As dispiriting as it is to be a Democrat these days, what with the equivocating and serial cave-ins to the opposition, at least it isn’t downright embarrassing. All but the most craven of Democrats at least vaguely attempt to run on a platform of some sort, and have the decency to make at least desultory attempts to implement it if elected. More importantly, they generally make a pretense of playing by the rules in elections.
Not so Republicans. Fully aware that their programs are, increasingly every day, about as popular as crabs in a whorehouse, they entirely reject the notion of small-d democracy altogether, and have chosen a different path to power. Rather than adjust their ideology to changing times, demographics, and realities, they seek to cement their advantage by artificial means, mirroring the narcissistic behavior of the monopolists and plutocrats who fund them. Birds of a feather, and all that.
Unfortunately for a lot of Americans, it isn’t easy to get an election within stealing distance relying entirely on sociopathic billionaires, so the GOP first casts about for the dumbest Americans, who, as luck would have it, have a lot of enemies. Bible-bangers hate teh ghey (and worse), along with the usual Jezebels and intellectuals; Confederate-Americans hate the non-white, and surly old Dittohead coots hate all of all of the above, plus uppity whippersnappers, hippies, and all vegetables except creamed corn. Put together, people on their shit list turn out to be a heck of a lot more than a mere 47%, which you would think, for a party that openly aspires to a “permanent majority,” be a problem.
But in media-addled America, where everything from pimple cream to investment advice is sold as a “solution,” problems just aren’t what they used to be. Just add money, and the perfect “solution” will drift in on the wings of, say, the Confidence Fairy, and all will be well. And you have to hand it to Republicans for the diabolical creativity of their “solutions.”
Demographics working against you? How about a little voter suppression? Court cases not going your way? Have you thought of changing the courts? A few annoyingly well-funded opponents, like unions and tort lawyers? How about a demonization campaign to put them out of business? Insufficient reverence for whatever dunderhead you’ve managed to finagle into office? Why not start a war? Unpopular ideas? Just lie; no one will call you on any of it. Beaten in the election? That’s what impeachment is for.
In every case since Karl Rove was one of eight under-30 Americans who excitedly joined the Nixon campaign in 1972, the Republicans have been more bold about their contempt for democracy in each election cycle. Their court appointees routinely act to bolster their political advantage, with Bush v. Gore leading inexorably to Citizens United, to literally God knows where. Their lavishly funded state candidates set immediately about vanquishing the opposition through Draconian, copycat laws and redistricting, and newly unrestricted money floods the airwaves with deceptive propaganda. A hollowed-out and increasingly compromised media nod approvingly at their tactical genius, even as it joins them in deceiving the voting public about their actual goals.
Defeating Romney and the Republicans will undoubtedly not usher in a new golden age or anything of the sort, given the fecklessness of President Obama and the Democratic Party in general, but it is entirely necessary to preserve any semblance of the notion that elections still matter at all. A whole lot of really scary, and scarily powerful, people have dedicated their lives to dispelling that “quaint” notion once and for all.