You’ve been to college perhaps, you keep up with the news, you read a book occasionally, and you know at least vaguely how the copy machine works. Since President Obama resuscitated the economy George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans mauled and mangled until it ended up in the emergency room, you may even have gainful employment. But you can’t for the life of you fathom why your favorite Republican right-winger says brazenly incorrect, borderline insane, crudely repugnant things.
Let me help.
Liberals, god bless them, always wanting to be perceived as rational, informed, knowledgeable and deliberative just cannot seem to wrap their heads around people who voluntarily, even zestily say things that make specialists, experts, thoughtful or educated citizens cringe, or even mini-stroke. But they’re looking at it all wrong.
First, those cringing and stroking are outside the congregation Republicans are preaching to, and in fact, your average Republican is indifferent toward them, if not entirely scornful. His ripe plum for the picking is the euphemistically identified low information voter.
Second, and more important, one must remember that not only do Republicans toil almost exclusively for business, finance and major corporations, theirs is a sales and business culture. In fact, a hard sell culture. What they’re selling may have nothing to do with commerce. It may have to do with cultural matters like reproductive rights. But the salesmanship instincts, and the sales practices remain the same.
Here’s a key to the thinking: the more dubious the product, the more pride there is in successfully selling it. In the sales culture, it doesn’t take Casanova like seduction to sell an iphone, or a 50-inch smart television. But if you’re looking to move plastic onion choppers, that’s going to take some, uh, sales chops.
David Mamet’s play, Glengarry Glen Ross, also a film, is superb at illuminating this culture, often in brutally stark fashion. In one scene, Alex Baldwin’s character, the emissary from Mitch and Murray, tells the beleaguered salesmen, “It takes brass balls to sell real estate.” Yes, and it takes titanium ones to sell climate denial. But that’s what wins you the car, or at least the set of steak knives.
In this culture, one person, the salesperson is crafty, resourceful, glib, and ultimately, successful. The other one, inevitably and always, almost as if it were god’s plan, which some Republicans surely believe it is, must be the sucker. Perhaps the professional nomenclature should be: the mark.
Freedom means, you have the choice to be the hard seller in this transaction, or the mark, and life according to this ethos, always will be a transaction. Or let’s say, nature has bequeathed you with so few intellectual gifts, you’re going to be the mark no matter what. If you’ve chosen not to be the hard seller, or if nature has made you gullible, how could it be immoral to sell you anything you can be persuaded to buy?
If what you have as a political party to offer the voting public is skimpy taxes on the wealthy, diminished government services, stingy investment in the middle class, corporate subsidies, low wages, voter suppression and a decimated safety net, including abolition of Social Security and Medicare, burly testicles and a forked tongue extraordinaire are going to come in awfully handy.
Indeed, you might come up with something like voter fraud, or something along the lines of all Americans expect to be rich someday, so they want to keep taxes low for the rich just in case. Or, one of my personal favorites: if this winter is so cold icicles are forming on the witches’ teats, and the brass monkeys’ balls are frozen, how could the Earth be getting warmer?
And then there’s Ayn Rand. The degree to which Ayn Rand is the inspiration to today’s radical Republican Party cannot be overstated. Who are the gods of the Ayn Rand universe, those who embody man’s highest aspirations? Business people.
In this universe, strength and triumph are aspirational, not cooperation and community. The latter are for the weak, and the weak-minded. The losers. The suckers. Selfishness is a virtue. Greed is a moral good. Adam Smith is the misquoted, misunderstood, misconstrued justifier.
Ayn Rand’s phony philosophy and crackpot moralism is the rationalizing currency an entire political movement craves and spends, a movement that wants to place plutocrats and oligarchs and corporate hegemonists in a position of unimpeachable domination, and stratify the country into the masters and drones. Cheney Shrugged.
The canny Rand, as slippery a huckster as ever there was, also remained staunchly atheistic. So there’s no messy Christian charity interfering with balls to the wall greed, no righteous aversion to worldliness, no suspicion of manna and materialism to get in the way. In this moral system, morality dictates not respect, dignity and understanding for the poor, but the accusation of moral squalor and deserved penury. It’s a moral obligation to scorn them, and for their own good.
This would seem to be quite the knotty dilemma for our ostentatiously godly, Jesus-bragging Republican friends. But lo and behold, our favorite right-wing nabobs, our verbose backbench Babbitts have just discovered Austrian School Economics in the Bible, and the Constitution. Whewww!
This culture, by the way, is also something of a southern culture, which certainly helps explain why the South is the Republican redoubt it has now become. The plantation culture made a rather slick and subtle transformation from plantation owners to country club gentry and local business pooh-bahs who hold a grip on their towns and cities and states like feudal overlords.
God made slaves inferior to you for a reason, and you were only right to assume the position of superiority you did. Same goes now for the assembly line workers in your McNuggets plant, the retail clerks in your furniture store, and the fellows cutting the county’s grass. The meek shall not inherent the piney country club golf courses, or Spanish moss draped city councils.
Satan must be fought to his knees, that awful federal government, with its OSHA and voting rights-minded Justice Department sniffing around.
Second only to communism in its all-encompassing materialism, and dependence upon the philistinism of its proponents, this ism, whatever it is, doesn’t care much about the dignity of labor itself, or the intrinsic value of teachers or artists or caregivers, only for the denomination of the bills they are getting for wages (as low as possible ideally) and the federal income taxes they don’t make enough to owe.
To those of us with lowly, prosaic moral inclinations, health care unaffordable for, and unavailable to millions is both a depredation and a reversible tragedy.
On the other hand, if God, Milton Friedman and Ludwig Von Mises intended for you to have your life saved by decent, affordable health insurance, you would have careened down the birth canal with a pair of brass balls, a self-cleaning conscience, and an Ayn Rand microchip in your head.