WHO ARE THE REPUBLICANS?
They’re People Who Don’t Share Our Values.
"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
John Kenneth Galbraith
“Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations. Over the last three decades they have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country’s return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution. Thus, the primary contradiction of the backlash: it is a working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working class people.”
Thomas Frank, Author
“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”
They’re People Who Don’t Think Like Us.
George Lakoff, a linguist, tries to explain the difference between Democratic and Republican thought patterns this way:
“Well, the progressive worldview is modeled on a nurturant parent family. Briefly, it assumes that the world is basically good and can be made better and that one must work toward that. Children are born good; parents can make them better. Nurturing involves empathy, and the responsibility to take care of oneself and others for whom we are responsible. On a larger scale, specific policies follow, such as governmental protection in the form of a social safety net and government regulation, universal education (to ensure competence, fairness), civil liberties and equal treatment (fairness and freedom), accountability (derived from trust), public service (from responsibility), open government (from open communication), and the promotion of an economy that benefits all and functions to promote these values, which are traditional progressive values in American politics.
The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline — physical punishment that, by adulthood, will become internal discipline. The good people are the disciplined people. Once grown, the self-reliant, disciplined children are then on their own. Those children who remain dependent (who were spoiled, overly willful, or recalcitrant) should be forced to undergo further discipline or be cut free with no support to face the discipline of the outside world.”
Lakoff contends in his book, “Moral Politics” that these competing worldviews extend into politics and accounts for the philosophical differences between Democrats (Liberals and Progressives) and Republicans (Conservatives and Libertarians).
Here’s how I see the Republicans:
The wealthy constitute a controlling part of the Republican Party.
According to CNN, in exit polling done in connection with the 2004 Presidential Election the wealthy voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush. Those with incomes of $200,000 or more (3% of the total number of voters polled) went for Bush 63% to 35% for Kerry. Those with incomes between $150,00 and $200,000 (4% of the total polled) also broke for Bush over Kerry by 58% to 42%. Less affluent voters, by contrast, voted overwhelmingly for Kerry. Those reporting incomes under $15,000 (8% of the total polled) went for Kerry over Bush 63% to 33%. It was only at the middle-income levels that there was parity in the voting. For example, at the $30,000 to $50,000 income level, Kerry edged Bush by 50% to 49%. The conclusion? The more money a voter has, the more likely he is to vote Republican.
Here is a complete breakdown of 2004 voting by income according to CNN’s exit polling:
Bush Kerry Nader
Under $15,000 (8%) 36% 63% 0%
$15-$30,000 (15%) 42% 57% 0%
$30-$50,000 (22%) 49% 50% 0%
$50,000-$75,000(23%) 56% 43% 0%
$75,000-$100,000(14%) 55% 45% 0%
$100,000-$150,000(11%) 57% 42% 0%
$150,000-$200,000(4%) 58% 42% 0%
$200,000 or More (3%) 63% 35% 1%
Another interesting statistic from the same CNN exit polling:
Votes by Income Bush Kerry Nader
Less than $100,000(82%) 49% 50% 0%
$100,000 or More (18%) 58% 41% 1%
All figures used in this piece can be found at:
Why do the Rich vote Republican?
They like having money and they want to get more if possible.
Money is a key to power in the U.S. and the Rich are powerful because they have it.
Edward Wolff is a professor of economics at New York University. He is the author of “Top Heavy: The Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America and What Can Be Done About It.” I got the following information from some comments Wolff makes at this website:
Or, if you like graphics, it’s all here:
The Rich basically own this country. In the United States, in the last survey year, 1998, the richest 1% of households owned 38% of all wealth. The top 5% owned more than half of all wealth. In 1998, they owned 59% of all wealth.
Or to put it another way, the top 5% had more wealth than the remaining 95% of the population, collectively. The top 20% owns over 80% of all wealth. In 1998, it owned 83% of all wealth. This is a very concentrated distribution.
The bottom 20% of the U.S. population basically has zero wealth. They either have no assets, or their debt equals or exceeds their assets. The bottom 20% has typically accumulated no savings. A household in the middle — the median household — has wealth of about $62,000. $62,000 is not insignificant, but if you consider that the top 1% of households’ average wealth is $12.5 million, you can see what a difference there is in the distribution.
