Politico broke a story yesterday about Republicans using fear mongering as a fundraising (and presumably an electoral) tactic. The GOP plans to caricature Pres. Obama and the Democrats as Socialists, turning deep seated American fears of Communism into a fundraising bonanza. This is not particularly surprising, the Republicans have been flogging this Obama=Socialist message for some months. It is, however, a bit shocking to be presented with clear evidence of the abiding cynicism of the Republican Party.
Clearly, the Republican Party has used fear as an electoral strategy for years—fear of communism, fear of terrorisms, fear of socialism, fear of an imagined Muslim other—but one always hopes that it is borne by a genuine belief in what they are saying. To see that, at least in this case, the GOP is consciously using what it must realize is nonsense to raise money is ghastly.
Ghastly, intellectually dishonest, and exploitative of Americans that are facing real problems. It also shows a tipping toward the tea party movements, the largely disorganized libertarian fringe groups that the Republican party is trying to harness versus going toward the center. It would seem the moneymen in the Republican party have determined that success comes not from widening the tent, but from wringing money from a small, largely misinformed group of Americans. Call it the Glenn Beck Guide to Electoral Success and Government Suicide.
My only hope is that this gets more ink, that the word gets out about what the GOP moneymen truly think of the constituents they hope to represent. I hope it also makes plain for the American people the emptiness Republican policy proposals, because there aren't any. They aren't targeting big ticket donors talking about how they plan to be pro-business, instead they're selling access ahead of time. They aren't telling small donors what they intend to do once they regain a majority. They're just telling people what to be afraid of and who to blame for it. If I could further rip off The American President, "that ladies and gentlmen is how you win an election."
That's how you win an election, but that's not how you govern and it should be shameful (and judging by comments issued on behalf of RNC Chair Steele, it is) for any political party to so methodically prey on the fear of the American people. Of course the realpolitik response from Republicans would probably be if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Beware of charlatans and fear for the republic.