Thursday, September 4. 2008
Billmon: In Your Heart, You Know They're White. No surprise that the common denominator at the Republican convention is that everywhere you look you see nothing but white faces. In 2004 Bush managed to engineer a little camouflage, but not McCain in 2008. Not sure whether he forgot, didn't care, or couldn't hack it. He might even see it as his leg up, but Billmon argues that all-white crowds are looking increasingly anomalous in America. Tune in after, say, the Olympics, the Democratic Convention, the Hurricane Gustav evacuations, and the Republian convention looks even stranger, not to mention more out of touch.
Paul Woodward commenting on a similar article in the Washington Post: "How can a party that doesn't resemble the country, credibly put the 'country first'?" Actually, the Republicans have a pretty limited definition of country, one pretty much summed up by Todd Snider's song "Conservative Christian, Right-Wing Republican, Straight White American Males" -- plus a few soccer moms, or hockey moms as the case may be. Their pitch is based on two basic propositions: those are the only real Americans, and it's up to the Republicans to protect those real Americans and their country from all the other miscreants living and working hereabouts. Everyone who doesn't fit their model is an object of fear and loathing, and Republican campaigns are based on provoking as much of that as possible.
Otherwise, the Republicans would have to run on their real platform, which is helping the rich get richer and keeping everyone else far excluded from any trace of political power. You can start to see their problem when you start counting up how many people benefit from Republican rule vs. how many are hurt by it. If both camps acted rationally, the Republicans would be hard pressed to get 5% of the vote. They do better than that because they're able to con more people, and this is an iterative process: they pick up a few people and tout them as exemplars of Republicanism and use them as bait for more. One problem with this is that the party keeps getting dumber and dumberer as it's swelled with people who don't know or appreciate their own or the public's interests.
But it's an argument that's losing out on several fronts, including demographically. Matt Yglesias reacted to attacks on Democrats in general and Obama in particular as being elitists, in contrast to the regular folk Republicans claim to be:
The whole elitism complaint is the low point so far of this campaign. It seems to be nothing more than a catch-all way to strike out at Obama for being smarter and more eloquent than McCain. Brains and eloquence used to be qualities that we sought out in presidents, like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt. The Republican alternative to brains and eloquence is ignorance and mendacity, and that's about all they have left to sell. It's sad that anyone takes them seriously, except as a threat to civilization.
Matt Yglesias: The Culture Warriors. A little bit more on this, well worth reading. Although I said above that most Republicans aren't being rational about their interests, there is a broader niche that think they are, mostly because they are doing pretty well and haven't factored all the externalities in -- pollution, the risk shift, terrorism, gang crime, government corruption and incompetence, etc. One thing worth pondering is that while rich people in every state vote Republican and poor people in every state vote Democratic, the Democrats wind up winning virtually all of the relatively rich states (Utah is the exception), with the Republicans winning the relatively poor states.