The richest 10% of U.S. families own about 85% of all outstanding stocks. They own about 85% of all financial securities, 90% of all business assets. These financial assets and business equity are even more concentrated than total wealth.
If you break things down by race, you also find something very striking. Most people are aware that African-American families don’t earn as much as white families. The average African-American family only has about 60% of the income as the average white family. But the disparity of wealth is actually lot greater. The average African-American family has only 18% of the wealth of the average white family
We are much more unequal than any other advanced industrialized country. Perhaps our closest rival in terms of inequality is Great Britain. But where the top percent in this country owns 38% of all wealth, in Great Britain it is more like 22% or 23%.
What is remarkable is that this was not always the case. Up until the early 1970s, the U.S. actually had lower wealth inequality than Great Britain, and lower even than a country like Sweden. But things have really turned around over the last 25 or 30 years. In fact, a lot of countries have experienced lessening wealth inequality over time. The U.S. is atypical in that inequality has risen so sharply over the last 25 or 30 years.
One reason we have such high levels of inequality, compared to other advanced industrial countries, is because of our tax and, I would add, our social expenditure system. We have much lower taxes than almost every Western European country. And we also have a much less progressive tax system than almost every Western European country. As a result, the rich in this country manage to retain a much higher share of their income than they do elsewhere. This, in turn, enables them to accumulate a much higher amount of wealth than their wealthy counterparts in other countries.
Certainly our tax system has helped to stimulate the rise of inequality in this country. But we also have a much lower level of income support for poor families than do Western European countries or Canada. Social policy in Europe, Canada and Japan does a lot more to reduce economic disparities created by the marketplace than we do in this country. As a result, we have much higher poverty rates than do other advanced industrialized countries.
So Who Are The Rich?
To many Republicans, speaking with alarm about the gulf between rich and poor (or between rich and middle; or middle and upper-middle) is to invite the charge of fomenting “class warfare.” However, the question of wealth inequality has rarely stirred much passion in America except in periods of deep discontent, and, even then, it has usually been framed as a problem of “haves” and “have-nots” or (in recent years) “have lesses.”
But these disparities are serious. They underlie additional complaints about feelings of injustice, suffering, and a lack of shared sacrifice that are as old as humanity. They deserve respect rather than scorn. It is only by making a religion of the “free market” that anyone could possibly construct a reasonable-seeming justification for American-style differences in earning-power between, say, a janitor and an investment banker. But the poor are not the only victims of inequality, and the damage is not to be measured solely in material terms.
In the U.S., perhaps more than in any other prosperous society, inequality reaches into dimensions of life where most people would prefer to believe that money does not rule. The service someone receives from our education and health-care systems, to mention two large cases in point, is profoundly dependent on money and class. The economic givens of early childhood are frighteningly good predictors, in fact, not only of access to health care and formal schooling, but also of lifelong health and educational attainment.
Americans’ experience with the political process is also dramatically affected by their place on the socioeconomic ladder, and here, too, the influence runs both ways. Inequality shapes the system, and the system aggravates and perpetuates inequality.
The Rich in America are for the most part white and male. They are usually very well educated. This isn’t surprising. They’ve always had a multi-generational ticket into the country’s best prep schools and universities. The Rich also do better in other ways. They eat better than most of us. They get the best medical care. They generally live longer than the poor. Unlike most of us, they don’t have to worry about paying for their kids’ education, funding their retirements, managing their credit card debt, worrying about whether they’ll have a job tomorrow, or wondering where their next meal is going to come from. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said: “The rich are different than you and I.”
The Rich see Democrats as a threat because Democrats are prone to regulate and tax them, to redistribute their money, and to put brakes on their capacity for increasing their wealth. The Rich therefore vote overwhelmingly Republican because they see this as being in their economic best interests. They are quite correct in doing so. Republican administrations invariably do make the Rich richer.
Is this good for the country?
Not exactly. Great disparities in wealth, in the long run, usually make for great social turmoil. But if you’re among the Rich, it doesn’t matter. As they see it, you can never really have too much money.
The Rich also vote Republican for additional, but related, reasons. The Rich view the Democrats as the party of regulation and “big government.” The Rich oppose regulation because they see it as expensive to them, as cutting into their profits, and as putting curbs on their freedom to enhance their wealth. To the Rich “big government” – and any government the Rich do not control is usually too big -- is needlessly bureaucratic, inefficient, and wasteful.
