There are 4 kinds of Republican Party members today with many exceptions and overlaps:
- The survivors of the dwindling old guard. These might be called the members of the Jack Kemp/Gerald Ford/William F. Buckley thoughtful, polite, educated, moderate Republican Party of old. Disclosure: All three of these men were family friends back in the day when I was both a religious right and Republican activist.
- Lots of white, older, poorly educated, not so bright ("birther" "death-panels" "Obama-is-a-Muslim-communist") white men.
- The Republican elite -- a few billionaires and think tank ideologues serving Wall Street and other corporate interests. Leading this third group are the Republicans on the Supreme Court that have sold our political system to the highest bidder.
- Dedicated true believer "pro-lifers." These include the remaining women voters who will still vote for a Republican candidate.
The Republican Elite both uses and disdains the white "rubes" as they think of their "base," but finds them useful.
The rubes are kept pliant and voting against their own interests by the Republican elite. Issues like abortion, preventing women from having access to contraception, keeping racism alive and well, right-to-carry laws for guns, anti-immigrant "English only" demands all "succeed" at keeping the frightened (mostly evangelical/fundamentalist aging) members of the white underclass on board.
The remaining Kemp/Ford/Buckley-style old guard looks the other way and pretends their party is the one they grew up in. It isn't. They stay in the fold as their party slips into uncharted far right extremism. A few like Olympia Snowe bail.
The dwindling remainder just hold their noses and plow on. They stay in the party because they sincerely still believe in one or more Republican Party "stands," from blind support for the hardliners in the State of Israel to blind support of an anti-abortion crusade. Or they stay because they are old and tired or more often than not like the tax breaks for the rich.
The billionaire elite and their servants in the "conservative" think tanks and Congress and in the Supreme Court have little to no interest in democracy. They even have little love for the United States as it is today with a black president, an expanding soon-to-be-majority brown population, a place where gays may marry, where women have been empowered and so forth. Their interest is strictly in delaying the inevitable.
The inevitable is the permanent loss of dominant white male power.
The political/corporate/think tank elite pulling the strings of the rube class is like a homeowner who knows his house has a fatal flaw but who just wants to live out his or her days undisturbed instead of moving or fixing it. So, too, the Republican elite knows that their racism, gay-bashing, anti-woman and anti-immigrant actions doom them in an America that demographically is changing.
They have no long term future and know it. So the Republican elite have descended to crude tricks to stave off the looming inevitable.
Trick 1 is to play the race card by introducing voter "fraud" initiatives that push away young and minority voters.
Trick 2 is to play the anti-woman card -- now sold as "religious liberty" -- as in the Roman Catholic bishop's "vision" of women that jibes perfectly with the threatened white lower class male view of the women (post-feminism) who are "taking my job away" and/or are "sluts" because they demand sexual freedom.
Trick 3 is the national security card. Playing this card is done by lying about how "weak" President Obama is on terror or Iran or Islam -- whatever. This trick is contradicted by the facts.
But facts aren't needed when convincing bedrock anti-abortion-in-all-cases religious extremist women and uneducated white males (being fed misinformation by the NRA and Fox "News" and talk radio) that their fear of the "other" xenophobia and anger at the "dangerous" world is justified. In fact they live in a misinformation cocoon where embryos are "persons" and handguns carried by untrained members of a "neighborhood watch" keep us "safe," global warming is "not real," gays "choose" to be gay, "evolution never happened" and the UN is "out to take away our freedoms."
If facts had anything to do with it Republicans would back programs to curb global warming. They would tell Israel to give back the West Bank and make two-state peace. They would admit that the Iraq War was a disaster for us. They would support infrastructure projects -- including keeping our post office functioning! -- and be in favor of robust public education. They would raise taxes on the rich. They would back women against the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. They would welcome immigration...
They won't do any of these things because the Republican Party elite is depending on uneducated aging frightened white males and radical anti-abortion females for their votes. Long term the party is doomed. In the short term 2012 election if their billionaires can do it they will destroy our first black president and our country and take us all with them.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back Frank is on a speaking tour. To book him contact Frankschaeffer.com