GOP--poll-axed?

Yeah, that's a pun on a rustic but, well, expressive,  expression.  (And you members of the grammar police--I know that when one is queried by a pollster he or she is ASKED.  Give me a little credit for knowing the rules of the language in which I majored back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.......and were then roped and saddled by Adam and Eve).

Today, Daily Kos (which I admit is a liberal blog) published the results of a poll of voters who claimed to be mainstream Republicans, which poll was conducted by a nonpartisan organization.  The results were striking (oh, that poleaxe again) and dispiriting for anyone who believes us to be a literate and evolved nation.  Fully 63% of Republicans polled defined Obama as a "socialist" (without demonstrating they know the definition of "socialist"). 42% believe he was born outside the U.S. 31% believe that he is "a racist who hates white people" (such as his mom and grandma?). 21% believe he "wants the terrorists to win."  And a near-majority believe he should be impeached....after one year.....for what, other than not being able to immediately extinguish the flaming bag of dog poop of an economy and deficit Bush & Cheney planted on the White House doorstep before Inauguration Day?  Nearly as dispiriting is that more Republicans answered "not sure" than disagreed with the foregoing statements.  

So, at the risk of losing a few fans, here goes:

You who answered "yes" to the foregoing questions are either crazy or stupid or intellectually lazy.....or any or all of the above. What planet do you live on? I am hoping that this poll isn't really representative of Republicans, as I have several friends who so identify (and used to have a few relatives who did too, before they died off).   And shame on you who answered "don't know." You owe it to this country to learn enough from a wide variety of sources to be able to develop an informed opinion and intelligently explain it.  

Now, I keep hearing pundits of all ideologies explain that Republican voters' affinity for snappy catchphrases and shibboleths and their bizarre aversion (bordering on allergy) to being willing to even listen to facts and reason is due to their despair and anger over the economy and fear of the unfamiliar.  To that, I answer that despair and anger are no excuse for shutting one's ears; and that all it takes to defuse the unfamiliar is to render it familiar, by LEARNING. By "learning" I don't mean by going back to school or hanging out with intellectuals or listening only to MSNBC. I mean by doing it the old-fashioned way:  self-education.  Read newspapers and magazines, even those whose ideologies you loathe. Same with TV and radio news. Recognize the difference between a reporter and a pundit (hint:  the latter is almost never impartial, because there's no fame or money in impartiality).   If you are unemployed and pounding the pavement or following online job listing sites, spend a few minutes each day to pick up some newspapers and newsmagazines (or read them for free at the library, or surf over to the online versions of a mainstream news source and one each on either side of the spectrum. Pick up a phone or e-mail your Congressperson, state legislator, town councilperson, mayor's office, etc. and ASK them where they stand on issues about which you care and why they feel that way.  You'd be surprised how often in an election year you may hear back from the actual officeholder, not just an aide or volunteer. Pick up a regular dictionary and learn the definitions of "socialism" and "fascism," and then use them knowledgeably instead of just parroting them. 

This is going to be the hard part:  take a good long hard look at your own financial and health situation and those of your state and town, go back to those news sources, and trace the timeline of exactly what happened, when it happened and whodunit.  For this, you're going to have to go back to the 1980s to get an understanding of it. (That's where those history books come in).  For whom do or did you work? If you no longer work for them, what happened at that company to make you lose that job? If you've lost your home, have an unfair mortgage, have seen interest rates on your savings plunge while those on your loans and credit cards have soared, find out what the companies and banks in question did and who in government enabled them to do it (Hint: "taxes" and "regulations" are going to be the opposite of the true answers).  Who in government cut taxes of institutions that kept on doing you harm? Who eased the regulations that allowed them to gamble with "other people's money" when you'd have to use your own funds to play the lottery or visit a casino?  You will find it's the very people and institutions who have screwed you over and want to keep taking more and more and more of your money and spending it on themselves.  Did you vote for them, or are you still voting for them because they "share your values?" Guess what--they don't. They never did. They just said what you wanted to hear because they want your vote and ultimately your money. (Again, NOT "taxes." I mean your actual money in their actual pockets).  Even if they agree with your moral values, they lack either the power or the inclination to make them the law of the land.  They're either laughing behind your back at your gullibility or just taking advantage of your anger---anger THEY caused you to have and continue to fan--taking your money and doing what they please.

