by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
When a right wing Democrat occupies the White House it does stranger things to Republicans than the full moon does to werewolves. If history is any guide, it doesn't do much positive for the rest of us either....
Like Bill Clinton, Obama Drives Crazy Republicans Even Crazier
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
We've seen this movie before. The last time Republicans outside the White House were this outrageously loony was also the last time a right wing Democrat lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Much like a later Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Clinton campaigned as “The Man From Hope” encouraging his supporters to believe he stood for redirecting the vast sums spent on the Cold War, after the fall of the Soviet Union, to domestic programs like housing, high speed rail, and that “Marshall Plan For The Cities” that the Congressional Black Caucus of that era used to talk about.
But throughout his career Bill Clinton openly bragged about stealing Republican policy positions from “ending welfare as we know it” to balancing the federal budget on the backs of the poor, to NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Act.
Three things happen when a corporate right wing Democrat steals Republican positions.
The first is that because of the two-party duopoly, when a Democrat moves rightward, his constituents have nowhere else to go. Democrats and Republicans have cooperated, in most of the fifty states, to throw up massive barriers to ballot access for third parties, and by requiring big money to access broadcast and cable networks, the corporations who fund both parties limit public discussion to what their corporate funded politicians are saying.
Freed from the need to represent the have-nots, who must now vote for him no matter what he does, or an even worse Republican, the right-leaning Democratic president can now claim he is looking for “the center,” or to pick up Republican-leaning voters. In the Clinton era, these sought-after voters were called “Reagan Democrats,” and Clinton got a lot of them in 1996.
The second thing that happens when corporate Democrats steal the policies of Republicans, is that since they nominally represent the have-nots, who now have nowhere else to go, they are often more effective at imposing Republican policies upon the polity.
NAFTA had failed to pass a Democratic dominated Congress twice under the first President Bush, but with a popular Democrat in the White House working the phones, it passed with a solid Republican vote and a split among Democrats. Reagan and Bush had long railed against mythical “welfare queens” but it took Bill Clinton to “end welfare as we know it.”
Similarly, George Bush was unable to get his own bailout bill through Congress in the fall of 2008. He had to call in candidate Barack Obama to work the phones and meet with reluctant Democrats, including the black caucus, and get them to switch their votes. A few months later, President Barack Obama was able to more than double down on the Bush bailout, giving the banksters at least $15 billion where Bush had only given them $3 billion. Obama raised the military budget, just as Bush would have done if he had a third term, passed laws to make torture and kidnapping, imprisonment without trial and presidential murder “legal,” protected BP from any serious liability in the Gulf oil disaster, and invaded an African country, all feats that would have done the Bush-Cheney crime family proud.
The third thing that happens when a Democrat in the White House steals the policies of Republicans, is that Republicans go butt naked crazy.
Like the Democrats, Republicans are utterly dependent on corporate dollars, and their job, just like that of corporate Democrats is to deliver their the clout of their voters to their campaign contributors, whom they share and share pretty much alike with Democrats.
What the two parties don't much share are voters. In their eagerness to distinguish themselves from rightward encroaching Democrats stealing their clothes, Republicans are obliged first to make themselves look foolish by insisting that no matter what his actual policies, the Democrat really, really is still a flaming leftist. As with Obama today, 90s congressional Republicans never tired of insisting that Bill Clinton was really some kind of socialist.
To put distance between themselves and the right-leaning Democrat in the White House, Republicans appeal to racism, homophobia, invented histories and warmongering. When Bill Clinton was forcing mothers on welfare to leave their children at home for minimum wage jobs, Newt Gingrich advocated putting those children in old fashioned workhouses. It's a kind of balance, really. For the system to appear legitimate, someone has to pretend to look like a grownup, even an evil one. Republicans have given up on that for the season.
Democrats from the White House down, who cannot justify their own right-leaning policies to their bases, can prolong their careers by pointing to Republican antics as proof that even worse could happen if they are not re-elected ---- imagine if one of those craaaazy Republicans got in? Where would we be then?
Republican craziness has a proximate cause. We really have seen this before. It's a right wing Democrat encroaching on their policy turf. As long as a White House Democrat keeps stealing their clothes, Republicans will have nowhere else to go except further rightward, naked and crazy.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party, Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.