To the Rich, the chief failing of “government” is that it is not run according to “efficient business principles.” Contrary to the views of many that have worked for corporations and other private businesses and seen their inefficiencies at close hand (the corporate idiocies parodied in the cartoon strip, Dilbert, come to mind here), the Rich invariably view a “business” enterprise as intrinsically efficient, productive, and therefore worthy of emulation and a governmental body as slothful, wasteful and inefficient. As the managers of such enterprises, the Rich also see themselves as the people best suited -- by intelligence, breeding, education, business experience, and sense of entitlement -- to govern America. Someone must guide the peons, after all.
The Rich love corporations because corporations are run along hierarchical lines. They also like them because, unless they engage in true massive fraud, a corporation’s owners and managers are ordinarily insulated from any kind of personal liability. Corporate bosses ordinarily aren’t accountable to the corporation’s clueless and faceless shareholders and their plaything, the corporation, can thus be utilized to pay their bosses’ mammoth salaries, lavish perks, and cushy retirements. Generally speaking, the Rich think governments should be run like corporations and for the benefit of corporations.
The Rich hate unions. They do so for the same reasons that they hate governmental regulation. Unions tend to interfere with managerial decision-making and cut into the bottom line - profits. This is another reason the Rich vote Republican.
Free trade is an attractive doctrine to the Rich because it’s supposedly based on scientific laissez-faire principles and allows businessmen to do what they want with their enterprises and the profits those enterprises generate (unless, of course, profits go south and the enterprise’s viability is threatened -- then the Rich usually ask for, and get, trade protection, Federal assistance, tax breaks, or bailouts for their ailing or infant industries). By contrast, to the Rich, there’s really nothing wrong in closing down a plant, crippling a local economy, and leaving a labor force destitute if doing so makes the corporation (and especially those running it) more money. It’s just “bidness”, you see, and management’s fiduciary duty is to its shareholders and not its workforce.
The Rich hate paying taxes. Taxes cut into private wealth. Money generated from taxes is also used for what the Rich view as “wasteful” public, rather than “efficient” private, purposes. Hence the Rich like to avoid paying taxes, putting their money into complicated shelters or banking it in countries that ask no questions like the Cayman Islands or Switzerland.
The Rich dislike environmentalism. Their critique goes like this: Mainstream environmentalism is a deluded ideology hostile to private property and common sense. It puts animals and trees before people and jobs. At best, it is a reflexive ally of a discredited liberalism; at worst, it is a cult-like alliance of nature-worshiping pagans. The green movement, its critics say, supports intrusive government regulation, and its actions impede the engines of economic prosperity and security.
Actually, the wealthiest of the Rich did little to get their money in the first place. Generally, they inherited it. Keeping it in the family is usually very important to them – a big reason why Republicans favor elimination of the estate tax (or “death tax” if you like the Republican name for it). Although the Rich worship Horatio Alger stories about self-made men and “captains of industry”, they have no qualms about passing their wealth on to their progeny, who, like their parents, have usually done nothing whatsoever to earn it. Dynasties are thus perpetuated.
The Different Philosophical Shades of Wealthy Republicans.
To the extent the Rich have a political philosophy (other than seeking to preserve and further enrich themselves) it is generally embodied somewhere among four “conservative” factions or camps – the Neoconservatives, the Fiscal Conservatives, the Moderates, and the Paleoconservatives. There is a certain amount of overlap, as well as mild tension, among the four.
A. The Neoconservatives:
A popular myth is that the present Neoconservatives are a bunch of liberals who somehow went astray. This myth is now somewhat dated. It is perhaps true that some of the intellectual forebears of the present-day Neocons actually were once liberals that believed in the “The Welfare State.” These proto-Neocons, however, joined the Republicans because they felt that the Left wasn’t being hard-line enough on the Soviets. On joining the GOP, they then supported policies that were militantly anticommunist but, true to their Democratic roots, they generally favored more social welfare spending than was popular with Libertarians and mainstream conservatives. Civil equality for blacks and other minorities didn’t bother the old time Neocons much and they actually had some sympathy with various aspects of a non-traditionalist Republican agenda.
But that was then, and this is now.
