Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Republican Know-Nothings...

I think it is hilarious, the extent to the GOP employs the "fear and loathing" approach to political support. The idea is simple: talk about something the public is afraid of, feed their fear (reasonable or unreasonable), and the offer to fix it. No sincerity is required.

When Tim Kaine ran for Governor of Virginia I would hear radio ads for his opponent, Jerry Kilgore. In my neck of the woods, Kilgore seems to be playing a fiddle with just two strings. On the one string his ads would tell us that we shouldn't vote for Kaine because, why, Kaine was a Catholic and the Pope wouldn't let people be executed in Virginia while Kaine was governor. (Kilgore assumed I'd think this was bad.) The other string played a note about illegal immigrants and how the state could save thousands over dollars by identifying them and being sure they weren't paying in-state tuition at Virginia Tech. I thought, "They got in to Tech? Jezz, leave them alone!"

Kilgore lost, even though he started out as the frontrunner. I'd like to think his racist rhetoric and the manner in which he patronized voters had something to do with that...

Now we are getting the same thing from presidential candidates. Romney and Giuliani want to out do each other with who can be the most hard line on immigration. The irony is that neither of them were hard line on immigration until they began running for president. But they know that fear and loathing plays well with rednecks in rural Idaho and old white ladies in Florida. So they've all become a bunch of know nothings.

The Know Nothings were a political movement in the 1850's. They were scared of what the Irish might do to America. And they played the fear and loathing card to get elected.

There's a good piece in the Boston Globe about Romney and Giuliani and the Know Nothings.

Immigration is a much more complicated issue than the GOP wants you to believe. Don't let fear and loathing determine how you vote...

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