Friday, March 4, 2016

What Republicans Stand For

I think this, from libertarian-leaning economist Tyler Cowen, is the best definition I have seen:
The Republican Party is held together by the core premise that the status of some traditionally important groups be supported and indeed extended. That would include “white male producers,” but not only. You could add soldiers, Christians (many but not all kinds), married mothers, gun owners, and other groups to that list.
The challenge of democratic politics has always been to craft policies that appeal to what are at base emotional affiliations. The great master of this in my lifetime was Ronald Reagan, who combined tax cuts, a muscular-sounding but not too dangerous foreign policy, some small budget cuts, and rhetorical nods toward whiteness, nationalism, Christianity and tradition into a package he called "conservatism." The problem for Republicans is that, as Cowen puts it,
The older Republican policy positions haven’t delivered much to people for quite some time.
So along comes a new voice:
The success of Trump by the way is that he appeals to that revaluation of values directly, and bypasses or revises or ignores a lot of the associated policy positions. That is why the Republican Party finds it so hard to counter him and also fears it will lose its privileged position, were Trump to win.
Fascinating. Instead of bothering to figure out what policies might help his constituents and advance their goals, or even crafting policy positions that would appeal to them, Trumps just leaves the policy out and goes straight for the emotional rhetoric. Politics always has a large element of theater, rhetoric, and group solidarity, but it also concerns how the country should be governed. Not for Trump; his campaign is all theater, rhetoric, and group solidarity, with a few policy ideas that few take seriously as window dressing.


G. Verloren said...

Again with the similarities to Fascism. "Policy? Who cares about policy? We've got angry, confident rhetoric that appeals to the basest of emotions! Put us in power and we'll make everything better! Don't ask us how, we'll worry about all that for you!"

Avoiding the issue of policy is what allowed the Fascists to get away with all their attrocities. When they clamped down on minorities and dissenters, the average person wasn't told "We're conducting genocide and crimes against humanity", but rather "We're making the country great again", and so they didn't question further.

They were pleased with their leaders when they suddenly stopped seeing all those unpleasant minorities and dissenters around getting in the way of patriotic fervor, and most didn't think to imagine what might be happening to those people after they got loaded up into train cars and the backs of trucks. Those who did stop to wonder were quickly reassured that the deportees would be fine, just fine - like a child being told their pet dog is going to live at a nice farm upstate where they'll have lots of room to run around and be happy.

Trump operates in the same way. He tells infamous "Big Lies" about minorities and dissenters, delivering staggering falsehoods with unshakeable confidence, and promises glory and victory to be achieved through nebulous, unspecified means.

Thomas said...

For what it's worth, this has been posted a lot in my FB feed. Lakoff reduces it to a "strong daddy" impulse of Republicans.