The Neocons that hold office in the present Bush administration – Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, and Condoleezza Rice -- have never been liberals. They’ve been Republicans for their entire public careers. Also, unlike their ideological forebears, today’s Neocons don’t really have any social agenda to speak of. They’re really just about foreign policy – spreading the benefits of unregulated free market capitalism and democracy to foreign countries like Iraq, opposing communism in Cuba, China and North Korea, and generally getting tough on Islamic countries and rogue states. If a profit can be made in the bargain, so be it. Witness Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton’s, involvement in the reconstruction of Iraq and Grover Norquist’s participation in post-Iraq planning.
Neoconservatives dislike the old approach to foreign policy that one might associate with Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger – i.e., pragmatic accommodations with dictators, peace sought through negotiations with the enemy, resort to diplomacy to resolve conflicts, arms control, détente, containment (rather than rollback) of the Soviet Union, and the forging of bilateral ties between the U.S. and Communist China. By contrast, the Neocons favor an interventionist foreign policy and a unilateralism that is totally at odds with traditional notions of diplomacy and international law. Neocons despise most of the Nixonian conventions, preferring confrontation and pre-emptive war to resolve nagging international problems – particularly so since the military demise of the Soviet Union. Neocons now basically see foreign problems wholly in terms of military power. We have it. Other countries don’t. So their thinking is: let’s take advantage of our weapons superiority and use it to make the world the way we desire it to be.
Intellectually, Neocons have been influenced by a range of thinkers. Chief among them are Max Shachtman (who espoused a strongly anti-Soviet version of Trotskyism), Milton Friedman (a libertarian leaning free-market economist), Leo Strauss (a Neoplatonic political philosopher), and Niccolo Machiavelli (an amoral Renaissance Italian political philosopher whose basic credo was the ends of state justify any means employed). The leading Neocon thinking today can be found in magazines like The Weekly Standard and The National Review. Don’t go there. These magazines sometimes are scary reading.
Neocons basically view today’s world in 1939 terms. Their heroes are Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, both of whom the Neocons liken to Winston Churchill. As Churchill stood up to Fascist Germany, so too, they reason, have Reagan and Bush stood up to the Soviet Union and terrorist Islam. The Neocons see Democrats as “appeasers” -- like Neville Chamberlain -- who would supposedly mollycoddle and negotiate with these foreign devils.
Neocons see America as founded on universal principles of freedom and democracy and America’s mission as remaking the world into its own democratic image.
Neocons are prone to use moralistic rhetoric – a trait they have in common with Fundamentalists. They demand, among other things, "moral clarity" in dealing with regimes that stand in the way of America's universal purpose. Such “moral clarity” means viewing the world in unnuanced black and white terms. Neocons are thus the champions of "virtue," with Neocon America representing all that is “good”. Those challenging America and its democratic values stand for all that is “evil”. “Good” must fight “evil” everywhere. Neoconservative rhetoric is very Manichean.
Neocons strongly believe in “nation-building.” They have a near-messianic belief in America’s need, and ability, to create stable democracies out of nowhere – usually following a U.S.- initiated, or supported, armed conflict. They like to compare their present ham-handed efforts at nation building in Iraq, for example, to the successful de-nazification and political reform efforts that took place in post-World War II Germany and Japan. Creating new democracies is important in the Neocon view, because one of their axioms is that “democracies do not engage in war with other democracies.” They forget, of course, that Hitler was democratically elected.
Of course, imposing democratic principles globally through mandatory regime-changes and military occupations does seem to run counter to basic American principles of self-determination -- something the Neocons, in the course of their democracy-building, don’t like to talk about much. Democratically elected socialists like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela do not fit into the standard Neocon Weltanschauung and give Neocons fits. When U.S. demands for free elections in Palestine yielded an Hamas majority, the Neocons promptly cut off all economic aid.
Neocons also believe, on principle, in defending “democracies” against aggression. In this regard, they are particularly keen on assisting the state of Israel in any way possible. The Neoconservative Project for the New American Century (“PNAC”) has called for an Israel that is no longer dependent on American aid. This worthy aim is to be accomplished through military removal of all major threats to Israel’s existence in the Middle East –a tall order. However, men like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, and Richard Perle are stand-up sorts of fellows and have shown themselves ready and willing to put their shoulders to the task.
