Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
I’d like to commend David Holtzman for pointing out in last week’s edition of the Central Virginian how Republican Delegate John McGuire connects with his supporters on social media. And for quoting Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington — “By focusing on the issues [guns and abortion] that generate a strong emotional response, it maximizes the chances they’re re-elected,” laying out the psychological underpinnings behind those messages.
Still both observations fall short of capturing the magnitude of what McGuire, and indeed the entire Republican Party is doing and will continue to do right up to election day.
Deliberately attempting to short circuit peoples ability to think clearly, using messages designed to cause them to become captives of their own emotions. Too angry to even think, let alone ask questions everyone should be asking of their elected officials regardless of their own tribal affiliations.
Questions like; How have your actions this past session benefited the people of the 56th district and can you cite some specific examples?
McGuire’s strategy is simple; distract from relevant issues by saying one thing while communicating an entirely different message. In the not too distant past these messages were coded racist “dog whistles,” today they barely attempt to conceal their contempt.
Paul Krugman of the New York Times says these inherently racist messages have been the Republican’s bread and butter, since the 1970’s when the Party was taken over by economic radicals, “determined to slash taxes for the wealthy while undermining the social safety net.” And that this agenda has been unpopular for decades, since “most voters believe the rich should pay more, not less, in taxes, and want spending on social programs to rise, not fall.”
With such a negative agenda, the only way Republicans could win elections was to campaign with coded appeals to racial hostility, with phases like; “welfare queens,” and “invading hordes,” knowing that after they won the election they could safely return to implementing privatization and tax cuts.
And with ®esident45’s increasingly “audible” racism — rising well beyond the “dog whistles” of the past — any “plausible deniability” which Republican's previously used to deny that their own racist feelings were driving their political allegiances have been eliminated.
Unfortunately, it won't change the fact that racism has become such an integral part of Republican politics that only the willfully blind can't see it.
The leaders of the Republican Party will never admit that racism, right-wing extremism, and the rise in stochastic terrorism [aka mass shootings] we’ve all seen over the past decade are a threat to American society, because doing so would threaten their ability to exploit racial hostility, and more importantly their ability to implement their economic goals.
Nor should anyone be shocked to discover that many of John McGuire’s [and Bryce Reeves] supporters have long been “radicalized” – willfully ignorant — irrationally angry — and increasingly willing to sanction racial mayhem.
Just take a look at his Facebook page where he displays images like the one below, proudly flying his coded freak at every opportunity, while hypocritically calling the El Paso shooting an “evil and cowardly attack” and calling for “thoughts and prayers’ for the victims.
Distractions away from the real issue, that the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton were in no small measure “enabled” by a decade’s long NRA campaign to block any legislation that might have prevented tragedies like these. One that Republicans at every level of government willingly embraced.
And why wouldn’t they; by claiming to support second amendment “rights,” Republican’s have the perfect issue for every situation, one which enthralls the rubes, gets them elected, gives them cover for their economic agenda of privatization and tax cuts, and as an added incentive, they get to line up like hogs at the trough.
While media coverage of mass shootings long ago went down the “if it bleed, it leads” rabbit hole, the simple fact is that for decades, the leading cause of gun death has been suicide, not homicide, or the “acts of deranged individuals.
According to the National Center for Health Research, “Gun violence is a public health issue, but politics has interfered with research to determine how to reduce suicides or homicides caused by guns. Research is necessary for legislators to create effective gun control policy.”
The absence of statistically reliable information about gun violence is no accident, since the Clinton era, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been prevented from collecting any data on gun violence, because Congressional Republicans have refused to approve any funding for research.
Yet another indictment of how completely our legislators, particularly those on the Republican side of the aisle have failed to address the reality that anyone, anywhere in the country has unfettered access to guns, particularly weapons of mass mayhem, and we’re the only developed nation in the world where this is happening.
In response to McGuire’s hypocritical flag waving, and sanctimonious attitude, one person called him out out on his Facebook page, saying, “Oh no Johnny boy you do not get to comment on the murders of innocent Americans to score political points. You and the rest of the Republicans slunk away from Richmond without discussing even ONE bill to help save Virginians.”
Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are taking refuge behind the usual talking points; “it’s too soon to talk about it,” blaming "violent video games," or “we need to deal with mental illness,” and in Orange Julius’s case doing everything he can to undermine public safety.
And it’s the same playbook of watered down misdirection that the people of Louisa are seeing from local candidates running under Party banners, Facebook pages that have if any meaningful content that might assist voters in evaluating what they bring to the table, or even where they stand on relevant issues.
Although in Tony Williams case, it should be noted that he’s following Duane Adams 2017 playbook, using like minded proxies to flood the CV with letters of support. And while these are activities that any elected official or candidate worth their salt should be engaging in.
What few of the CV readers will notice is that they follow a similar pattern of pattern of distraction as the higher level Replican’ts [McGuire and Reeves] or that their claims are little more than an assortment of what-about-isms, and inflated accomplishments.
Some local officials currently in office and surprisingly some new candidates for office are content to run their campaign on the down low; depending almost entirely on word of mouth, keeping their “expenses” at such low levels that they won’t have to file any financial reports.
While other have taken to littering the roadways with signs, convinced that volume is a substitute for substance, and others are content to reach out to voters by using their personal Facebook pages as campaign pages.
Nor is it any coincidence that you’re not seeing this kind of pabulum on local independent candidates Facebook and web pages, not just because they want to be elected, but because they’re not afraid to talk about the issues.
Make no mistake, whichever lever you choose to pull on November 5th this year, and the following year, those decisions will likely be the most critical votes of your lifetime, and will play a major part in which direction this country takes for decades to come.
Whether you like it or not, there no longer is any comfortable middle ground, or room for indecisiveness, your choices are simple; either you’re for social progress, justice and a working government, or your not. And by your silence in the face of non stop racism are supporting a Party which has become a "systematic enabler" of white supremacist terrorism.
And as Paul Krugman, pointed out, if you want to know why, just “follow the money."
Editor’s Note: this is an expanded version of a letter published in the August 8th edition of the Central Virginian.
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