Local Spin: Party Time
GOP wants to know your thoughts, and tell you what to think.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
So the GOP’s National Senatorial Committee would like to know your thoughts. But first, the committee clearly wants to give you those thoughts. And after they’re done giving you your thoughts, you can then turn around and share them back, along with some cash to help those poor Republican Senate candidates running against the most vulnerable Senate Democrats nationwide.
It’s part of what the committee, led by South Dakota Sen. John Thune, is calling the Republican Area Party Assessment. The “special project” was purportedly sent to only a handful of voters in the 939-blank-blank zip code areas, although it’s also immediately available online to anyone with an Internet connection at www.nrscassessment.org. When you get to the part where they ask you to donate, you’ll notice there’s no option for saying no. Pay up, you become an NRSC member and you can continue the survey.
In other words, it’s a push poll, a survey generally regarded as a form of negative campaigning in which the questions are meant to incite rage, which will lead to the removal of credit card from wallet, which will lead to donations to the GOP. Strategists most famously created a push poll for George Bush in the 2000 race against John McCain; voters in South Carolina were asked if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain knowing he had fathered an illegitimate black child.
THE QUESTIONS ARE MEANT TO INCITE RAGE WHICH WILL LEAD TO THE REMOVAL OF CREDIT CARD FROM WALLET.
No such child existed, of course; McCain and his wife had adopted a little girl from a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Theresa in 1991. But McCain lost in South Carolina, and the rest is history. In the recent HBO film Game Change, which chronicles the McCain/Palin ticket and is based on the book of the same name, McCain’s handlers suggest he go negative against Obama. He asks them if they know what it’s like to have your child called a bastard in the course of a campaign. That brings the conversation to a halt.
The Thune assessment reflects an endemic pattern in the party right now: There’s seemingly no room for differing opinions. There’s no room for a Republican who thinks the bank bailouts (under Bush) were necessary. Or that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), also created under Bush in 2008, sort of, kind of helped save the global financial system (or so says Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com). Don’t even get Thune started on healthcare reform; Obamacare, he says, will ensure we’ll be stuck with a dozen new taxes, 2,000 pages of government controls and a trillion dollars worth of spending over the next 10 years for a program that will drive national debt higher and healthcare quality lower.
And there’s certainly no room for the idea of Republicans working with their Democrat colleagues. As Thune, who won his seat by beating Tom Daschle in 2004, puts it, “A new Republican Senate majority [is] the only way we can truly put a permanent end to President Obama’s budget-busting, job-destroying, big-government agenda.” It’s the job of every loyal Republican “to fight every day in Washington and roll back all the punishing taxes, the job-killing regulations, the bloated spending and the harmful social policies the Democrats imposed on us.”
Ah, there’s the real point. Harmful social policies. After the Thune survey collects the usual demographic data, i.e., age, gender, general voting history and party affiliation, it goes on to ask that series of rage-inducing questions.
“Do you support new protections for religious freedom so that religious employers are not forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, as the Obama administration is ordering them to do?”
“Should we pass a permanent ban on federal taxpayer funding of abortions?”
“Do you prefer judges who strictly interpret the law, as opposed to to using the courts to push their personal social agenda?”
“Do you believe in school choice measures as the best way to improve education?”
“Do you consider yourself a strong supporter of the 2nd-Amendment right to bear arms?”
And of course, no GOP push poll would be complete without the gay-marriage question: “Do you support federal protections for marriage as a union between one man and one woman?”
In the end, Thune and his committee don’t really give a damn what people think. They do care that those in the fringe, which in the GOP is fast becoming the mainstream, send the urgent gifts of $1,000, or $500 or, hell, even $25.
Make no mistake, Thune says: “We can elect a new Republican Senate majority this year.”
In a poll meant to incite fear, that might be the scariest statement of them all.
Mary Duan is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at email@example.com or twitter.com/maryrduan.