Gun control, global warming, and a grand hijacking
The Republican party no longer is a party of reason, but rather a party of increasing desperation. The desperation stems from many things, but largely from a growing disconnection with a young, increasingly diverse and progressive America. Largely dumbfounded by the newness of it all, the GOP has decided it must thus double down on two specific demographics: 1) the kind of Americans that love them most and will never change and 2) the special interest groups that fund their campaigns. Such political desperation has never been more obvious, especially when you consider that the party who claims to most fervently adhere to America’s “ideals” also features a front-runner boasting a ban of Muslims entering the country. When a party claims to be the arbiter of patriotism yet also is partly made of a base who proudly espouses values antithetical to those that built this country, you gotta wonder what’s going on.(For those wondering about said plan’s implementation, he said he’d “ask them” at the airport).
Republicans were never this really this bad. There has been a lot of stupid and racist shit pulled by Republicans, but little of it has been this stupid and even less of it has been this blatantly racist/Islamophobic/etc. But in my view the case for it is fairly simple — the GOP’s desperate need for votes and money. And the attack has become inadvertently two-fold: Trump rallies for votes from the increasingly extreme GOP base while “establishment” candidates rally for money from special interest groups. Whilst Trump spews what I believe to be genuine racism/xenophobia along with what I also believe to be largely contrived social conservatism, the more cash-strapped candidates line up to received the blessing of groups like the NRA and Koch Brothers with incessant pandering.
In terms of kind-of-not-being-that-down-with-brown-people, that sentiment is not that new an occurrence. That said, the obviousness and desperation with which it is leveraged most definitely is. As recently as 2008, when the Republicans had a pretty damn decent shot at winning the White House, you had situations like when John McCain admirably corrected a woman who claimed Obama was an “Arab”. (His answer, that Obama was instead “a decent family man” was, in hindsight, fairly racist, but at least the old man tried). Now, though, a TV ad from the party’s front-runner looks like this one:
The above video honestly seems like something out of an extremely liberal comedy troupe; A “total shutdown” of Muslims is announced in earnest while showing a backdrop of ISIS (so as to seemingly imply that all Muslims are ISIS), ambiguously brown people are shown scampering across a rickety border (the video actually shows footage from Morocco, not “our southern border” which the voice-over in the background mentions), the whole thing is a caricature of fears most often suffered by old white people in duplexes. But it is indeed the first TV ad of the man statistically most likely to become the Republican nominee.
The funny thing about Trump is that actually doesn’t need money from the special interest groups; he’s a rich man. He just needs votes. But the other candidates need both. And this to me is no more evident in the matter of gun safety, where all GOP candidates, even purportedly “moderate” candidates like Marco Rubio, must continue to effectively act as the NRA’s bitch in the wake of any intelligent and reasonable discourse about guns in the USA. Or deny that climate change is influenced by human behavior due to the influence of the Koch Brothers and the oil lobby.
In the aftermath of Obama’s recent speech and resulting Executive Orders, it has become very clear that even when the NRA opposes measures that the majority of Americans — including the majority of gun owners — support, the GOP without fail paints doomsday pictures of an angry black Muslim coming for your guns.
Let’s take what Obama said today, and compare it to the GOP response. His executive orders are as follow:
- Expand background checks by closing loopholes which allow guns at stores, gun shows, and over the internet to be sold without background checks
- Hire more ATF agents to enforce existing gun laws
- Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system
- Shape the future of gun technology (i.e. smart guns and other technology that makes it harder for, say, children playing with guns to shoot each other. Which happens a lot in this country)
I honestly find it difficult for any reasonable human being to oppose any of these measures. And I’m not alone; check out the top comment on the NRA Facebook page, for the post they shared in response to the article:
But, predictably, the post the NRA shared blasted Obama for choosing to “engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems.” (They naturally pointed at “terrorist attack” as the pressing problem. Ouga Bouga Scary Muslims Ouga Bouga!) Equally predictably, the GOP candidates ignored the majority of the people’s agreement with these orders and lined up to place the NRA’s proverbial “schlong” (to borrow a word from Trump) in their cash-hungry mouths while spreading the typical paranoid bullshit, which would be funny if not for how much people believed it.
Some responses from the candidates:
Even Marco “Mr. Moderate” Rubio got in the mix:
You’re probably on the edge of your seat wondering what crazy thing Trump said about guns, Muslims, and how the one in the White House is coming for them. But like I said above, Trump is in the unique situation of not needing NRA money or support. What I think is most telling about the role of NRA is that as of 11 PM the day of Obama’s speech, the most quiet person was none other than the Donald, having posted nothing on his Facebook page, and only retweeting a gun-related tweet to the effect of:
And you’ll notice the tweet isn’t even in response to Obama’s executive orders themselves (but still as absurd as anything else you’d expect him to write.) Trumps lack of need for money and lack of immediate exaggerated support for the NRA are no coincidence.
