In order to secure the votes and trust of Americans at a time when they deserve neither, conservatives have begun to work on their credentials. The past decade, in which we have had zero job growth, seen horrific terrorist attacks, gone to war based on lies, and a myriad of other nightmares; has been one in which Republicans controlled the executive branch 80% of the time and the legislative branch for 60%. These facts don’t tend to lend trust. This hasn’t stopped the Republicans though, because they are willing to erase their failures and hope the public doesn’t notice. They are trying to rewrite history in such a way that removes their responsibility or erases entirely events which they find hard to excuse. Their lies are easier to catch now with the internet’s ability to log and recover events as they actually happened but this doesn’t prevent them from continuing to try.
Right now, the Republicans are engaged in a weird, pseudo-civil war with their constituents. The Tea Party movement, which started as an elaborate corporately-funded corral for keeping control over a large group of conservatives that were starting to understand that Republicans had no interest in realizing the extreme social agendas they had been clamoring for over many decades, has become something beyond the Republican’s control. Depending on the organization of the Tea Party movement, the Republicans have a big problem this November which should have been nothing more than the ceremonial changing of the guards arrangement they have with the Democrats. The Tea Party movement, with all of its paranoia, racism, and xenophobia, has to be brought back into the fold of the Republican party in order to cease becoming a regional party. A pretty broad messaging campaign has been launched which uses such baseless claims that I can only guess are being projected at people who do not care to fact-check and have only recently become politically aware.
First, these people have to be whipped into a state of fear so that defeating the cause of that fear replaces whatever agenda they might have previously had. The perfect source for this fear is of course terrorism. The nonstop fear campaign directed at Americans has been about the Fort Hood shooting, Obama’s Afghanistan decisions, Guantanamo Bay, and now the Underwear bomber. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denigrating conservatives for talking about these events. These are important topics and definitely have a place in public discourse. However, the racist and xenophobic strategy in which they are engaging doesn’t help anybody but instills fear, which disrupts reason.
All of this fear mongering doesn’t absolve oneself of any wrongdoing so Republicans are also having to spread misinformation about their own record. Once people are afraid of the Democrats handling of terror they need to know that the Republican party is the only choice for safety. Hence, we have Bush’s former Press Secretary Dana Perino stating, “We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” Suddenly, events like 9/11, the anthrax attacks, and the DC snipers are brushed aside and don’t exist. To back her up, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani says, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we’ve had one under Obama.” As if to soften the absurdity, Mary Matalin claimed, that “Bush inherited” 9/11. While still others are willing to concede that 9/11 did in fact occur under Bush’s watch, but still falsely insist that Bush kept us safe after that event.
Once a frame has been established for words like “extremist” and “radical” that brings forth an image of terrorism (and acts that Republicans are no longer responsible for by denying their existence) for the intended audience, these words can be used for other purposes. Now, calling a liberal or Democrat an extremist/radical ties those same images to people for purely political reasons, such as Allen Quist has recently done by saying “radical” liberals are a bigger threat than terrorists.
I believe this strategy is an attempt to bring the rebellious Tea Party members back into the Republican fold using fear. While I like that large segments are willing to sabotage their party of choice in order to force an agenda more in line with their values and I wish progressives would do something similar with Democrats, I think that the Tea Party movement is doomed because it’s based on falsehoods and paranoia. Whether or not the Tea Party’s inevitable collapse is conveniently timed with this year’s upcoming elections is a matter for Republican fear mongering.