During the 1990s, Neocons opposed the foreign policies of both Bush I and Clinton because both reduced military expenditures and both were, in the Neocon view, insufficiently idealistic. To their mind, both Bush I and Clinton lacked the "moral clarity" and gumption needed to vigorously and unilaterally pursue U.S. strategic interests abroad. Particularly galling to the Neocons was George H. W. Bush and Colin Powell’s decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power at the end of the Gulf War. The Neocons saw this as a betrayal of the Iraqi Kurds and Shiites (to say nothing of their favorite – Israel), although some of them, notably Dick Cheney, supported the action at the time. This “mistake” was something the Neocons have since been very eager to rectify. Hence, our most recent adventure in Iraq.
As compared with the Paleoconservatives and Libertarians (who are generally isolationist or non-interventionist – more on them in a minute), Neocons are quite willing to challenge foreign regimes that they feel are hostile to what the Neocons perceive as being important American values and interests. But while paying lip service to such values, Neocons have also been quite willing to abandon “virtue” and “moral clarity” and countenance actions and policies that are recognizably un-American – such as supporting undemocratic regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and inaugurating policies of indefinite detention and torture of prisoners in post-war Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo.
Neocons are also largely responsible for the so-called “Bush Doctrine”, a radical departure from prior U.S. foreign policy. This “Doctrine” is a proclaimed right on the part of the U.S. to wage pre-emptive wars should it find itself threatened by terrorists or rogue states. The Bush Doctrine also ominously states that the U.S. "will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States" – a corollary which hasn’t won America many friends abroad and makes some of our European allies – particularly France and Germany -- a tad bit nervous.
Today, the most prominent Neocons inside the Bush administration are Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, UN Ambassador John Bolton, and former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, (who was recently nominated to head the World Bank). There are lots more Neocons hanging about in other offices – particularly in the Defense and State Departments. Neocon pundits further abound in conservative think tanks and are regularly seen promoting their views on cable TV news programs. The Frank Gaffneys and Jim Woolseys of the world gotta eat too.
The exact number of Neocon voters would be a hard thing to gauge. Numerically speaking and in voting terms, there probably aren’t really too many of them. But the Neocons’ strength really isn’t a matter of numbers. Their importance lies in the fact that they have the President’s ear (to the extent Bush listens to anyone but God), occupy key positions in his administration, and are presently positioned in a fashion capable of formulating U.S. foreign policy. The Neocons have thus managed to stamp their philosophy upon the Republican Party – something some Republicans privately are increasingly unhappy and nervous about.
Some of the Rich are undoubtedly Neocons and support people like Cheney and Rice philosophically, but probably not that many.
B. Fiscal Conservatives:
These are the old-money boys – the pro-business Scrooge McDucks of the Republican Party. This faction constitutes probably the bulk of the Rich. They only care about money. They favor large reductions in overall taxation, reduced domestic spending, privatization of Social Security, and decreased governmental regulation of business. Originally, the pro-business branch of the GOP was practically defined by its support of protectionism, but in recent years they’ve been more supportive of free-market principles and treaties for open trade. Prominent fiscal conservatives include former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. These guys just want to get richer. There aren’t many of them numerically, but they have all the money and that makes them important policy formulators and power brokers. To the extent their interests and those of the Neocons converge, you have a happy marriage of money and weaponry.
C. The Moderates:
“Moderates” within the GOP tend to be, to varying degrees, fiscally conservative and somewhat socially liberal. Numerically they are a piddling and lonely bunch. While they share the economic views of Fiscal Conservatives - e.g. balanced budgets, lower taxes, free trade, deregulation, welfare reform - moderate Republicans differ in that they may occasionally be for affirmative action, some gay rights, abortion rights, campaign funding reform, environmental regulation, federal funds for education, gun control, fewer restrictions on legal immigration, or any of the above. On foreign policy, Moderates tend to be less interventionist than Neoconservatives.
Moderate Republicans include U.S. Senators Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania) and John McCain (Arizona), Californian Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former U.S. Secy. of State Colin Powell, and former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. These guys stand for what constitutes the “left wing” of the Republican Party. They don’t carry a lot of weight in the councils of power and are often despised by members of the other factions. Members of some of these factions sometimes characterize them as "Republican in Name Only"of “RINOs”. The Moderates are typically trotted out for speeches at Republican Conventions because they are seen as somewhat centrist and therefore less scary to normal American voters. After the Conventions they are singularly ignored by their fellow Republicans and often ostracized.
