Some Republicans have the annoying habit of calling us “the Democrat Party.” It’s an old slur, dating back to the 1940s and 1950s.
Maybe “slur” is too strong a word. “Democrat Party” is more an insulting, annoying, derisive epithet. It conjures up “autocrat” or “bureaucrat” or just plain “rat.”
When he was Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich used it a lot. Which tells you all you need to know.
But it’s clear now there is more significance to Republicans’ use of the term. It says far more about them than about Democrats. In fact, it betrays the true nature of many Republican politicians – and especially the moneyed people pulling their strings: They don’t want America to be Democratic, because they damn sure don’t want it to be democratic.
Webster defines democracy as “government by the people, directly or through representatives.”
In North Carolina, that’s the last thing the Republican politicians who run the legislature want. They want government run by them and them alone, with no interference from the pesky people.
That explains voter suppression, gerrymandering, vote-rigging, encroachment on the Governor’s Constitutional powers and – now – their determination to rig, pack, politicize, intimidate and ultimately control the courts.
It’s happening across the country, in state after state after state. It’s not happenstance. It’s part of a decades-long strategy hatched by academics (especially economist James McGill Buchanan, who got his start resisting school desegregation in Virginia in the 1950s), financed by a handful of billionaires (like the Kochs) and carried out with cold, relentless precision by politicians willing to sell their souls for money and power (you know who they are).
A new book, “Democracy in Chains” by Nancy MacLean (the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University) traces what she calls “the deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America.” Her bottom line is that, while it masks its goal as “liberty:”
“…what this cause really seeks is a return to oligarchy, to a world in which both economic and effective political power are to be concentrated in the hands of a few. It would like to reinstate the kind of political economy that prevailed in America at the opening of the twentieth century, when the mass disenfranchisement of voters and the legal treatment of labor unions as illegitimate enabled large corporations and wealthy individuals to dominate Congress and state legislatures alike, and to feel secure that the nation’s courts would not interfere with their reign.”
In light of this, here’s the question for Democrats today – the Democratic Party: Is the better strategy to battle Republicans on policy – or on politics? Policy is complicated. Witness health care. Politics is much simpler. Just show that your opponents are corrupt, crooked, power-hungry, ruthless political hacks who care far more about their stupendously wealthy financiers than the people they were supposedly (but unconstitutionally, through illegal gerrymandering) elected to serve.
Fight for democracy, Democrats.