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Why the Republican Party Demonized President Obama

by: AndySchmooklerforCongress

Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:53:28 AM EST


( - promoted by lowkell)

Every political party wants its followers to stick with them and not their opponents. So it's natural that a party will seek to discredit a leader from its opposition.  But today's Republican Party went beyond the usual discrediting, and has sought to outright demonize Barack Obama.

Here's my interpretation of why that is. It has three steps.

First, the Republican world constitutes a hierarchical society.

There are a number of ways of seeing this.  We can see it in the tremendous party discipline they have, compared to the Democrats.  Herding Republicans is not like herding cats.  The Republican Party is increasingly a party of the South, and for generations interpreters of American culture have been discussing the hierarchical nature of the culture of the American South.  Also, the hierarchical orientation of the Republican Party is shown also in many of the basic ideas -- even of usual conservatism -- about good order (top-down, rather than bottom-up).  

Second, in a hierarchical society, people are trained in the ethic that those lower in the hierarchy should obey those above, not question or challenge them.  

AndySchmooklerforCongress :: Why the Republican Party Demonized President Obama
Of course, any American political party, as well as any American region, is not going to be 100% hierarchical.  That's not the nature of a democracy, and not consistent with the national creed that enshrines liberty as one of the rights with which we've been endowed by our Creator.  But America contains other non-democratic, non-liberal components within in its culture, including older hierarchical values characteristic of the warrior code and of military organization.  Over the generations, especially in some parts of America, these components have instilled in a great many Americans the ethic of deference to those above.  So, to oversimplify some, for the member of a hierarchical society:  Who is above me in the hierarchy to whom I'm obliged to give some measure of credence, deference, and obedience?

Third, today's Republican Party, having no interest in cooperation or compromise, but only in fighting for power, needs for its supporters to give President Obama zero standing and credibility.

The Republicans, as I've been saying throughout Obama's presidency, have made a fight over everything.  They take absolutist positions on almost every issue, like guns and taxes --they even fight against ideas that used to be their own-- because compromise is contrary to their whole political approach. If one's way of doing politics is to wage a fight to the death, there can be no question of seeking the right balance between competing values and the contending positions of the different parties.  Compromise becomes a dirty word.  The result is that the Republicans don't want their supporters to perceive the president as someone whose words they obliged to respect, lest they start weighing how much credence to give to his side of the argument.  That requires that the Republican base not see the president as legitimately above them in any hierarchy of which they are part.

As a result, the Republicans went to work immediately not just to discredit President Obama, but to demonize and delegitimate him.  From the beginning, they told tell their base, that he was not really their president, that he couldn't be because he was born in Kenya.  Not only was he not a legitimate president, and therefore not truly one who outranks a loyal American citizen in the hierarchy, but he hates America and -- Muslim terrorist with Nazi and Communistic purposes that they insinuated that he was -- is out to destroy it.  Of course, Obama's race made it that much easier to cast this president as a dangerous "other" who could not be one's legitimate superior in the hierarchy.  

So, given the Republicans strategy not to help govern but to engage in an all-out struggle for political power, and given their supporters tendency to believe themselves obligated to give some loyalty and respect and obedience to their commander in chief, the Republicans had to make Obama out to be not just wrong on the issues, but wholly outside the boundaries of any "Us" that included their people.

Hence, the demonization of the president.

Afterword:  One of the major errors made by President Obama in his first years in office was his forfeiting completely what should have been a battle over this demonization.  By the time we got half way through Obama's first term, an alarmingly large proportion of Republicans believed the demonizing lies the Republicans and their media allies had been promulgating.  It is unlikely there is any chance at this point that the roughly one-third of Americans that constitute the Republican base could be persuaded to reconsider the demonized portrait they were given then.

Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District.  He is the author of various books including Out of Weakness: Healing the Wounds that Drive Us to War.

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I honestly can't tell (1.00 / 1)
Is this satire?

I appreciate your honesty (0.00 / 0)
No. By what reading could it be so construed?

[ Parent ]
still waiting (4.00 / 1)
Well, Loudoun Independent, I'm starting to think that you did not really have anything serious to say. I've invited you to say what it is you've got to say, and if your silence continues much longer, even though I don't know you, I'll start guessing this way: that you're just practicing that right-wing kind of discourse that is long on posturing --especially the postures of contempt (my piece as satire!)-- but really is incapable of genuine argument, having not thought through anything, having adopted dogmas that have no basis in evidence or logic, and being fixated on the expression of destructive feelings that grow out of deep injury.

I've thought a whole lot about that kind of person, because I've been in the arena full time, one way or another, for more than eight years, and I've had a chance to get to know that kind of dark, mindless, angry politics and the people who go for it.

So, tell me, Loudon Independent, are you one of those people?

If not, I apologize for jumping to conclusions.  If so, well, you're part of the problem in America today.


[ Parent ]
Loudoun Independent needs to meet some real republicans (0.00 / 0)
I don't know if I agree with everything in the diary but loudon independent needs to meet some of today's republicans.  Being an old man, I have no choice. In the past we have seen studies of today's republicans as having an Authoritarian mindset compared to rest of us.  I think of the republican party as being more of a cult than an hierarchical society.  The leaders of the republican party know that folks who are afraid or angry have a much greater chance of sending money, working in campaigns, and showing up to vote.  I know plenty.  The far right republicans believe anyone that differs from fox news is either lying or having a libral (not liberal) bias.  They can quote talking points from fox or limbaugh on command.  They believe that they are the real Americans and real patriots, the rest of us are just some combination of librals, communists, socialists, immigrants, entitled free loaders, etc.  

[ Parent ]
Loudoun "Independent" needs to start by changing his name (0.00 / 0)
to something more accurate, like...uh...Loudoun REPUBLICAN perhaps?

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[ Parent ]
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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