Friday, June 27, 2008

The Grand New Party has a musty smell.

David "Applebees Salad Bar" Brooks has another rich editorial in the New York Times:

There have been other outstanding books on how the G.O.P. can rediscover its soul (like “Comeback” by David Frum), but if I could put one book on the desk of every Republican officeholder, “Grand New Party” would be it. You can discount my praise because of my friendship with the authors, but this is the best single roadmap of where the party should and is likely to head.

Several years ago, Tim Pawlenty, the Minnesota governor, said the Republicans should be the party of Sam’s Club, not the country club. This line is the animating spirit of “Grand New Party.” Douthat and Salam argue that the Republicans rode to the majority because of support from the Reagan Democrats, and if the party has a future, it will be because it understands the dreams and tribulations of working-class Americans.

The fact is that the right has attempted to court the working class. However, they have done so in a manner that is superficial and offers practically nothing to actually help them in any meaningful way. See the GOP's new-found populism in an attempt to defame Obama (try not to spit your coffee out when you read about Karl Rove attacking Obama for being an elitist who drinks martinis and makes snarky comments at a country club).

The Reagan comparison is telling: lots of cheap blue collar imagery papering over an agenda that favors massive tax cuts to the rich combined with the gutting of social programs. The right can only win the votes of workers by getting them to vote against their class interest with things like the 2004 gay marriage initiatives. People focus on immigrants, blacks, Muslims, and gays as if they were a real threat to their well-being instead of the economic forces that conspire at the top to keep them in their place.

The right can go on and on about superficial things like the fact that Obama has heard of arugala (along with all of the rest of us in rural America who get the Food Network), but it has nothing to offer the working and middle classes when they're out of a job and medical bills force them to declare bankruptcy. It has nothing to offer them when they want to send their children to college and can't afford it on their meager salary. It has nothing to offer but more Horatio Alger and bootstrapping bullshit.

The only thing that the Republican part has to offer us is cheap labels (Who do you want to have a beer with? Do you want to vote for a guy who shops at Whole Foods or Sam's Club?) and fear of otherness. Brooks can go on and on about "hard work conservatism," whatever the hell that means, but it doesn't amount to meaningful policies in an economic environment where hard work isn't enough to keep your head above water.

Brooks' myopia can be summed up in the following paragraph:
In the 1950s, divorce rates were low and jobs were plentiful, but over the next few decades that broke down. The social revolutions of the 1960s and the economic revolution of the information age have emancipated the well-educated but left the Sam’s Club voters feeling insecure.
That's right: the sixties were about emancipating the "well-educated." Forget about that silly Civil Rights thing. Was that just another example of uppety "elitist" negroes like Obama that didn't know their place, unlike the hard working, white Americans that Brooks imagines go to Sam's Club and put Hunts ketchup on their iceberg lettuce? Jesus Christ.

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