The Black Commentator: An independent weekly internet magazine dedicated to the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace - Providing commentary, analysis and investigations on issues affecting African Americans and the African world.
Mar 15, 2012 - Issue 463

What is happening with the Republicans?
The African World
By Bill Fletcher, Jr. Editorial Board



Look, I have no idea who will win in November but I have to say that what I am seeing among the Republicans is more bizarre than anything I have ever witnessed. The “circle of clowns” of Republican candidates seems increasingly intent on proving that they are the voices of ignorance, fear and irrationalism.  I cannot get over it.

The attacks on contraception, for instance, are just the latest in a long line of steps that seem to be intent on shooting themselves in the foot.  It is not only a matter of whether the Catholic Church has a right to withhold contraception assistance from its employees.  No, the circle of clowns is going further and attacking even the right to contraception itself.

Of course, added to this, has been the question of Iran.  The Republican candidates are more intent than even the most right-wing Israeli in waving the swords of war against Iran, even though the candidates seem to be utterly oblivious to the potential impact of such a disastrous turn of events.

So, I guess the obvious question is whether these Republican candidates and their acolytes are just plain stupid? The answer is a resounding “no”, irrespective of whether you happen to agree or disagree with them.  There are two things that they are counting upon.  First, they are focusing on the party base with the hope that once they secure the nomination that they can then go after disenchanted so-called independent voters and convince them - after winking at their base - that they really are not as irrational as they appeared during the primary season.

Second, they are counting on the results of the Citizens United case.  Specifically, they are making the calculated assumption that irrespective of how foolish they appear in the primaries, that they will garner sufficient funds (through mechanisms such as the SuperPACs) in order to buy the election in combination with suppressing the Democratic electorate’s vote.

For these reasons we should not be sitting back laughing and assuming that these idiots will implode. They will not.  There are sections of the business world which have a vested interest in the success of these Republican candidates, whether they take their social commentaries seriously or not.  It is also not a time to engage in any level of compromise with these reactionaries.  This latter point is particularly directed at those Obama supporters who, along with the President, tend to believe that they need to prove their maturity by engaging in compromise with forces that seek their annihilation. 

At the moment it is critical for progressive forces to both increase pressure on the Obama administration around matters like no war with Iran; green jobs; aid to the unemployed; supporting the rights of women; and, at the same time actively exposing and opposing the Republicans for what they are. 

2012 is shaping up to be something that many of us did not expect:  a choice between a corporate liberal, on the one hand, and forces that are intent on dividing society between the “deserving” and the “undeserving.”  The circle of clowns (as self-appointed representatives of the “deserving” population), see themselves as advancing political and economic policies that reinforce an apartheid-like system that has appeared on the global and domestic scenes between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, with race being only one of the factors in terms of who is in which group.  While this system has been constructed in a bi-partisan fashion, so to speak, the Republicans have fully consolidated as the party of Caligula, with all that that entails.

Perhaps this is among the strongest arguments for the need for a comprehensive progressive electoral project that is not limited to this or the next electoral cycle but is truly interested in a political realignment and building a powerbase among the dispossessed. Editorial Board member, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfricaForum and co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.