Republicans' deadly political strategy: Ruining our country hurts the Democratic Party

The GOP knows that if it can damage the economy, the average voter might blame it on the president

Published May 15, 2014 11:00AM (EDT)

Mitch McConnell                                        (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Mitch McConnell (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet The Republicans have their strategy, and they're sticking to it, even though it involves destroying lives and even killing people.

It's working so well based on a simple statistical reality.

The majority of Americans – depending on which survey you look at, between 60 and 75 percent – cannot name which political party controls the House of Representatives, which party controls the Senate, or either.

Because most Americans don't know who controls Congress, when Congress misbehaves, as they have been doing for six years, most Americans aren't sure who to blame.

Enter the Republican Chaos Strategy, based entirely on this statistical and political reality.

And common sense suggests that well over 90 percent of Americans know that Barack Obama is the president and that he is a Democrat.

The Republicans know this, too, and it's the other half of their strategy.

Therefore, what the Republicans know, is that if they can cause damage to the American economy and to American working people, the average voter, not realizing it was exclusively the Republicans who did it, are going to assume that the president – and the Democratic Party he is a member of – must bear some or maybe even all of the responsibility.

It's a brilliant strategy: Damage the country and you damage the Democratic Party.

And just in time for the midterm elections.

For six years now, Republicans have been hard at work damaging America and the American people. When the Democrats briefly controlled Congress, Nancy Pelosi got passed legislation that removed tax incentives for big companies to move jobs overseas and reversed those incentives to encourage companies to move factories back to the United States. This would seem to be a no-brainer, but Republicans filibustered it in the Senate and it died.

Why? Because it would've helped the economy, it would've lowered unemployment, it would've brought back good paying jobs, and it would've helped the American people.

The Republican Chaos Strategy dictates that you cannot allow these things to happen when there is a Democrat in the White House. Under their theory, if anything positive is done for the American people by Congress, the American people – who don't know which party controls Congress – will assume that the president and his Democrats must've had something to do with it. And therefore, the Democrats will get the credit.

Similarly, since three days after last Christmas, Republicans have denied millions of Americans an extension of long-term unemployment benefits. This has torn apart families, increased child and spousal abuse, increased divorces, and even increased suicides. It has exacerbated homelessness, despair, and depression.

Why would the Republicans do this, and even do so publicly and gleefully?

Because they know, consistent with the Republican Chaos Strategy, that most Americans, when they go to the polls, won't realize that it was exclusively the Republicans who were responsible for this.

They only know there's a Democrat in the White House, and so they think that the Democrats must have something to do with it.

The Republican Chaos Strategy is brilliant, and will continue to work as long as they can keep the American people ignorant of who controls which branches of Congress and how Republicans manipulate the filibuster in the Senate.

The mainstream media plays along with it perfectly, like useful idiots. They never point out, when a bill gets more than 50 votes in the Senate yet still fails, that under the Constitution it legally passed, but it failed to become a law because of a Republican filibuster.

They never point out, when discussing things like long-term unemployment benefits, that if Republican House Speaker John Boehner simply allowed a vote in the House of Representatives to extend the unemployment benefits they cut off last Christmas it would instantly pass. Probably over 80 percent of Americans do not realize that this one single Republican, playing out the Republican Chaos Strategy, has screwed millions of Americans.

They never point out that when Republicans go on television or radio and talk about how bad the economy is, and how many people are hurting, they are not complaining – they're bragging.

The media never points out, even though it is well documented in Robert Draper's book "Do Not Ask What Good We Do," that this was an intentional strategy to destroy the Obama presidency, hatched by a group of Republicans at the Caucus Room restaurant on the evening of January 20, 2009, while the new president and his wife were dancing at the inaugural balls.

The Republicans frankly make no secret of it: Newt Gingrich, who was there, bragged about it on my radio program. Texas Republican Pete Sessions, who was there, told the National Journal that their strategy was one they learned from the Taliban. He said they were going to become like the "Taliban insurgency."

The American mainstream media, since Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman act and the media went into massive consolidation mode, has shifted from providing news and information to providing entertainment and infotainment.

Infotainment only needs surface discussion, rather than requiring in-depth discussion. Infotainment can be very successful and very profitable even when people are essentially stupid - or at least misinformed or uninformed.

In fact it is more profitable this way, because less work is involved in terms of research and providing context. All you have to do is throw dueling political pundits or politicians armed with talking points on TV, and never bother to challenge them – even when they present outright lies. Cheaper production values, and bigger media profits.

So it works well for the media, as well as for the Republican Party.

The only way to stop the Republican Chaos Strategy is to educate the American people as to how the Republicans, for the majority of the Obama presidency, have been able to systematically and intentionally damage our economy and our nation for purely political purposes.

This should be the single-minded focus of the Democratic Party between now and November.

At every opportunity, every Democrat in the media, and every activist who has an opportunity to speak in any venue, should point out the Republican Chaos Strategy. And they should inform listeners and viewers and readers that the Republicans control the House of Representatives by a majority and control the Senate with a filibuster.

And let’s be honest: A huge responsibility for the success of the Republican Chaos Strategy falls to the president himself, who has failed to point it out over, and over, and over again. He must begin to call them out like Harry Truman did the last time the Republican Party tried this trick, and he must be relentless about it.

Over and over and over again, this message needs to be repeated, until enough people have figured it out so completely and clearly that the Republicans will no longer be able to do this kind of damage to us all.

So, get out there and wake somebody up.

By Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of "The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America" and more than 25 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

MORE FROM Thom Hartmann

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2014 Elections Alternet Barack Obama Democrats Republicans U.s. Senate