Monday, October 28, 2013

A look inside GOP bubble world - (pt. 2 in Wisconsin)

After looking at the focus groups of 3 Republican groups in part 1 of this look inside GOP bubble-world, let's take this information, and see how it works here in Wisconsin. You'll see why the Wisconsin version the Republicans studied continue to "Stand with Walker", despite all empirical evidence showing the man and his administration to be a corrupt failure, even when Walker often is holding big-government positions in clear contrast to what the GOP groups allegedly believe in.

Let's go back to the main thesis that Democracy Corps has (you can read the entire report here, and it's worth it), which is that many Republicans feel that Democrats are in control in the U.S., and therefore, folks like them don't have a role in the country's future.
Understand that the base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country – and their starting reaction is “worried,” “discouraged,” “scared,” and “concerned” about the direction of the country – and a little powerless to change course. They think Obama has imposed his agenda, while Republicans in DC let him get away with it.

We know that Evangelicals are the largest bloc in the base, with the Tea Party very strong as well. For them, President Obama is a “liar” and “manipulator” who has fooled the country. It is hard to miss the deep disdain—they say the president is a socialist, the “worst president in history,” and “anti-American.”...

Evangelicals who feel most threatened by trends embrace the Tea Party because they are the ones who are fighting back..
So when Scott Walker refuses to take Obamacare's expanded Medicaid money and high-speed rail money in Obama's stimulus package, it's a way to play "stick it to 'em" to Obama and the Dems associated with him. As mentioned in my previous post IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THE RESULT OF THAT POLICY HURTS WISCONSIN, because in the mind of these folks, at least someone is standing up for them. Scott Walker knows how to manipulate the bitter emotions of these folks, and he and his handlers know that in right-wing bubbleworld, it's OK to have state go down the drain and accept the lies and corruption that have been endemic to the Age of Fitzwalkerstan, because at least they kept their state in the way that they liked it. It also explains how Scott Walker (whose next "open to the public" event outside of the 262 might be his first) can call himself "Unintimidated", because it plays with the put-upon sense that these people have- a feeling that there's some kind of left-wing cabal in charge of things in the country that's keeping good folks like them down.

The following passage is especially true for the dead-red and extremely white counties around Milwaukee, where the fervent support for Republicans goes hand-in-hand with an anger at "those people" in the inner city.
[What] elicits the most passions among Evangelicals and Tea Party Republicans – that big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes. The Democratic Party exists to create programs and dependency – the food stamp hammock, entitlements, the 47 percent. And on the horizon—comprehensive immigration reform and Obamacare. Citizenship for 12 million illegals and tens of million getting free health care is the end of the road.

These participants are very conscious of being white and valuing communities that are more likeminded; they freely describe these programs as meant to benefit minorities. This is about a Democratic Party expanding dependency among African Americans and Latinos, with electoral intent. That is why Obama and the Democrats are prevailing nationally and why the future of the Republic is so at risk.

They associate the Democrats with government dependence and talk pointedly about welfare recipients who demand too much and take advantage of the system.
This can be expanded into any group that is doing better than them, and it makes these right-wingers willing to knock down their fellow citizen in order to make sure everyone else feels the same pains and worries that they do. When seen through this lens, hurting public sector unions (and especially teachers) is a way to make sure "those people" get hurt the same way they have in their jobs over the last 10 years. down. The extra bonus is that it gives Walker the latitude to give his campaign contributors an opening to steal away with a whole lotta money in the process.

And if these people start to have doubts, they also know what'll soothe them.
And thank God they have Fox News – and as a consequence they do not feel as embattled as they take on the fight to restore the basics.
If they aren't watching Faux, they can hear talk-show radio hosts like Char-LIE Sykes and Mark Belling and Icki McKenna instead, and those guys are more than willing to play on those resentments and fears to misdirect angry white people from dealing with their own failures in life. \

AM radio misdirection also plays on the desires of Tea Partiers, who want badly to believe that somehow the system will work out for them, as they think it did in the "good old days", and it gives them an aspiration to shoot for, which beats having to admit that some people might actually have to be dependent because of misfortunes that befall them. Of course, the fiscal reality was much different in the good old days (high tax rates on the rich, higher minimum wage, higher unionization), but in the great words of W. Axl Rose- "I've worked too hard for my illusions/ Just to throw them all away." This can explain why lower and middle-class people in southern Wisconsin can still continue to vote for a Wall Street whore like Paul Ryan, because THEY WANT TO BELIEVE THAT WHAT THAT SUCCESSFUL YOUNG MAN SAYS IS TRUE. The fact that Ryan is a millionaire's son whose never held a corporate-sector job is irrelevant, because these guys want to believe they can get the same good life Purty Mouth Paulie has. It's understandable in a way- no one wants to be driving away at a job for 30 years to be told that you've been playing a losing game, and that you've wasted many a vote putting in people who couldn't give a crap about you.

