Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

LABELMANIA

In 1975, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union launched a TV campaign supporting American-made clothing. Workers—men alongside women—sang a charming ditty, “Look for the Union Label.” Given that so many jobs first fled union shops then were lost to offshoring, that label inside a garment made sense. Ultimately, the campaign failed. Americans preferred cheaper foreign-made goods. Today, we live with many other kinds of labels. They’re not working, either.

I refer to political labels. Democrat and Republican are two. You can also be a Libertarian, Green, Socialist or Communist (not many of those around). Here’s where confusion begins. Many people who register with a party aren’t members and don’t attend conventions or conferences. They don’t necessarily toe the party line, either. They use their registration to vote in primaries or caucuses. Now, states with open primaries make such registration unnecessary.

Another political label has gained prominence: Independent. Bernie Sanders used to be one. An Independent stays free of party registration or affiliation. Yet many registered Democrats and Republicans as mentioned above function as Independents. They freely cross party lines. Witness a label from the recent past: Reagan Democrats. You might even remember Dixiecrats. They became Republicans.

Labels also exist within labels. Some Democrats call themselves Progressives (Go Bernie!). Others Moderates (Go Hillary!). Or maybe also Progressives. Republicans identify as Conservatives or Tea Partiers or both. A few flirt with the label Rockefeller Republicans, i.e. Centrists. They tend to hide in the closet. Libertarians may call themselves Social Liberals and/or Economic Conservatives or downright Anarchists.

Then there are supporters of Donald Trump. Republican? Not necessarily. Conservative? Sometimes. Sometimes not. They often drift to another label: Authoritarian. Trump supporters may hold varied positions on such issues as immigration, taxes, abortion, and Muslims. But they share a deep anger at Washington. An Authoritarian leader, they believe, will disregard Congress and impose solutions. How? By being Authoritarian. Donald Trump will “make America great again” because he says he will.

Consider also Insiders and Outsiders. Congress’ popularity remains well under 20 percent. (Interestingly, the Gallup Poll of May 23–29, 2016 shows President Obama’s approval rating at 52 percent.) Many Americans believe that Congress accomplishes little to nothing because it’s composed of Insiders, also known as Politicians. Politicians’ first concern isn’t the general welfare but holding office. Not surprisingly, loyalty to their Democrat and Republican labels—thus assuring campaign funding—prevents Politicians from reaching across the aisle to get anything done.

And let’s not forget The Establishment. These rich people pull strings behind the scenes. Everyone hates The Establishment. Except everyone wants to be rich, which would make them part of The Establishment.

What to do? The philosophy of the famed comedian W.C. Fields has gained traction: “Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.” Voters can thumb their noses at The Establishment by replacing Washington Insiders with Outsiders. Although victorious Outsiders immediately become Insiders.

Labels offer easy choices between Right (your position) and Wrong (the other guy’s). Unfortunately, they keep us from thinking as individuals and approaching issues not as no-brainers but as complex. This November, we could do America a favor by dropping Labelmania and separating fantasy from reality. We might label that Patriotism.

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AND THE WINNER IS…

On Wednesday, Congress finally agreed to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. Many House Republicans yielded and joined with Democrats to end Washington’s latest stalemate. Yet TV showed House Speaker John Boehner fist pumping. “We fought the good fight,” Boehner said. “We just didn’t win.” He seemed to suggest that Republicans really didn’t lose, either. That left me curious about the political outcome.

Yesterday, The New York Times saw definite losers. “Republicans Lose a Lot to Get Little” headlined a story by Jeremy Peters. A Times editorial addressed “The Republican Surrender.” Its lead: “The Republican Party slunk away on Wednesday from its failed, ruinous strategy to get its way through the use of havoc.” But The Times represents only one voice in the United States. A brief survey of other newspapers and related websites revealed a variety of opinions—and non-opinions.

Closest to home, the San Francisco Chronicle headlined, “End of shutdown boosts Democrats.” Of course, this is Nancy Pelosi country. So I went online to get the word from between the coasts.

Dallasnews.com (The Dallas Morning News) simply stated, “Federal employees get back to work after 16-day shutdown.” No winners and losers here. Still, an editorial offered, “Budget deal is reached, but internal split is harming GOP.” Orlandosentinel.com (The Orlando Sentinel) led with, “Lock your car while pumping gas, cops warn.” I had to scroll down to find, “Post-crisis, Obama tells Congress to get to work.” Is the State of Florida in a state of denial?

