The GOP faces a major dilemma in the upcoming presidential election. Before I get into that, let’s define what I mean by “The GOP.” First, I don’t mean most of their public figures. Their elected officials for the most part are bought and paid for employees by those who run the Party. They have neither an independent voice nor independent power (as much as certain Tea Party GOP front men and women may think they do, this is not the case). Second, the GOP is not the propaganda channel – otherwise known as the Fox”News”Channel – nor is it the order-giver, Roger Ailes. For Ailes takes his orders from those above him. Third, the GOP is not their raft of paid political consultants and celebrity figures like Sara Palin, Donald Trump and Christian Reconstructionist Mike Huckabee. (Want to know why he didn’t run this time around? His connections to that replace-the-Constitution-with-Biblical-Law-the-way-we-see-it organization would certainly have come out this time around.) The GOP is on the other hand, a highly secretive group.
Two of GOP’s few public figures are Karl Rove and Reince Priebus. Rove is of course a major fundraiser and he is also the developer of the goal for a “Permanent Republican Majority.” He failed in this attempt, although this may have not been his real goal anyway. He appears to be on this way to achieving a “Permanent Republican Government,” however, at both the federal and state levels, which is one of the sources of the GOP presidential dilemma. Reince Priebus is the recently appointed Chair of the Republican National Committee. One of his major claims to fame is his drafting of a model state legislation aimed at significantly reducing minority, youth, and working-class voting. This legislation has been passed and is on it’s way to being enacted in many of the states in which the GOP took control of both the legislative and executive branches in the 2010 elections.
And then there are the Koch Brothers, the poster boys, willingly or not, for the ultra-rich capitalist class that has taken control of major parts of the US economy and is milking it for every last dollar of profits that they can lay their hands on.
But the real power of the GOP lies in highly secretive groups. One of them is the National Council for Policy. According to Source Watch (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Council_for_National_Policy): “The Council for National Policy is a secretive forum that was formed in 1981 by Tim LaHaye as a networking tool for leading US conservative political leaders, financiers and religious right activist leaders. The group, which meets three times a year, promotes, “Educational conferences for national leaders in the fields of business, government, religion and academia to explore national policy alternatives.” Weekly newsletters are distributed to all members to keep them apprised of member activities and public policy issues. A semi-annual journal is produced from membership meeting speeches. In 2001, ABC News reported: “The CNP describes itself as a counterweight against liberal domination of the American agenda.” Others are not so kind to the organization and its motives. Mark Crispin Miller states that the CNP is a ‘highly secretive… theocratic organization — what they want is basically religious rule’ (A Patriot Act). Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told the New York Times about the CNP meeting ahead of the 2004 Republican National Convention: “The real crux of this is that these are the genuine leaders of the Republican Party, but they certainly aren’t going to be visible on television next week.” Another secretive group is the Koch Brothers’ fundraising machine, which seems not to have a name, publicly at least, although it could be called Citizens United’s Little Boys. One can be certain that there are a number of other GOP backroom organizations that are indeed truly secret.
And so, what is their dilemma? In a sentence who would they rather have sitting in the Oval Office just after noon on January 20, 2013 – The present White House occupant or one of the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time-bunch who have declared their run for the GOP Presidential nomination. If Rove wants a permanent Republican government in terms of GOP policy he is well on this way to getting it, certainly in foreign policy (Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, China, Russia, the European Union, and last but certainly not least, Israel). On taxes, they are screaming for more cuts, but they already have had a bunch. What they call “big government” is miniscule compared to that of virtually every other advanced capitalist country. The 19th Century Prussian Chancellor Bismarck, who created the world’s first national health insurance system in the 1880s, would himself be appalled at what passes for national health care policy in this country. As for the “safety net” and the so-called “welfare state,” again by comparison the former has many more holes than net and the latter doesn’t exist in the same sense that it exists by any measure of comparison elsewhere. Adolf Hitler, probably the greatest practitioner of Keynesian economics ever to hit the world stage, would be scratching his head over the dismal level of government investment in the US economy. So that’s what they’ve got.
And they’ve got in the White House, someone who in the end, goes along with them on most things. He may make some liberal/”progressive” noises now and then, but over and over again, on health care reform (which ended up as major government subsidy for the private health insurance companies”), on repealing the Bush tax cuts, on withdrawing from Afghanistan, on closing Guantanamo, about doing nothing serious about climate change (except over at a courageous EPA), about nuclear power (big subsidies, but minimal for renewable), about being serious about rooting out the evils of Wall St. and sending at least some of the perpetrators to prison, about going after the torturers and more importantly the ones who wrote the rules they followed, and so on. The President has been the one getting shoved. (What he does in the end about the debt ceiling, GOP-let’s-drown-what’s-left-of-the-Federal-government-that-we-don’t-like-in-the-bathtub, al a Grover Norquist, [doesn’t include the truly big ticket items like the foreign and domestic [read “Drug”] wars], blackmail attempt remains to be seen.) In all of this, Obama has been generally following the policies of the old Democratic Leadership Council, whose former Director, Al From, recently came out with a statement generally praising GOP policies.
And what is the kicker for them? When all of their policies produce the predictable negative results, they can just turn around and blame Obama, and blame Obama, and blame Obama (who would continue to respond with “we’ve got to change the way Washington works,” not ever anything like “you know, folks, it’s Republican policies which are to blame, and let me tell you why”). Which blame hits the echo chamber of the propaganda channel and hits the equally useless real world of real people with real suffering “on-the-one-hand-this-and-on-the-other-hand-that “of most of the other news outlets. So given the available talent, knowledge, and skill level of their potential candidates, there is a strong temptation to stick with what they’ve got until 2016. By that time, the country will be in much worse mess, which they would blame of course entirely on the President, and they could then triumphantly bring in the next Bush, who would win and then make things even worse. But that’s another story.
So why would they want the Presidency? Three primary reasons: First of all, to get control of environmental regularity policy (financial regulatory policy having changed not very much). Obama, particularly with his oil-industry connected man over at the Interior, Ken Salazar, has not been outstanding on environmental regulation (mountain-top removal continues unabated, as does fracking — poison the New York City water supply, anyone?). But, any GOP Administration would be even worse, which is just what the Koch’s want. Second of all, cementing their control over the federal judiciary. They have blocked countless Obama nominees to the District and Circuit Courts and will continue to do so. Most of those vacancies would all be open in 2013, as well as, most likely, at least one liberal seat on the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsburg). Third, they would get all their hacks back into the various non-career positions in the federal bureaucracy, like the former lobbyist for the beef and dairy industry who wrote the last (totally fake) food pyramid for the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services that has been, thankfully, replaced by the dinner plate.
However, and it a very big however, if the GOP gets the presidency while retaining their majority in the House (which they likely would if they gain the Presidency) and, whether or not they regain a majority and retain effective control of the Senate, which they have had for most of the Obama Presidency, they would eventually be blamed for all that would eventually go wrong. O’RHannibaugh would be able to blame it all on Obama, and they would try very hard to do so, for just so long. This, even if the Democrats were to abandon their opposite-of-Lee-Atwater political mantra: Never Attack; Always Defend.
So there’s the dilemma for the real GOP. And through voter suppression and vote-tampering Rove/Priebus can make the election turn out pretty much either way. Stay tuned, folks. This one will be fascinating to watch.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for Truthout/BuzzFlash (http://www.truth-out.org/, http://www.buzzflash.com), Dr. Jonas is also Managing Editor and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine; a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad; a Senior Columnist for The Greanville POST; a Contributor to Op-Ed News.com; a Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter; and a Contributor to The Planetary Movement.