And in Wisconsin, this means the often fact-free hate on AM620 and AM1130. On those stations, the Baggers and the Fundies don't have to deal with any questions about what they believe in, or be laughed at by us smarty-pantses in the outside world. It also allows them to have their crucifixion fetish satisfied, because right-wing radio hosts are all about telling the suckers in their audience how persecuted they are, and that ONLY THEY can be the ones that saves this country.

Now where's the hope with Wisconsin Republicans? It's with the Moderate Republicans, who know in their hearts that Walkerism and "divide and conquer" is a bad way to govern, and that hating immigrants and gays isn't the way to go in the 21st Century.
They believe the party is stuck, not forward-looking, and representative of old ideas. They worry about the Republican Party’s right turn on social and environmental issues—which makes it difficult, especially for young moderates—to view the Republican Party as a modern party.

While they continue to appreciate the GOP’s fiscal conservatism, these fractures make it difficult for educated young people to identify with Republicans. As one man in Colorado said, “I can’t sell my kids on this party.”
That same focus group reports some Moderate women being interested in voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, despite being fiscally conservative.

You can see these concerns in the consternation that long-time GOP legislators like Dale Schultz, Mike Ellis, and Luther Olsen have when it comes to certain bills, particularly on education, where they seem to have a different approach than the voucher supporters that define conservatism in the 262. But like most Moderate GOPs, they've mostly stayed loyal enough to the party, and have gone along with a lot of the Fitzwalkerstani crap in the process(yes, even Schultz is included, Dale voted for Walker's first budget, and has even voted for some of the goofy abortion bills). So because they and other Moderates have often chosen party over common good, the Walker Era has been allowed to continue in Wisconsin.

But if the Walker forces have one big setback, especially as the GOP's approval is at or near record low approval levels, I can see a scenario where a whole lot of Moderate voters bolt. Because unlike the put-upon confrontation-approving, Evangelicals and Tea Partiers, the Moderates aren't as cynical, and seem to care more about getting things done as opposed to making a symbolic point.
They've been holding every thing up in Congress lately. Like, the Democrats proposed this but Republicans just say no. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)

In stark contrast to the conversations among Evangelical and Tea Party adherents, these folks are desperate for “middle ground.”

It’s like you have to be on one side or the other about race. And you have to be on one side or the other about healthcare. And you, like all these other things and I mean it really, it seems like maybe there's some middle ground that it never seems to be that we get to that, as a country it doesn't ever seem like we really get to that kind of middle ground. (Moderate woman, Raleigh)
A positive Dem message emphasizing problem-solving and the common values most of us hold seems to be something that would resonate with this group, and a sizable shift in this vote could well lead to a major Dem wave. Here's where I differ with the DPW "wisdom" of having a milquetoast, moderate message, because I believe a positive, pro-education, progressive MESSAGE would be a welcome change from the power-grabbing, fearful types that dominate the other two main voting blocs of Republicans. That's a message that isn't an ideological one, but one that exemplifies a different APPROACH, and is BASED ON OUTCOMES, NOT POSES. See, in Wisconsin, there is nothing to be gained by dealing with a lot of the dopes that make up the elected officials of the GOP, because they were elected by the Evangelicals and Tea Partiers. These politicians and their constituents think they're fighting a battle to save their perverted view of civilization, and want to cripple and deform government is such a way that it becomes nearly impossible to change and adapt to reality. You can't compromise with that.

Instead, I'd play a little "divide and conquer" myself, and would ignore them entirely. I'd also work to damage the credibility of the talk-show hosts and other mouthpieces amplifying their garbage, and encourage Wisconsinites to kick Walkerism to the curb, which would get back to making this a state worth living in again. That would appeal to both Moderates, as well as the Dem base, and lead to a big win in 2014. And yes, this is a rough and somewhat bleak message at its core, but I also believe it would be the most successful one in terms of getting this state back on the right track.


  1. A very good read Jake. We're heading into a few rough years ahead.

  2. Couldn't agree with you more. Frankly, I would like to see adds during the upcoming campaign that specifically target the rantings of teapublicans.

  3. Agree middle-class guy. It was well-documented in the 2012 campaign that many voters simply didn't believe that the GOP was as radical as their platform really was. You could do a whole lot of "Scott Walker in 2010 and Scott Walker from 2011-2014" commercials showing the average moderate and bystander just how dishonest and out there Walker and WisGOP truly are.

    As mentioned in the article, fundies and Baggers are out in bubble-world, and not worth wasting time over. But moderates and bystanders are the people who know the other 2 are off the deep end, and showcasing the craziness and corruption sounds like a winner to me.