When Richard Nixon attempted to reinvent himself after consecutive electoral losses and an accompanying reputation as a sore-losing demagogue and reptilian opportunist his campaign conjured up promotions that referred to “a new Nixon”. Well, there’s an even newer Nixon, and his name is Mitt Romney.
Watching tapes of Romney’s range of positions on virtually every single issue, taking diametrically opposite positions from earlier ones as easily as he breathes air is staggering to the point of making jaws drop. All but renouncing several years of hard line extremist rhetoric with a performance of moderation before god and everybody on a debate stage reminded one that even in politics no one expects craven opportunism as malodorous as his. Nixon would have been abashed at brazenness as contemptuous of citizens and democracy as that (even while he envied it, no doubt).
There is probably nothing more central or second nature to Romney’s and his fellow Republicans’ politics than the embrace of salesmanship and the rationalization of lying, misinformation and deception as really just the art of selling. Of course it is a kind of selling that lends sales its occasionally gamey aroma. In the Republican Party’s business and corporate culture the moral dimension not only is lacking but explicitly doesn’t belong: the mantra is some variation on “it’s just business,” or “it’s only politics”.
One can effortlessly infer that Romney believes it is both smart politics and perfectly legitimate, and without dishonesty within the political realm to say anything to fit the occasion. It also reflects a certain corporate or businessman’s view that voters are merely consumers, and consumers can be sold. Can you sell it is the only pertinent question, and it isn’t a moral one. Indeed, Republicans view lying (salesmanship) now as some new super-weapon that is a cross between kryptonite and fission. And in fact chronic, uninhibited lying is a bear to contend with as an unprepared Obama recently found out.
The sales pitch that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan promise they care about the jobless and the middle class or about the elderly and ordinary Americans’ wages, deeply touching as it is, is a con everyone who has observed the Republican Party with any degree of attention for the last thirty years is entirely familiar with, recognizing that approximating concern for others while intending to do the exclusive bidding of owners, bosses, investors and fat cats has been the modus operandi for whatever success Republicans have recently managed. The Dr. Jekyll evincing reverence for the safety net or agony about the nefariousness of debt rather briskly after election day becomes the Mr. Hyde who chases after the vulnerable with a baseball bat and pushes schemes (I mean reforms) such as privatizing Social Security or voucherizing Medicare or sticking wars and defense largesse on the credit card (See: the last three Republican administrations and their severe increasing of deficits).
Republicans’ all is fair in love, war and politics banishment of decency and morality aside, telling America you care about the sick and the old and the middle class when in fact implementation of your policies will guarantee additional struggle for all of them isn’t just contemptible, it’s evil. Telling Americans your policies will expand the economy when in the past they have failed to do so, telling Americans you will improve their wages when your policies have encouraged just the opposite, telling Americans you will rein the deficit in when your policies consistently have increased it, telling Americans out of one side of your mouth you care about their tax burden while shifting more of it onto their backs in favor of easing it for the wealthy for thirty years, excoriating half of them for failing to “take responsibility and care for their lives” when they pay a disproportionate amount of their income in regressive taxes is certainly salesmanship and is just as certainly morally depraved.
Of course one can honestly say the Republican Party is incredible. It’s certainly an incredible reality where a majority of Republican rank and file believes President Obama is a Muslim, disbelieves evolution and global warming science, believes taxes can go down and revenues go up at the same time among other zany beliefs. It’s certainly an incredible reality where players in casino finance are job creators and the salt of the earth while 47% are deadbeats. It’s certainly an incredible reality where Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises are founding mother and father.
Condos in the gator-infested bogs of Florida, anyone? Buyer beware.