The other issue where the utter hijacking of the GOP by special interests is most obvious is that of global warming. (Republicans I believe use finger air-quotes when saying “global warming”, potentially even in a Dr. Evil voice) The situation today has it such that each non-billionaire candidate must line up at the trough of the Koch Brothers and ingest their goop so as to receive their obligatory campaign donation and pat on the ass. For context, the Koch Brothers are the 5th and 6th richest Americans, whose combined assets add up to over 82 billion dollars. The source of their riches? Koch Industries, which operates primarily in the conventional energy industry.
Thus, the threat of declining popularity for conventional energy, even in the wake of, say, I don’t know, imminent harm to planet Earth, is a big no-no. So when this whole liberal fancy scientist “global warming” business came along, the Koch’s were quick to mobilize their wealth to lobby Congress and get as many politicians on board. And sure enough, the Republicans candidates who needed the cash came to play ball.
In July, the Koch Bros threw a schmooze event for GOP candidates to meet and greet, state their case, and pander shamelessly. Among the attendees were Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush. And whatever was in the Kool-Aid that night must have worked, because the candidates have since doubled down on the ridiculous notion that climate change is indeed, contrary to popular belief and this annoying thing called ‘science’, not man-made. Hell, Cruz, Rubio, Bush, and a few others even went as far as to sign a pledge started by the Koch’s not to do anything about climate change because, er, government and stuff. I shit you not. Screenshot below and link here:
It really is crazy. Much like gun control, we have a set of special interests who are convincing politicians to effectively deny a climate phenomenon that is widely accepted by the rest of the advanced world, all to ensure that their bottom lines are secure.
Missing from the event and pledge? Mr. “I don’t need your money” Trump.
Most startling may be not only the extent to which the establishment GOP’s stance on global warming no longer represents America, but even conservatives themselves. Not even self-identifying “very” conservative voters deny the man-made causes of climate change as ardently as the GOP candidates do. According to a recent Gallup poll, 73% of self-identifying “conservative” Republicans denied climate change was man-made, with 49% of “moderate” republicans believing the same. (Which is unfortunate, but oh well; setting high expectations for Republicans is to set yourself up for disappointment, so any number below 100% is cause for celebration. Also, for context, 40% of America as a whole denies climate change was man-made, which gets us into the 97% of the world’s countries who have a majority that does indeed believe climate change is man-made.)
As for the candidates, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee have all publicly rejected the notion that global warming man-made. Those include all four of the front-runners, and (as of 1/6/16), 80.4% of the primary polling numbers.
Notice the asymmetry? With conservative Republicans “not believing” in man-made climate change at the rate of 73% and moderates at 49%, the number for all Republicans has gotta be somewhere in the middle — say, 60-ish percent, meaning four out of ten Republicans have seen the light. But with the top four current candidates, and two of the next four after that, all united against reality, the likelihood of the next Republican candidate or running mate at all representing any of those 40% are slim to none.
On the issue of global warming, it seems the GOP Presidential field has out-stupid-ed its constituency. And that’s because at the end of the day, the GOP is being held by the balls by backers who want their way or the highway. Candidates can only wise up as much as their campaign finances will allow, which in many cases, is negative wise-ness.
It really is a cruel joke that the one Republican who is free from the grasps of the NRA, the Koch Bros, etc, the one Republican who would be able to reject their agendas, cater to moderates and young people, and change the image of a party who eight years ago wanted Sarah “I can see Russia from my house!!” Palin to be a 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency is … Donald Trump. We have traded the predictable talking points from special interest pawns for the only guy that can make them look like decently reasonable individuals, which may even be worse in the long run. When Ted Cruz seems like a relatively OK guy in comparison, you’ve got it pretty damn bad.
Therefore, any hope for an intellectual or cultural awakening taking place in the GOP may be futile. If Trump is the alternative to conservative special interest agendas, we may be in for a rough couple of decades. Republican voters have to choose between a plane that, while more exciting, is nosediving into the ocean (proudly sporting a “No Muslims Allowed Onboard” sign on its way down), and another whose hijackers have destined it to venture indefinitely into the status quo.
Not helping the latter’s chance is the fact that being seated next to Chris Christie would fucking suck. That’s a big boy.