Are the Republicans as crooked as we think they are? Part I - Framing the Question
This Series was originally posted January 26, 2005 after the inauguration of George W. Bush. It seems as applicable now, so I am reposting here and republishing it in my DC Catholic Progressive Examiner column, as well as on Facebook, DailyKos and in Open Salon.
As time marches on and the inauguration of George W. Bush becomes but a memory, it is important to delve into the question: Are the Republicans really corrupt, in thrall to the major corporations who are themselves consummate evil doers, or is there perhaps another explanation? Another way to ask this is, do the Republicans believe their own propaganda, or do they know that they are lying for the benefit of profit?
These questions are important for both parties. They are important for Democrats and Greens because they affect their messages and actions. For instance, if the Republicans truly are crooked than persuasion will have no effect. Rather, investigation is the best tactic. Winning than becomes all-important, because if you are out of power your investigative power is limited. If the top ranks of the party are truly evil than the strategy is to expose this evil to the rank and file Republican so that they will cast off their leadership or flee to the righteous side. This is essentially a neo-populist position. If the Republicans aren’t crooked, then rational argument is possible, as is compromise. It also becomes easier to attract voters from the other side, as then you only need convince them that their leaders are wrong, rather than that they have been duped in a conspiracy. This issue is also important for Democrats because of the adoption of the Democratic Leadership Council types of much of the free trade rhetoric from the other side. Most importantly, a conclusion that the Republicans aren’t crooked can lead to a more genteel polity, as the current tone of debate is frankly caustic.
This question is very important for Republicans. If the higher ups in the party are crooks than to be a Republican voter is to be the hoodwinked member of a criminal conspiracy. Most importantly, this discussion holds up a mirror for the Republicans to see. Whether the question is true or not, it provides a valuable view on how the party and its leadership are perceived by the other side.