It's lucky for the Republicans that most general elections fall so close to Halloween. That gives them an excuse for their great bi-annual GOP Halloween Masquerade Ball.
This year the Republicans are doing their very best to prevent the voters from remembering who they really are and what they really stand for. They're putting on their "moderate masks" and the costumes of ordinary middle class Americans.
Why do they have to pretend to be something their not? Their problem is that most Americans disagree with their positions on just about every economic and social issue of the day. Voters disagree with Republicans on economic issues like:
- GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage;
- GOP refusal to renew unemployment benefits to the long-term unemployed;
- GOP obstruction of Democratic proposals to lower payments and cut interest rates on student loans;
- The incredibly unpopular GOP proposal to eliminate the Medicare guarantee and replace it with a voucher for private insurance;
- The failed GOP proposal to privatize Social Security;
- GOP opposition to making oil companies, CEO's of big corporations and Wall Street Banks pay their fair share of taxes;
- GOP proposals to cut funding for public education;
- GOP proposals to cut funding for medical and scientific research and development;
- Republican support for eliminating and weakening regulations that limit the ability of Wall Street speculators to cause another financial collapse like the one that created the Great Recession;
- Republican support for tax laws that provide an incentive for corporations to outsource U.S. jobs to other countries;
- The Republican refusal to do anything that would address the fundamental economic fact that even though Gross Domestic Product per person in the U.S. has increased 80% over the last 30 years, all of that increase went to the top 1% and left everyone else with stagnating incomes.
Dressing up Republican candidates to disguise these positions is especially difficult because so many of their candidates personally embody these deeply unpopular stances.
Take the GOP candidate for Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner. Rauner made $61 million last year -- that's $29,000 an hour. Yet he said he would like to abolish the minimum wage or at the very least get the Illinois legislature to cut the Illinois minimum wage from $8.25 to the national rate of $7.25 per hour.
Rauner made his money as a Wall Street speculator who basically took over companies and bled them of cash. Along the way his 200-facility nursing home chain was accused of malpractice for patient neglect. Rather than apologize and pay the claims, Rauner's investment firm sold the firm to a shell company that was actually owned by a nursing home resident and declared bankruptcy so Rauner's investment firm could dodge paying the claims of abused residents.
That's just one of many stories about how Rauner made his money. Rauner owns nine residences -- including a penthouse on Central Park in New York and three ranches. Pretty tough to put a "middle class" costume on Rauner and pretend he has the interests of ordinary Americans at heart.
Or then there's the GOP Senate candidate in Georgia -- David Perdue. Early in the campaign -- and well before the GOP masquerade ball -- Perdue actually admitted that he had "spent most of his career outsourcing" American jobs to other countries.
Those pesky electronic media that save comments like that make it awfully hard to dress up people like Perdue as a "neighborhood businessman" when elections come around.
The economy may be the issue that is most important to the majority of voters, but women's health isn't far behind. And there the GOP has candidates that look downright weird in their "hi, I'm a moderate" Halloween outfits.
Jodi Ernst, the Republican candidate for Senate in Iowa supports the "personhood" amendment. That's a proposal that would make most forms of hormonal birth control -- like the birth control pill and the IUD -- illegal.
Cory Gardner, the GOP candidate for Senate in Colorado also supports the "personhood" amendment.
Earth to Jodi and Cory -- your positions are way out of the mainstream in the United States, since over 98 percent of American women use birth control sometime in their lifetime. If they really wanted to wear something appropriate to the GOP Halloween masquerade ball this year they would wear space suits -- since their positions are pretty much in outer space. But in fact they have donned costumes aimed at making them look every so "mainstream." Don't bet on closing ads from these guys asking voters to support them because they would ban the most popular forms of birth control.
Then there are candidates like GOP House Members Tom Cotton and Bill Cassidy, running for Senate in Arkansas and Louisiana, respectively. These guys voted for the Ryan budget that would eliminate Medicare and replace it with a voucher for private insurance -- costing seniors thousands per year in increased out-of-pocket costs.