The Republican Main Street Partnership is a network supporting moderate Republicans for office, while the Republican Leadership Council is similar in direction. Former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman founded the "It's My Party Too!" PAC in order to promote moderate Republicans for office. The Republican Majority for Choice is a PAC of and for pro-choice Republicans, and is often allied with the moderate branch of the party. Former U.S. Sen. Maj. Leader Bob Dole has supported the "Main Street" Republicans. None of these organizations have much influence on Republican policy. You’ve probably never heard of them. I hadn’t either until I did some research. There’s a reason for our ignorance. They have no clout.
These are the benighted right-wing Republicans – the nativist, protectionist, minimal-governmentists and isolationists that are now perhaps best exemplified by Pat Buchanan or former independent presidential candidate Ross Perot. Some Rich Republicans espouse the Paleocon philosophy, so I’ve included it here. However, Paleoconservatism has a definite "blue-collar", populist tinge to it, with a strong distrust of a centralized federal government and a heavy appeal to Southern and rural Republican males. Hence, most Paleocon adherents fall within the “Anti-Liberal” bracket that I define more explicitly below. Paleocons make Republican Neocons and Moderates kind of nervous.
The Paleocons are very conservative on social issues (e.g. abortion and support for gun rights) and generally oppose multiculturalism. They favor protectionist policies with respect to international trade and hanker for a basically isolationist U.S. foreign policy. Most are actively against illegal immigration, and, sometimes, even against legal immigration – a particular reason for their blue-collar appeal. By contrast, Fiscal Conservatives like immigration because cheap labor generally means increased corporate profits.
Prominent Paleocons, like Pat Buchanan, have also spoken out against NAFTA and what they correctly see as the Neocon takeover of the Republican Party. Buchanan, an extreme Paleoconservative, actually left the Republican Party and ran as a third-party candidate in the 2000 election. Another Paleocon – Ross Perot – did the same thing in 1992 and his doing so had a lot with getting Bill Clinton elected both in 1992 and in 1996.
In contrast to the Neocons, the Paleoconservatives deny that any one universal political or economic model is a panacea for all societies and cultures – something that makes them wary of foreign wars, treaties, and support for the United Nations. America, for them, has no messianic mission for the world and has no place building an “empire” – at least not one based on active use of military power. Economic empire, however, is a whole different thing for Paleocons.
Paleocons, Fiscal Conservatives, Moderates, and Neocons are all pretty much on the same page insofar as they see untrammeled free-enterprise capitalism and representative democracy as being awfully good things. It’s just that Fiscal Conservatives, Moderates, and Paleocons aren’t quite as doctrinaire, ideological, or messianic about it as the Neocons. They are more about making money in foreign countries than building democracies in them.
Paleocons also purport to esteem principles of localism – something that gives them a big appeal in the South. They supposedly embrace “federalism” within a framework of “nationalism” and are thus staunch supporters of “state’s rights”. Paleocons are also more critical of the welfare state than the Neocons tend to be. Generally speaking, they hate federal power not only because it’s regulatory and therefore bad for business, but also because they see it as usurping state and local authority. Big government” is a repeated and pejorative mantra that Paleocons like to trot out and use – particularly on Democrats. However, if “Big Government” can get Paleocons a tax break, a bailout, a plum government contract, or a regulatory advantage, then they’re apt to be as much in favor of it as your average Democrat. As with all of the other Republican factions, dollar values usually have a way of trumping ideological ones.
Paleocons (and their Fiscal Con counterparts) used to be the guys who talked most about “fiscal responsibility” and “balanced budgets.” Unfortunately, neither of these items have been high on the agendas of the Neocons who have been recently responsible for setting Republican policy. Having gotten control of Congress, Fiscal Cons (with the acquiescence of their Paleocon brethren) have been horrendously profligate in their economic activities – lowering taxes for the Rich and spending enormous amounts on pet projects and financial giveaways for businesses and corporations. They have simultaneously tolerated Neocon funding of an expensive war in Iraq. The result has been record budget deficits and a burgeoning national debt. Throw in the damage to New Orleans and you have a long future written in scarlet-red ink -- another instance of ideology taking a back seat to monetary profit.
