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writing for godot

The Republican's Candidate Message or Massage?

Written by Winston P. Nagan   
Thursday, 23 February 2012 08:29
There are currently four republicans left over still fighting the primary battles. These guys are like four mice. Three are blind and one has a tunnel vision. The blind mice appear to be all over the show. Occasionally they vent somewhat unconvincingly at the democrats and the President. However, they have spent most of their time and corporate riches destroying each other. Given the difficulty of attempting to discern what the three blind mice stand for, as the important electoral issue of our time, it is surprising that the moneybags have contributed little to the construction of a viable national republican platform. Indeed, the PAC money has seemed to be a cross between character assassination and a fragmented ideology. It may be that the central unifying theme, which most of them would agree on in private, does not make for a winning symbol of electoral orientation. That unifying theme is captured in the words “Barack Obama.” However, what this means for the republican base is not a democratic President, but a “Black Democratic President;” And to cover anti-Obama aspirations with the symbol of racism, would clearly not resonate with the larger American electorate. I suspect that our fellow citizens would see this degenerate view as an embarrassing resort to racism. Given that Obama is an awkward target, aiming at him has to confront the success he has had on issues of national security, as well as the evidence of an economic recovery. Perhaps the most embarrassing economic fact for the blind mice is the remarkable comeback of the automobile industry. Most experts credit this to the bailout program generated by the Obama Administration.

The republican mice have been struggling to focus on subjects other than their own infirm political personalities. Even here, the reason is about the nature of the subjects that might have electoral traction. Let us take Romney. Romney has sought to proclaim that he is a severe conservative, whatever this means. Although he has tried to generate some traction with family values, his track record here is spotty. Additionally, he is a Mormon whose family history is mired in polygamy. This provides a cloud over the candidate that is recognizable by the conservative religious right. To sidetrack the discourse with family values only gets into a run up against the holier than thou Santorum. Perhaps Romney strongest suit is the fact that he made a lot of money as a businessman. Romney was in some respects a maverick on the fringes of capitalism, running a business that was an essentially predatory form of vulture capitalism. His mode operation was to coercively take over companies, suck them of their assets, and then abandoned them. Here, economic Darwinism was an essential justification. Taking over what are claimed to be struggling corporations, they do not represent economic fitness for survival or progress. It was his vulture capitalism instincts that led him to insist that there be no bailout for the automobile industry. If they cannot survive, let us help their demise. Romney has sought to obscure these issues by saying “I am rich and successful. This is a good credential for electing me to lead the Republican Party in the coming election.” He has also indicated that he does not care much for the interests of the poor. Here he must have taken his cue from the Republican Party’s strategy of voter suppression strategies, which target the lower class. In short, the poor will not turn out to vote, or the voter suppression strategies would keep them from voting. What Romney so far presents is a rather slender platform. It may be that if he gets the nomination he will rely on massive negative campaigning without the need for a real platform of his own.

Santorum has proven to be a significant challenge to Romney in the context of the hard-core republican base. Without a serious platform other than the right wing and Tea Party antipathy against the Black President, Santorum has sought to recycle the culture wars platform. The approach has gone beyond the issue of abortion to the issue of contraception. It is difficult to know what the deep religious and cultural roots are that are included in the complete antipathy towards the use of contraception in intimate relations. It is possible that notwithstanding the changes in theological doctrine, there is still a believe, which lingers in the consciousness of the extreme right, that Adam and Eve were the standard-bearers of “original sin.” This suggests that the act of sex is an act of sin. The sex act may lead to pregnancy. The outcome of this act is therefore an outcome of sin. The fetus is born in sin. The antipathy to abortion then, expresses in view of some, the idea that an aborted fetus will end up in purgatory, because it has not gone through baptism or ritual of sin cleansing. Apparently, in the 18th century some monks in Europe developed a baptismal syringe to be deployed if there was a possibility of a miscarriage. The problem with the sex as sin issue was that it could be supported for hundreds of years by the consequence of pregnancy, which could be seen as the punishment for illicit sex. However, in the 20th century some subversive capitalist decided that latex rubber could be in circumstances of sexual intimacy and prevent pregnancy. This capitalist invention meant that sex would not carry the punishment of pregnancy anymore. At a deeper level, a bit of rubber appeared to have challenged centuries of doctrine about sex and consequences. Apparently, this remains an issue that is not resolved, at least for those who still believe in this assumption.

The development of scientific insights into the psychology of sex, mental health, personal happiness and gratification, have resulted in changes in which sex and patriarchy are being replaced by sex and mutuality. Sex and mutuality require responsibility and respect, and the concern that creating a family can and should be a matter of mutual choice, rather than an accident of circumstances. These newer values probably could not have emerged without the medical and scientific breakthroughs in birth control. Notwithstanding religious doctrine, true confessionals do not extent their faith so far as to not use birth control as a part of planning a family. Now comes Santorum. Presumably, he would outlaw the production and distribution of birth control technologies, which I suppose, he believes were conceived in sin. In the meanwhile, republicans in many states are devising intrusive strategies to limit a women’s access to abortion under medical circumstances. These include a legislative insistence that plastic probes be inserted into sensitive parts of a women’s body, without her consent, and reinforced by a legislative mandate. This widespread male dominated, patriarchal republican focus on the body of a women, as a fit instrument for legislative intrusion may have at its back some unacknowledged psycho-socio pathologies in the republican establishment and Santorum may be an advance guard of that psycho-pathology. It is astonishing that this focus on the women’s body, as an integral part of the ideology of family values, should be such a central focus of a major aspirant for the public office of President. Perhaps Santorum should be reminded that the body politic consists of men and women in roughly equal proportions. This does not mean he should expand his campaign to make men the centerpiece of the platform of the Republican Party.

The other blind mouse, Newt Gingrich appears to marginally support these views, but his own policy platform remains inaccessible. It remains to be seen whether his profusion of ideas and insights can be consolidated in a coherent electoral posture. The fourth mouse, Ron Paul, is the mouse with tunnel vision. Sometimes looking straight ahead, he sees real problems and real solutions. As he continues to look, he does not see the problems and imposes his one-dimensional solution. Unfortunately, the libertarian tunnel vision appears to be too little infused with the strategic nuance of sound pragmatic principles rooted in figuring out real problems and rational solutions.

Winston P. Nagan
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