They try to hide their positions behind a "Big Lie" mask that Democrats voted to "cut $700 billion" from Medicare with the Affordable Care act. In fact, far from cutting benefits for seniors, the Affordable Care Act closed the "donut hole" for prescription drug coverage and provided free preventive care to complement guaranteed Medicare benefits. It paid for these benefits partially by cutting subsidies to big insurance companies. Those are the "cuts to Medicare" Cotton and Cassidy are talking about. Not one senior had benefits cut. It's nothing but a big lie. But what do you do if your real position is as unpopular as their vote to eliminate the Medicare guarantee?
And we can't forget about Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the state house who is running for Senate in North Carolina. He led passage of an incredibly unpopular series of measures to curtail voting rights and also prevented the expansion of Medicaid that would provide health care to many in the state. Now he's trying to weave and bob to disguise his position on these and other way-out GOP positions.
And of course, there is the unpopular Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who is running for his political life in Kentucky. He claims to want to rip out "Obamacare root and branch" while maintaining he would support continuation of the very popular and effective Kentucky version of "Obamacare" -- "Kynect." This, of course, is an impossibility. Guess he's counting on a magician's costume to make the contradictions in his positions disappear.
These are just the highlights from the "red carpet" at the GOP Halloween Masquerade Ball. There are many other attendees:
- Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin -- now desperately trying to explain how his state's austerity program could have failed to produce its promised 250,000 new jobs, when neighboring Minnesota progressive policies have led to a much more robust recovery.
- Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan -- whose "emergency manager" program stripped democratic local government from much of the state's minority population.
- Michigan Senate Candidate Terri Lynn Land, whose conservative economic policies are very popular among plutocrats on Wall Street, but have landed her well behind her Democratic opponent in the polls of ordinary citizens.
- Governor Mike Rounds of South Dakota whose Wall Street-oriented economic policies have run into trouble among the prairie populists of South Dakota where he's now running for Senate.
- Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas whose tax cuts for the wealthy have almost bankrupted the state government and are helping to drag down long-time Republican Senator Pat Robertson.
- And there's Florida's multi-millionaire governor Rick Scott. Scott has dutifully taken the side of the oil industry and the billionaire Koch Brothers even though their opposition to proposals to curb carbon pollution could sink a good portion of Florida's most populous communities into the ocean.
- And there are dozens of Republican House Members who are trying desperately to get voters to forget about their votes to shut down the government, end the Medicare guarantee, and cut funding for education.
Almost 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks when someone buys a gun. Not the Republicans.
Most Americans support campaign finance reform that would prevent a few dozen billionaires from dominating our elections. Not the Republicans.
Most Americans want us to invest more funds in health research to protect us from diseases like Ebola, cancer and the flu. Not the Republicans.
Most Americans support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Not the Republicans. This year, the GOP even prevented a vote in the House on a bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate. House GOP Speaker Boehner wouldn't allow a vote because he knew it would pass. Basically he is thwarting the will of Congress.
Will the Republican Halloween Masquerade Ball deceive enough Americans into thinking the GOP represents them, instead of the coalition of Wall Street Bankers and radical extremists who want to ban birth control and scapegoat immigrants that provide the foundation for the Republican Party? Will their costumes and masks convince enough voters to allow them to gain control of the Senate, win more seats in the House and overcome Democratic leads for key Governor's mansions around the country?
We'll all know a week from Tuesday. But the truth is that there would not be a chance that their disguises would succeed if everyone in America went to the polls.
The truth is that, in the end, this election is all about who votes and who stays home.
The big Wall Street banks and CEO's don't want ordinary people to wake up. They want us to sleep through the election so they can elect Republicans who will allow them to siphon more and more of the fruits of our economy into their own pockets.
Don't let them steal your family's security while you sleep through the election. It's really up to us. Vote early. Vote by mail. Vote November 4.
But whatever you do, don't let them win their game of deception. Vote.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.