At All Costs

Just as the majority religion in America -- the one with a virtual monopoly -- likes to portray itself as under siege even as it's succeeding in worming its way into our schools and political platforms to an unprecedented degree, so is Mitt Romney's Republican party seeking to win by appealing to white people who've seen the black guy in their house as a threat to their legitimacy, their sense of entitlement. There are none so manipulatable as those made to feel threatened by forces beyond their control.

... The Washington Post’s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the welfare ads his lowest rating, four Pinocchios. The Tampa Bay Tribune’s Politifact was equally harsh, describing the ads as “a drastic distortion” warranting a “pants on fire” rating. The welfare commercial, according to Politifact, “inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance.”

Sharp criticism has done nothing to hold back the Romney campaign from continuing its offensive — in speeches and on the air — because the accuracy of the ads is irrelevant as far as the Republican presidential ticket is concerned. The goal is not to make a legitimate critique, but to portray Obama as willing to give the “undeserving” poor government handouts at the expense of hardworking taxpayers.

Insofar as Romney can revive anti-welfare sentiments – which have been relatively quiescent since the enactment of the 1996 reforms – he may be able to increase voter motivation among whites whose enthusiasm for Romney has been dimmed by the barrage of Obama ads criticizing Bain Capital for firing workers and outsourcing jobs during Romney’s tenure as C.E.O. of the company.


The Romney campaign is willing to disregard criticism concerning accuracy and veracity in favor of “blowing the dog whistle of racism” – resorting to a campaign appealing to racial symbols, images and issues in its bid to break the frustratingly persistent Obama lead in the polls, which has lasted for the past 10 months. The result is a campaign run at two levels. On the trail, Paul Ryan argues that “we’re going to make this about ideas. We’re going to make this about a positive vision for the future.” On television and the Internet, however, the Romney campaign is clearly determined “to make this about” race...

The longer campaigns go on, the nastier they get. Once unthinkable methods become conventional...

The thing is, the approach is working. Playing on white Christian fear and aggrievement, caring nothing about factuality, the Romney campaign has finally gotten back to the base(st) line. It's always worked, and Republicans have the most experience and expertise in the technique.* Plus they have the distinct advantage, having played to perfection the long game of misinforming and diseducating, of having potential voters who are more primed than ever to accept it. Nor should we forget they have unprecedented cost-free use of a well-honed and shameless propaganda complex.

A recent commenter seemed shocked that I think Obama will lose. As I do, she lives in the Pacific Northwest, where, although hardly an all-liberal bastion, there's a general sense of sense, even among Republicans; so it's easy to be lulled into not recognizing what American voters have become. And as we've seen, the story of Mitt Romney's life has been learning how, and willingness, to win at all costs.

(Here's an interesting article suggesting it'll be the last time the R party tries to win by appealing only to white people. If he loses, maybe so. But I'm not at all confident he will. And if they manage to put in place their programs, so devastating to our ability to compete in the world, it won't really matter what happens next: it'll be too late to recover. Educating our kids, helping to feed the hungry ones, providing a modicum of health care for them -- gone from the list of priorities, in favor of tax cuts at the top, and the war machine. Let's hope China and India will be kind to us, and share their inventions. And let's hope we'll be able to afford to buy them.)
* Sure, Obama and Ds are willing to raise fears, too. But they've been relying on the truth, at least insofar as politicians ever do. Their claims about the Ryan/Romney budget and its effects on education, infrastructure, health care, etc, etc, are accurate, and supported. As are their statements about voucherizing (a word Rs have been instructed to avoid) Medicare and its effect on costs.

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