Romney.  He simply presumes associations.  Freedom, free people, and happiness follow free enterprise which blesses the world with greater employment.  Jobs are the answer, always the answer, and the only answer.  It is that straight forward.

Well, not really.  (Especially if you cannot work.)

Anyone paying attention to the past two decades can see that free market — even regulated free market — doesn’t inherently equate with freedom and happiness.  Nevertheless, the myth persists and that myth can only persist as long as the public remains disengage from facts and the common sense of its own experience.  That bothers me.

We are a people which increasingly votes against its own future and best interests.  This comes from an inherent misunderstanding of our opportunities and risks in a rising global community.  Whether it is a matter of education, economics, environment, security or anything else, we cannot resort to the ideals and beliefs of past — whether true or not — to address the future.  Conservatives are inherently about conserving past practices and biases.  Ironically, however, they seem to understand least among us all how our great society and nation worked and rose to power in previous decades.  Under the banner of American Exceptionalism, they are systematically dismantling the social contracts and public goods that helped raise that banner.

Better than any GOP cliché is another that tells us knowledge is power, and that kind of power can dismantle GOP disinformation.  Until America’s majority wakes up and stops supporting political backwardness, we should not expect change.  Ignorance is not bliss.  The blame falls on us, the voters.


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