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There’s Hope for Republicans Yet

Posted on Jan 12, 2012
AP / Charles Krupa

The hands of Newt Gingrich, whose recent attacks on Mitt Romney have been aimed at blue-collar voters.

By Robert Scheer

There is a full-blown debate going on in, of all places, the Republican Party about the failings of the governing, corporate-sponsored kleptocracy. Not so on the Democratic side. Spared a primary battle, the incumbent president need not defend his economic record, which is basically a redo of the save-Wall-Street-first stance initiated by his Republican predecessor.

That bipartisan establishment consensus, in which the enormous power of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve was harnessed to bail out the financial industry swindlers while ignoring the plight of their victims, has been challenged only on the Republican side, where the libertarian Ron Paul has tapped into the enormous populist rage among voters.

There is no comparable dissent among leading Democrats, who have been loath to take on Barack Obama’s embrace of crony capitalism—that fatal melding of Wall Street wealth with Washington political power—the way Paul and even Newt Gingrich have powerfully challenged Mitt Romney, the GOP’s Obama doppelgänger.

Yes, doppelgänger, and please don’t try to scare me with those hoary tales of how Romney is the second coming of the far right on social issues, when his entire tenure as Massachusetts governor proved quite the opposite. The issue in this campaign is the economy, and on that, by the time of the general election, there will be no serious substantive difference between the two major parties’ candidates. Both will squarely be on the side of the financiers who created this crisis.

The attacks on Romney’s association with the rapacious Bain Capital could apply with equal force to the Clinton administration veterans whom Obama has entrusted with managing the nation’s economy. The list begins with Lawrence Summers, who pocketed more than $8 million in Wall Street loot during the period when he was a top economic adviser to the Obama 2008 presidential campaign. Summers received $5.2 million from the D.E. Shaw private equity fund, which was up to the same sort of shenanigans as Romney’s Bain Capital.

Imagine the outrage among Democrats if a President Romney were to rely on three successive chiefs of staff with résumés as steeped in banking greed as those Obama has appointed. The first to guard the gate to the president was Rahm Emanuel, whose political career was generously backed by Magnetar Capital, an Illinois hedge fund that was a major purveyor of subprime mortgage-backed securities. Then came JPMorgan Chase’s William Daley, paid $5 million a year as the representative of that company in Washington, working to soften Obama’s already tepid efforts at reregulating the banks. And now, Jacob Lew, another Clinton-era retread who made himself wealthy between Democratic administrations by being COO of Citigroup Alternative Investments, specializing in betting that people’s mortgages, which other branches of Citigroup sold, would go belly up.

What has changed in American politics is that the growing army of disenfranchised stakeholders now fit as comfortably within what has been thought of as the plutocratic Republican Party as within its faux-populist rival. In an attempt to exploit the palpable populist anger in the Republican base, Romney’s opponents, as The Wall Street Journal reported, opened a “Pandora’s box of bitter attacks” claiming “in his business career he was a corporate predator, a heartless shredder of companies and jobs and the personification of all that is wrong with capitalism. ...”

It is a line of attack that has worked because, as the Journal’s Gerald F. Seib points out, “Today’s Republican Party has become steadily more blue-collar, more populist and more influenced by voters who act as much like independents as Republicans. All of that makes the idea of attacks on capitalist behavior arising from the traditional party of capitalists a little less bizarre.”

The stats to back up that assertion are compelling; according to exit polls, 75 percent of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire had family incomes of below $100,000, and almost half did not have a college degree. It was from their ranks and among the nearly half of voters who identified as independents that Paul and third-place finisher Jon Huntsman pulled much of their support.

National polls support the notion of a more populist Republican base, and as the combined results of WSJ/NBC News polls over the last year show, blue-collar voters were slightly more likely to identify as Republicans than Democrats. Most startling was the finding from those same national polls when respondents were asked which party was responsible for the economic crisis: “Republicans were precisely as likely as Democrats to blame ‘Wall Street bankers.’ ”

But as the presidential election is now shaping up, voters will not be given a choice to rebuke Wall Street by either major party. Expect razor-thin differences between Romney and Obama on the key issues at the heart of our economic crisis—the ravages of predatory multinational corporate capitalism that turns the nation state into a vehicle for ill-gotten gain, mocking both Adam Smith’s claims for the invisible hand in a truly free market and the assumptions of Jeffersonian democracy in which governance is in the hands of the common folk who are also stakeholders.


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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, January 12, 2012 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

Let’s see…

The man who said this:

“Madame Speaker,

I have a few questions for my colleagues.

What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others?

What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel?

What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan - and bombing Pakistan - is directly related to the hatred directed toward us and has nothing to do with being free and prosperous?

What if someday it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair trade-off for the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens, no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistani, and Afghan people are killed or displaced?

What if we finally decide that torture, even if called enhanced interrogation techniques, is self-destructive and produces no useful information - and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil?

What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy?

What if all wartime spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing?

What if we finally see that wartime conditions always undermine personal liberty?

What if conservatives, who preach small government, wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government?

What if conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world?

What if the American people woke up and understood that the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?

What if we as a nation came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations?
What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq?

What if a military draft is being planned for the wars that will spread if our foreign policy is not changed?

What if the American people learn the truth: that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security and that it never changes from one administration to the next?

What if war and preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests?

What if President Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam put together?

What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression?

What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?

What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded - nothing!

What happens if my concerns are justified and ignored - nothing good!”

- Ron Paul, speech before the US House of Representatives, 02/12/09

Or this guy:

Decisions, decisions…

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By bpawk, January 12, 2012 at 5:04 am Link to this comment

When you start to see more traditional Democrat blue collars identifying with Republicans you know it’s time to bring in a third party.  Neither party represents the needs of the ‘99%’ - as there are a lot of angry, disenfranchised voters out there, why can’t someone address the obstacles the Republocrats put up to shut out any other voices - right now we get a play by play of a stale horse race between two different wings of the same party.  If America is truly ‘free’ why not allow other voices to get on the ballot - surely Americans won’t let the Republocrats again sew up this election.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, January 12, 2012 at 4:33 am Link to this comment

Leopards do not change their spots.  Republicans are running scared
and are cunning and chronic liars, so “embracing” populism is only a
new trick card in their deck that is stacked with dollars from the
wealthiest Americans. 

The Republican Party is the Party Against the People except when
they want to appear not to be and put on their disguises of open
arms. There is a clear difference between conservative values and
liberal ones.  If you don’t know that then whatever government you
get you will deserve. 

Eight years of Bush garbage that sunk this country into the horrid state
it is now in is what can be expected if a Republican is elected.  Electing
Democrats to replace Republican congressmen/women is what will
get this country back on the course that is one responsive to the needs
of the people not the small few who have most of the national wealth.

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