Do Not Ignore This Persistent Truth About Republicans

Do Not Ignore This Persistent Truth About Republicans

Republicans vote Republican, even when a fresh face like Jon Ossoff steals the headlines.

By Charles P. Pierce      June 21, 2017

OK, two things before we leave the leafy, tranquil suburbs of rank despair down there in Georgia and hurl ourselves into the heat and desolation of the Hot Take Caldera.

Point The First: Karen Handel, who won the congressional seat previously held by Tom (The Wolf of Wall Street) Price, was not a very strong candidate. She ran for statewide office three times and lost badly. She piled up a resounding 19 percent in the preliminary balloting. Her appeal to that mythical beast, The Independent Voter, was practically nil; on many issues judged to be critical to that critter, from good government to marriage equality, she is an extremist loon. She was nobody’s idea of an ideal Republican candidate for that seat, either.

But she won. Know why? Because there was an ‘R’ next to her name, that’s why, and because that’s all that matters to Republicans, who get out and vote for anyone with an ‘R’ next to their name, and who know how to keep their internecine knife fights largely on the down low and, in any case, even while those are going on, they know how to keep their eyes on the prize. They come out. They vote their party, even in what apparently were godawful weather conditions.

Conclusion: I would like the 2016 Democratic primary elections to be over now.

Point The Second: Now that it’s open season on Jon Ossoff, I’d like to point out that he came within a whisker of avoiding a runoff entirely in an election for a congressional seat that’s been solidly Republican since Jimmy Carter was president. That’s not a win, but it’s not nothing, either. He was a studied, cautious candidate. (His personal affect was thoughtful to the point of occasionally seeming a bit off-plumb, truth be told.) It’s very hard to make a case that a louder, more progressive candidate would have done much better than Ossoff did. (And that’s not even to mention that the Democrats ran a former Goldman Sachs executive in a deep red South Carolina district and came even closer to an upset than they did in Georgia. That would have scrambled some brains among the purity police.) It’s a fair point to say that, especially when all that Paul Ryan PAC money came flooding in at the last minute to link Ossoff to Nancy Pelosi and, most odiously, to the mass shooting in Alexandria.

(The Pelosi question is an interesting one. Already, there are cries to replace her as the minority leader in the House, almost all of which are based on election results outside the chamber. However, nobody has been better at herding the cats in the Democratic caucus than she’s been. And now that the Blue Dogs are apparently having delusions of grandeur again, I’m not sure it’s the right time to toss away that essential skill. But I do find compelling the argument that the hyper-nationalization of the Ossoff campaign did it no favors.)

Conclusion: I would like the 2016 Democratic primary elections to be over now.

Yes, it is hard for the Democrats to listen to the mad king cock-a-doodle-doo on the electric Twitter machine. And it probably is almost impossible for them to listen to the thousand voices who Know Better. Some of them will be completely a’skeered and declare themselves open for business with Camp Runamuck. Still others will insist that there is a huge reservoir out there in the boondocks for economic populism detached from the racism and xenophobia into which American economic populism almost always descends.

(Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, there is a thread dealing with a proposal from one of America’s most prominent Berniecrats that the key for Democratic candidates in the South is to follow the example of…Zell Miller.)

All of this will be utterly counterproductive and, worse, futile. The Republicans don’t care. They have their vicious primary battles and then, usually, everybody in the choir sings on key. Republicans are remarkably unembarrassed by jettisoning their previous deeply held beliefs for the purposes of winning elections. Ted Cruz’s fealty to the current president* is proof enough of that.

The biggest mistake the Ossoff campaign made was relying too heavily on the notion that there were Republican voters in that district that could be broken off from their party. This almost is never the case. Through decades of constant and unrelenting pressure, and through finagling with the franchise in a hundred ways in a thousand places, the Republicans have compressed the votes they need into an unmovable, diamond-hard core that will vote in robotic lockstep for whoever it is that wins a Republican primary. In American politics today, mindlessness is one of the strongest weapons you can have. Republicans vote for Republicans in Republican districts. Period.

Author: John Hanno

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Bogan High School. Worked in Alaska after the earthquake. Joined U.S. Army at 17. Sergeant, B Battery, 3rd Battalion, 84th Artillery, 7th Army. Member of 12 different unions, including 4 different locals of the I.B.E.W. Worked for fortune 50, 100 and 200 companies as an industrial electrician, electrical/electronic technician.

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