When I was a Republican/religious right activist many years ago Reagan made us proud by being upbeat about America, politics and our place in the world. The Republican Party (rightly or wrongly) was all about a great optimistic future. Reagan and people like my friend Jack Kemp counted on the strength of their arguments to carry the day.
Not any more. Today the Republican Party has nothing to offer but nostalgia for perpetual whites only rule. They are empty suits counting on inertia and dirty politics of the lowest form to "win."
So instead of ideas, optimism and leadership here's what today's Republicans are counting on to win, no matter what their candidate says dismissively about the 47% of moochers he's called those of us not born into the millionaire club. Usually when a candidate tells America to go to Hell he'd lose. Maybe not. The Republicans still have a few tricks up their sleeve.
- That no matter how bad a candidate Romney is the billionaires can still buy the election for him by burying President Obama in negative ads and outspending him by 75% in PAC donations
- That enough Americans are closet racists so that no matter what they tell pollsters they want anyone but the black man in the White House to succeed
- That voter suppression nationwide as a systematic tactic will deny enough elderly, black, Hispanic, and young voters the vote to tip the balance in favor off the Republicans by default
- That Fox News can help deliver enough big lies often enough to keep the "base" fired up
- That the Israel lobby and the Christian Zionists can stir up enough paranoia about the President being "anti-Israel" to bring many Jews and almost all Evangelicals to the polls figuring they are "saving" Israel from Iran
- That Republican congressional obstruction will pay off in the end because they have successfully slowed the economic recovery
- That Americans are so ignorant of foreign affairs that they won't be able to pick out all the lies re the President's "weakness" and "appeasement" of the Muslim countries
- That the Republicans can spin the ongoing economic recovery as bad news
- That enough Americans are homophobic enough so that the Republicans can use the President's support of gay marriage against him
- That enough Americans are misogynistic enough so that their relentless anti-women agenda can pay off
- That enough Americans hate Hispanics so that the Republican's anti-immigrant agenda can pay off
- That the defense industry can weigh in to protect the 10 great years of war profiteering they'd like extended indefinitely
- That the Supreme Court decision to open the floodgates to secret donations will carry the day
- That a party for by and of rich white old guys can use the "old boys" club one last time to pull the election out of the fire
- That if they get lucky the Middle East will blow up and they can blame the President and that no one will mention that 9/11 happened on W's watch after he ignored repeated warnings from the CIA
- That there will be bad economic news, the worse the better
- And that the most lie-filled politics since Nixon will work because money, bigotry and ignorance can be counted on.
Can an entirely negative campaign based on hate, political dirty tricks and misinformation succeed? Maybe. I hope not.
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.