PBS NewsHour / YouTube WATCH McConnell says GOP will start 1578506561.jpg...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

The modern day Republican Party is an extreme and authoritarian party unlike any other conservative party in the 1st world democracies. The GOP is the only major conservative party in the world that rejects universal health coverage, the science behind climate change, marriage equality and gun safety reform.

As early as 2012, prominent political scientist Norm Ornstein made this prescient quote: “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science: and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

This authoritarianism has translated into sheer radicalism. The GOP no longer believes in the peaceful transfer of power and free elections. The GOP knows that it needs to rig the political system so it can never lose because its platform is so unpopular and toxic.

At the present time, the D.C. Republicans are bitterly resisting any tax increases on the corporations and the top 1% even though they are lightly taxed. Instead, the GOP wants to saddle the poor and the middle class with the costs of infrastructure improvements in the way of user fees and a higher gas tax. Apparently, the D.C. Republicans want to provide Amazon with free roads and bridges while the rest of us pay more.

The D.C. Republicans apparently believe that too many Americans are insured. The likes of Deb Fischer, Ben Sasse, Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith have all repeatedly voted to take away health insurance from 20 million Americans and end pre-existing condition protections.

At the same time, Fortenberry and Bacon recently signed off on a radical proposal that would increase the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare from 65 to 69. This same plan would also turn Medicare into a voucher program, which would significantly hike health care costs for seniors.

During campaign 2020, the GOP falsely accused Democratic candidates of supporting defunding the police and socialism. These phony allegations hurt the Democratic candidates who didn’t fight back and we lost seats in the U.S. House. The Democrats who fought back didn’t get hurt.

This raises a very important question. How does the GOP get away with it? Why do the Democrats get tagged with being extreme while the truly extreme party avoids it?

Excerpts from a very perceptive piece written on May 27 by Greg Sargent of the Washington Post provides some answers. Sargent reported on a revealing study by a progressive PAC:

“The analysis — which was done by the group Way to Win and was provided to me — suggests large TV-ad expenditures on emphasizing bipartisan outreach do not appear to have paid dividends for House Democrats in the 2020 elections.

The analysis also finds that Republicans spent a lot more money on casting Democrats as extremists than Democrats did in making the case against Republican extremism.

Democrats, of course, lost a net dozen House seats, underperforming victorious Joe Biden all over the place. The findings suggest Democrats need a rethink of their approach to those conundrums, the analysts conclude.

  • Democrats spent three times more than Republicans on ads that touted bipartisan outreach. Democrats spent $21.8 million on ads about “bipartisanship” or “working across the aisle,” while Republicans spent $6.2 million on them. 
  • Democrats spent six times as much on positive ads than Republicans did. Democrats spent $18.6 million on positive ads that also happened to mention Republicans (say, by touting the ability to work with them), while Republicans spent $2.9 million on positive ads mentioning Democrats.
  • Republicans spent more than 10 times more on ads with the words “extremist” and “radical” than Democrats did. Republicans spent $51 million on such ads, while Democrats spent $3.4 million.

Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, the vice president of Way to Win, said that, in sum, Democrats in 2020 sent mixed messages: They touted their willingness to work with Republicans, even as Republicans called them socialists and extremists….Meanwhile, Ancona said, by constantly touting bipartisanship, Democrats were “effectively normalizing their attacks,” because Democratic messaging essentially said: “We want to work across the aisle with people who are painting us as extreme villains…“We should be painting them as the extreme outlier that they are,” Ancona told me.”

Way to Win’s recommendations are supported by historical experience. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman routinely pointed out GOP extremism during their successful presidential campaigns. They would emphasize that the GOP and their corporate donor class bitterly resisted popular reforms like Social Security and the minimum wage.

Similarly, Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign spent huge sums in 1995–96 attacking Newt Gingrich’s radical platform and tied him directly to GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole. Clinton turned his entire political fortunes around by standing up to Gingrich’s government shutdowns that were aimed at funding a tax cut for the rich by cutting Medicare.

Apparently, the D.C. Republicans learned nothing from their landslide loss to Clinton in 1996. Already, the D.C. Republicans are scheming to shutdown the government again and default on the national debt in an attempt to bully President Biden into cutting Social Security and Medicare. We need to make that kind of GOP extremism the centerpiece of the 2022 campaign.

The Democrats are the party of the people, prosperity, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA. We must never let the voters forget that.

The Republicans are the party of the rich, sabotage, mass unemployment, mass illness, mass death and violence.

The Republicans will always be the party of Donald Trump. We must never let the voters forget that. History matters. Now let’s get it done!

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