Were I a card-carrying Republican, I’d burn my card and pull the drapes. The current set of people who now call themselves Republicans appear to me to be the flotsam and jetsam of shipwrecks from bygone days- a collection of debris washed ashore- fairly useless stuff, cluttering and scarring the landscape. Recall that my parents were proud Republicans who would not recognize the riffraff now absorbed as swill into their party.
Dana Milbank, writer for the Washington Post, brought this set of chaff to my attention this AM in an article titled, Embracing misinformation on Obama. He referred to a recent poll of Louisiana Republicans about the destruction from Hurricane Katrina. The result of the poll is breathtaking and terribly frightening: Twenty-nine percent of them said that President Obama was responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.
This was slightly more than the 28 percent who said President George W. Bush was to blame. An additional 44 percent thought it over but just weren’t sure. Remember, these were Louisianians not North Dakotans.
So you must be wondering why people living in the state hit hardest by that hurricane would blame it on a man from Illinois who was in his first term in the Senate? Why? [ fill in your answer ]
Milbank agrees with the hypothesis I have penned often on this blog: ignorance and propaganda. He doesn’t mention racism, but I would. He says, “The Katrina question is consistent with the many surveys finding an appalling amount of misinformation embraced by the electorate.” He continues, “Seven in 10 Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. One in five thought that Obama was Muslim. In another famous poll, Americans were three times more likely to be able to name two of the seven dwarfs than two Supreme Court justices.” Milbank goes on, “A Pew poll last year found that 30 percent of Republicans and 34 percent of conservative Republicans thought Obama was Muslim and 43 percent of Republicans thought Obama was born in another country.”
Why would Republicans express such ignorance? Why? [ fill in your answer ]
Obama conspiracy theories have flourished in the Deep South, says Milbank, where wealth and educational levels are both low. This makes sense: Where voters are least informed, they are most susceptible to misinformation peddled by talk-radio hosts and the like. Propaganda. The Deep South. The Bible Belt. The ‘good’ Christians. Amen! The states with the lowest educational scores. The former Confederacy. The former Jim Crow Laws.
“Obama derangement syndrome is running pretty high right now among a certain segment of the Republican base,” Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. said. “There’s a certain segment of people who say, ‘If you’re going to give me the opportunity to stick it to Obama, I’m going to take it.’ ”
So what has gathered this pile of floating refuse into today’s Republican Party? Why did it accumulate there? Because that party has opened its floodgates to anyone who isn’t left-of-center. Any flotsam and jetsam. It’s all about numbers. Ideology and principles be damned. Just numbers. Anyone will do.