It’s probably a holdover from war propaganda technique. Dehumanize your enemy; make them less sympathetic. For Republicans, that requires inventing an artificial social standard for which they can create consensus, something they ironically call the “real America,” a militaristic, political force of religious, cultural warriors who fight for all they choose to define as good and true, a standard that exists only because believing makes it so. They then point out how communities that challenge that standard are unfaithful, greedy heathens.
It could be as simple as Group X saying, “We keep the poor from dying,” and the Republicans claiming Group X gives help to murderers, rapists and thieves. Wanting a hand up is cast as envy. Wanting a fair wage is seen as ingratitude. Asking for considerations when one has needs but no means becomes socialism.
Planned Parenthood and the United Nations are among those the GOP has singled out in its fight, organizations that a generation ago were honored and revered by Republicans and Democrats alike. Emboldened by their hand in the destruction of ACORN, an organization that did nothing but help inner city communities, they think they have a precedent of success for their self-righteous attacks.
So successful was the vilification of ACORN, that even though the organization went under in 2010, nearly half of Republicans recently surveyed by Public Policy Polling, 49%, believe that the defunct community group “stole the election for President Obama.” That number is greater than expected, PPP points out, “given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore.”
Even the Republicans’ decades-old assault on unions is an example of how the GOP turns the fears of its largest campaign donors into an existential threat to the country.
Not surprisingly, there is more than a little hypocrisy, here. For the Right, it is more acceptable to be part of Grover Norquist’s union of people who want to cut entitlements and eliminate most taxes than to acknowledge the United States’ part in a union of nations. The shock for most observers is that they took their disdain for the UN to Tuesday’s Senate vote on an international treaty on rights for the disabled. So vehemently do they oppose the body that endeavors to maintain global conversations for peace and human rights, that 38 Republicans voted against ratification, and the treaty failed to achieve its necessary two-thirds majority by five votes.
For many in the Old Guard, the reason for voting against the treaty was self-preservation. They are afraid that of a challenge from the Tea Party wing of their party in the next primary. That fear caused United States Senators to engage in isolationist driven, pretzel logic justifications of their stands. This is less about raising the rest of the world to the standard of our 22 year old Americans with Disabilities Act, they argued, than it is about making us more like them, or worse, subjecting us to their laws and oversight.
“I’ve heard from parents of disabled children,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said during Tuesday’s floor debate, “that this treaty will threaten their rights as parents to determine the best education, treatment and care for their disabled children. I simply cannot support a treaty that threatens the right of parents to raise their children with the constant looming threat of state interference.”
“That’s the way it works in the United Nations,” agreed Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). “Many other mischievous actions will certainly arise to bedevil our country and we’ll have hypocritical meddlers complicating our internal efforts and our internal social and health policies.”
In the case of the UN, the existential threat Republicans are pushing is sovereignty, which the courts have said can never be given up by treaty.
In the case of ACORN, the threat was electoral integrity, protecting the roles from people they don’t want to see voting, even though voter registration was only one function of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Their main mission was advocacy for low and middle income communities in the arena of public safety and public health. And making Planned Parenthood a target gives them a bogeyman against whom they can defend their questionably religious morals.
The bottom line is, it’s all manufactured. They’ve made up this whole moral, ethical, nationalistic platform like it’s something to which we should all aspire, that to want anything else is unpatriotic, anarchistic drivel. It’s insane demagoguery, and it sucks when it works.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), summed up the Republican penchant for putting their own interests before the needs of the American people, in an interview, Wednesday, with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, in response to Tuesday’s failed UN treaty ratification. “Fear triumphed,” he said, “and politics triumphed.”
When will reason triumph?