These days, Republicans have good reason to be worried: midterm elections are around the corner and a recent New York Times/CBS poll found that a meager 25 percent of the American public approves of this Republican-led Congress.
However, when it comes to winning elections, the GOP should not be underestimated. No matter the odds, Republicans seem to pull it off every time. How do they do it?
A breakdown of the GOP election strategy can be divided into Plan A, Plan B, and, my personal favorite, Plan Desperation – each progressively gaining in ruthlessness and sleaze.
Plan A consists of dumping as much money into an election as they can possibly get away with, a good portion of which comes from the tobacco and oil industry – not to mention lobbyists like Jack Abramoff who epitomize corruption .
When money is not doing the trick, the GOP shifts gear to Plan B – where they perfect the art of employing the ad hominem fallacy. Instead of attacking an idea, they go straight to an opposing candidate’s jugular – relentlessly inflicting personal attacks.
These attacks, it should be mentioned, are not only reserved for candidates of the opposing party, but also for fellow Republicans.
Such was the case in the 2000 Republican South Carolina primary between then Governor George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain. In order to curtail McCain’s momentum, the Bush camp circulated the following push poll using racist innuendo: “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”
Not surprisingly, McCain’s support plunged after this baseless assault.
When Plan B falls short, Republicans turn to Plan Desperation. In this instance, GOP strategists seek out a scapegoat – usually in the form of an underrepresented minority group. Then they unleash a vicious campaign against the ill-fated group in an effort to distract the general public from issues that are more salient.
In the last elections, with a lagging economy and increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, the GOP found this tactic to be especially helpful in wiggling out of their predicament. As one can recall, the marriage amendment proposal popped out of nowhere and became the basis of national discourse for months leading up to the elections.
For the upcoming elections in November, the GOP has another scapegoat up its sleeves: illegal Mexican immigrants.
In a new twist, GOP lawmakers have proposed obligating voters to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote.
Already, this has sparked considerable debate and is being challenged in courts. Democrats are especially opposed to such legislation, which they argue would likely disenfranchise minorities, the poor, and the elderly – groups traditionally loyal to the Democratic base.
Considering there are people in this country that barely have enough to get by on, it is preposterous to assume that they would spend money to purchase special government-issued picture IDs to vote.
Moreover, it should be noted that imposter voting is less than a rampant phenomenon. As the New York Times reports, “Of Arizona’s 2.7 million registered voters, 238 were believed to have been noncitizens in the last 10 years; only 4 were believed to have voted.”
Yet, Arizona is one of the leading states proposing this legislation.
For many residents of Arizona, like Eva Charlene Steele, who recently moved from Missouri and has no form of state identification, voting is not an option this November.
As Steele commented to the New York Times, “It makes me a little angry because my son is fighting now in Iraq for others to have the right to vote, and I can’t.”
So there you have it – winning elections GOP-style. It’s actually quite simple when you think of it. All you need to do is find rich donors – irrespective of their lucrative business dealings.
Then vilify and, if possible, insinuate that your opponent has fathered an illegitimate black child. Lastly, find a scapegoat to dump blame on and distract the public of your lawmaking inefficiencies.
If all else fails – rob minorities, the poor, the elderly, and mothers with sons in Iraq of a chance to vote.
Luci Storelli-Castro is a junior political science and philosophy major. Her column runs every Thursday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.