Don't tell me you don't have the time to learn the facts, or that they share your moral or religious values, as your reason for accepting their loaded and biased shorthand as gospel. I have friends who rise before dawn to tend several hundred acres of corn and beans and dairy cows, then run their own shops and other small businesses, and who are some of the most securely devout and committed Christians I know, who love God with all their hearts and souls.  They raised up children to be good and moral and self-reliant.....and as open-minded as they are.  They live in the most conservative of counties, yet they somehow find the time to learn and sort out the facts and see through the bullhockey--and despite not being wealthy, they believe that to abandon those in need is itself a sin.  They've bothered to learn about other countries AND about our own.  Unlike 1 in 4 Americans, they actually KNOW what a supermajority and a filibuster are, why it takes 60 votes to shut down a filibuster, and why nothing can get passed by the Senate without that "cloture" vote letting a bill or nominess actually get to an up-or-down vote. They know the near-impossibility these days of changing a Senate rule, and that just because something is not mentioned in the Constitution doesn't mean it's illegal or unconstitutional. They've opened their minds.......and thus, their hearts will never close.

I've heard that in light of the coming midterm elections, and the roll Obama is on after the State of the Union address and his Q&A sessions in small towns this week, the GOP publicity machine has kicked into high gear. They've hired conservative pollster and focus-group maven Frank Luntz to spin the proposed bill to regulate bank, derivatives and credit abuses as that most magical of idiot catchphrases, "Government Control."  Yup. You read that correctly.  They are going to try and convince their base--and those impatient with or frightened by the pace of "change"--that laws designed to ease consumer and small-business credit and prevent another mortgage/derivatives bubble from engendering another Wall St. blackmailing round of "too big to fail"--are actually FAVORS to Wall St. at the same time they are unfair deprivations of corporations' liberty! Neat trick, especially considering Luntz' most lucrative clients are all of those megabanks (AIG, Goldmine Sacks--uh, Goldman Sacks, ML/B of A, etc.) who necessitated the first bailout.  Also, that abolishing "don't ask, don't tell" is the "government controlling the military" (say WHAT????).  And you know what?  They will succeed in bamboozling the gullible.

Why? I've figured it out. It's so simple that it's practically a "V-8 moment." Obama got elected because the economy was a mess, unemployment huge, and the mega-banks had backed the whole country into a corner. All of that--including the bailout--happened on Bush's watch.  Obama ran in favor of change. (Mind you, he never guaranteed it or promised he'd achieve it, only that we needed it and he favored it). The situation sucked, so change was a good idea and he won.  Only the GOP never got the memo--it concentrated on placating the birther loonies who never even bothered to vote, so it dedicated itself to blocking change at every turn lest Obama actually succeed.  It enlisted its corporate allies to create and bankroll a phony "tea party patriot"movement to draw the fringe back into the electorate.

Fast forward a year--things still suck big-time (in large part because the GOP is ensuring they do).  But because Obama and the Democrats are in "power" (again, with that pesky filibuster stuff rendering that a misnomer), and he didn't "change" the bad stuff fast enough and is scaring the loonies by proposing to bring some other changes (good for the people, bad for Wall St.,accomplished by government,  therefore it must be "socialist"), the short-attention-span-catchphrase-addicted electorate assumes that everything bad is now Obama's fault (because he didn't make it go away) and that he must also want to do away with whatever remains that's good.  From there, it's only a short step (off the cliff of sanity) to "terrorist," "foreigner" and "socialist."  You see, it's more convenient that way.

Facts are so complicated and inconvenient. Learning is messy, hard work. Ignorance is bliss. 'Tis a gift to be simple(-minded), 'tis a gift to be free (of the responsibilities of citizenship). The Shakers are doubtless rolling in their graves.

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