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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The GOP’s New “Evil Empire”

This item by Ed Kilgore was originally published on May 13, 2009
Like a lot of non-Rush-Limbaugh listeners, when I first heard that a large faction of Republican National Committee members was pushing for a formal resolution calling on GOPers to start referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Socialist Party,” I thought it was a puerile joke that the adults in the Republican Party would quash.
Apparently not. According to sources speaking to Politico‘s Roger Simon, the Republican National Committee will approve the resolution at a special meeting of the RNC called for that very purpose.
Here’s how the sponsor of the resolution, Jeff Kent from Washington State, explained its rationale a few weeks ago:

There is nothing more important for our party than bringing the truth to bear on the Democrats’ march to socialism. Just like Ronald Reagan identifying the U.S.S.R. as the evil empire was the beginning of the end to Soviet domination, we believe the American people will reject socialism when they hear the truth about how the Democrats are bankrupting our country and destroying our freedom and liberties.

I don’t know what’s more offensive: the idea of identifying the Democratic Party, which the American people elected to run Congress and the executive branch just six months ago, with the Soviet Union, or the idea that Ronald Reagan brought about the collapse of the Soviet bloc through a magic spell. All in all, the highly adolescent nature of Kent’s thinking is illustrated not only by this comic-book historical revisionism, but by his insistence on retaining in his version of the “Evil Empire” the little-boy-taunt of dropping the last syllable from the adjective “Democratic.”
The St. Paul of the “Democrat Socialist” rebranding, Indiana RNC member James Bopp, Jr., sent an encyclical around further explaining its purpose. Here’s a pertinent passage:

The threat to our country from the Obama administration cannot be underestimated. They are proceeding pell mell to nationalize major industries, to exponentially increase the size, power and intrusiveness of the federal government, to undermine free enterprise and free markets, to raise taxes to a confiscatory level, to strap future generations with enormous unsustainable debt, to debase our currency, to destroy traditional values and embrace a culture of death, and to weaken our national defense and retreat from the war on terror. Unless stopped, we will not recognize our country in a few short years.

Yeah, I think the 60-plus-percent of Americans who approve of the job President Obama is doing are pretty happy with the plan to “destroy traditional values and embrace a culture of death.” Or perhaps they don’t understand that returning the top marginal tax rate to where it was ten years ago, and at a far lower level than in those fine days when Ronald Reagan abolished the Soviet Union, represents “confiscatory” taxes. Who knows, maybe they even think that we don’t need to deploy barbaric torture methods to fight terrorists.
It’s easy to mock this stuff, but it’s actually pretty significant: we are not talking about some radio blowhard or self-promoting Fox “personality” in this case, but the Republican National Committee. If, as Simon predicts, it approves this resolution, Republicans who like to think of themselves as serious people need to feel some real shame. Comparing the Democratic Party to the leadership of a totalitarian society, and treating it as an enemy of the country, isn’t just ridiculous: it’s an incitement to crazy people to act crazy or worse.

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