Kansascity.com (The Kansas City Star) showcased a sex assault case. But an editorial—if you looked for it—asserted, “GOP political tantrum has damaged America.” Ajc.com (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) stayed with the story: “Obama: ‘American people are completely fed up.’” Columnist Jay Bookman offered the moral: “Excessive certitude proves to be a damn poor substitute for intelligence.” Memphisdailynews.com (The Daily News) led with Shelby County foreclosures dropping 10 percent in the last quarter. Again, I had to scroll for news of the agreement. Commercialappeal.com (the Memphis Commercial Appeal) didn’t run a story at all.

Only a TV news clip—from St. Louis yet—was available at cincinnati.com (The Cincinnati Enquirer). On the other hand, azcentral.com/arizonarepublic (The Arizona Republic) led with: “Obama signs bill averting default on debt, ending shutdown.” Neutral stuff. The site also ran an Associated Press report by Donna Cassata noting, “To Senate Republicans, Cruz and [Sen. Mike] Lee [Rep.–Utah] are near pariahs” but that “Among ‘tea party’ Republicans, Cruz’s popularity has climbed, from a 47 percent favorability rating in July to 74 percent, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday.” A presidential run gaining steam? The top story at deseretnews.com (Utah’s Desert News) concerned football changing the life of a teen with Asperger’s Syndrome.

After all this, I’m thinking that winning and losing is a matter of perspective. But two things seem certain. The sound we heard coming out of Washington wasn’t cheering but the clink of the can again being kicked down the road. And if anyone got the short end of the stick, it wasn’t the Republican Party—it was the American people.

In a previous version of this post, I referred to Ted Cruz as a Republican senator from Florida. Cruz represents Texas. I must have confused him with Marco Rubio. Now how could that happen? 

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Read the first three chapters of SAN CAFÉ and of SLICK!, named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the 25 Best Indie Novels of 2012, at davidperlstein.com. Order at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com or bn.com. 

MAKEOVER 101

Republicans are upset. Speaker of the House John Boehner proclaimed that President Obama is out to destroy the GOP. But the GOP’s wounds seem self-inflicted. As Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, recently declared, “We need to understand that we can’t come off as a bunch of angry white men.” All it takes is a little makeover.

As a former advertising guy, I believe that Republicans can deliver their core messages without making Americans wonder if the party is a few pinto beans short of a full burrito. Because it’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.

Abortion: Forget baby killers. This is an economic issue. The more children born in America, the more legal workers we’ll have to pay for entitlements.

Entitlements: American workers have a great opportunity to boost the economy rather than hobble it. All they need do is switch to privatized health care and retirement benefits. This will enable corporate CEOs and wizards of Wall Street—our job creators—to employ more nannies, cooks, chauffeurs and personal trainers, thus lowering unemployment.

Unemployment: Americans aren’t lazy. They’ve regrettably been disconnected from nature. The solution? Move people out of dangerous ghettos and barrios into the countryside for fresh air and healthful exercise picking America’s bounty of fruits and vegetables. This will force illegal aliens to flee and terminate our immigration problem.

Immigration: Folks who cross our borders without documentation are good people. Each is a potential ambassador who, upon being sent home—unless a proposed path to citizenship passes Congress—will spread the good word about American free enterprise. So much the better if they take their guns with them to display as tokens of our democracy and the rich culture it supports.

Gun control: Firearms (“guns” is a negative term) constitute more than a right. Firearms enable a citizen defense force (“militia” is a negative term) instantly ready to repel Al Qaeda or the Taliban—not to mention the Chinese and the United Nations. Let hostile forces attempt marine landings in Maine, Miami, Mobile or Malibu (San Francisco’s out—water’s way too cold). Or airborne assaults on Altoona, Atlanta, Abilene or Albuquerque. Americans will handle it. We have to. It takes minutes to scramble American fighter jets over Milwaukee and hours to move rapid-reaction ground forces to Austin. By then aggressors could be eating our double-bacon-double-cheeseburgers and chili fries for lunch.

Gay marriage: Every American is precious. But let’s not forget that the American family—Dad, Mom, Junior and Janie Sue—built this country. They also need our love and protection—which they didn’t get in Newtown, Connecticut because the local school board was too pansy-pink-liberal to put not just one but two armed cops in each school with a SWAT team on alert from dawn to dusk each school day. No, the people of Newtown cared more about visiting Planned Parenthood, maxing out their Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits, collecting welfare checks and coddling illegal aliens.

Whoa! Putting a happy face on the GOP might be a struggle after all. But still, it’s possible. Like calling cyanide coated in chocolate a gourmet candy—as long as we keep the Food and Drug Administration out of Americans’ business and let the marketplace decide.

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Read the first three chapters of David’s new novel, SAN CAFÉ at davidperlstein.com. SAN CAFÉ is available at iUniverse.com, Amazon.com and bn.com.