The New York Times just published an excellent article (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/us/politics/04campaign.html?_r=1&hp) detailing the tactics Republicans used to take over the House of Representatives and win some Senate seats. The piece is striking for how plainly it shows the techniques by which the Republican leadership over two years carefully manipulated and deceived Americans into voting them into power. Of course, Democrats have also been known to use heavy-handed election tactics, but perhaps not since Watergate (or at least the 2000 Republican primary) has a party’s strategy been openly shown to operate on this level of cynicism and questionable behavior.
Take, for example, the Republicans’ back-room-crafted strategy of intimidating Democratic politicians into retirement using, “ ‘Guerilla tactics’ like chasing Democratic members down with video cameras and pressing them to explain votes or positions. (One target, Representative Bob Etheridge of North Carolina, had to apologize for manhandling one of his inquisitors in a clip memorialized on YouTube. Only this week did Republican strategists acknowledge they were behind the episode.)”
The piece also exposes a strategy, designed at the top, to use Tea Party energy when it could benefit Republican races, and at other times to undermine the movement when the energy and frustration was seen as a threat to the Republican establishment. In other words, the article gave still more details to confirm the Republican Party’s deliberate manipulation of the often sincere and genuinely upset members of the Tea Party movement.
As a strong believer in the need for a common sense movement, the results and tactics of the Republican leadership in this election are a depressing reminder of how how nasty, power-hungry, and out of touch many modern politicians have become. Just after the 2008 election, future House Speaker Boehner and other elite Republican leaders decided to use hyper-partisanship as an attempt to take control of Congress and weaken the president. “Improbably, Mr. Boehner’s team turned the notion that Republicans could not afford to be the ‘Party of No’ — or, in his words, the party of ‘Hell no’ — on its ear, successfully portraying it as a virtue in the face of Mr. Obama’s legislative priorities. But even that team never predicted the sort of victory they experienced Tuesday night.”
Rather than work with the Obama Administration to find some bipartisan policies that could help lower our awful national unemployment numbers and improve the economy, top Republicans decided to punish the American people for rewarding Democrats with big 2008 election victories. According to Representative Pete Sessions, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, “Our mission statement was to retire Nancy Pelosi. That was the whole mission statement.” The American people are noticeably absent from the Republicans’ mission statement.
The national Republican Party leaders have bamboozled Americans who are frustrated that progress isn’t being made fast enough. They appear to have tricked millions of people eager for change into voting for the very politicians who have stated repeatedly, and in many different ways, their intention that nothing get done at all.