Compared to the Neocons, Paleocons are less doctrinaire about the blessings of “globalism” and free trade. During the Cold War many Paleoconservatives bit the bullet and grudgingly came to view some overseas treaty commitments as necessary to the defense of the United States. They don’t see such commitments as so beneficial now with the demise of the U.S.S.R. Many Paleocons, for example, supported NATO when it was a defensive organization but dropped their support when they saw NATO being used as a mechanism for U.S. intervention in Yugoslavia. Unfazed by the genocide that was taking place there, many Paleocons felt U.S. interests in Bosnia and Kossovo were either marginal or non-existent and Clinton’s interventions in those places, as well as in Haiti, were seen by them as silly, soft-hearted and wrong-headed.
Since the end of the Cold War, Paleocons have attempted to enlarge the rift within the conservative movement that exists between themselves and the Neocons. Although the demarcation line is often indistinct and shifting, harsh words have of late been exchanged between Neocons like David Frum of The National Review and Paleocons like Patrick Buchanan of The American Conservative. Frum has charged that Paleocons, in their sometimes harsh criticism of President Bush and his “War on Terror,” have become unpatriotic supporters of America's enemies and, at times, anti-Semitic. Buchanan and others have retorted that Neocons run the U.S. government in pursuit of global empire and for the benefit of Israel and multinational corporations with whom they have close ties. In doing so, Paleocons charge, the Neocons violate true conservative principles of sovereignty while creating new enemies and fomenting anti-Americanism abroad.
However, factional differences between Paleocons, Fiscal Cons, Moderates and Neocons are usually ignored when it comes time to vote. All see Democrats as the bigger enemy. Consequently, at election time they ordinarily close ranks and typically vote for whichever Republican candidate is running no matter what his purported “philosophy” is apt to be. As previously mentioned, the big exception to this came with the independent candidacies of Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 – something that split the Republican vote and enabled the Clinton Democrats to capture the White House. Republicans have never forgotten these defections. It’s one of the reasons their party-discipline has been so rigid ever since.
So that’s the Rich and what I think synopsizes the basic compendium of their ideological beliefs.
Unfortunately for Republicans, the Rich are numerically few. They have money and they have the power that comes with money. But the Rich also need votes if they want to continue to win elections, keep their kind of people in power, and maintain the cozy niches they’ve carved out for themselves at the top of America’s socio-economic pyramid. Getting the necessary votes requires the Rich to make distasteful compromises. Hence, they have allied themselves, generally for purely pragmatic reasons, to the following unlikely mix of Republican-voting bedfellows:
2. The Religious Right.
Let’s open again with some more CNN exit polling from the 2004 Election. The first thing to note is that Protestants overwhelmingly voted for Bush.
Bush Kerry Nader
Protestant (54%) 59% 40% 0%
Catholic (27%) 52% 47% 0%
Jewish (3%) 29% 74% 0%
Other (7%) 23% 76% 1%
None (10%) 31% 67% 1%
Of those Protestants, Evangelicals -- those identifying themselves as “Born Again” (23% of those polled – about one-third of the Protestant vote), voted for Bush by even bigger margins:
Evangelical / Born Again?/ Bush Kerry Nader
Yes (23%) 78% 21% 0%
No (77%) 43% 56% 0%
People regularly attending church also voted overwhelmingly for Bush.
Voting by Church Attendance Bush Kerry Nader
Weekly 61% 39% 0%
Occasionally 47% 53% 0%
Never 36% 62% 1%
The members of the “Religious Right” (I hereafter refer to them as “Fundies” for short) are generally true believers. They are a ready source of committed Republican activists. They are for the most part white and Protestant (the Protestants here being primarily Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians) although a large group of church-going Catholics vote with them.
These people see America’s biggest problem as its social permissiveness. They are usually well enough fixed that this concern trumps all other economic or political concerns they might otherwise have. If you are out of work and hungry, you vote your paycheck. If you have a steady paycheck, however, you can afford to worry about gay marriage, abortion, and the harmful effects of Janet Jackson’s breast popping out of a bra cup at the Super Bowl.
For the Religious Right, the Democratic Party is the great Satan – the party of Hollywood, abortion, birth control, rap music and agnosticism. Its secularism, relativism, pluralism, tolerance, and general irreverence all operate to repel them. This repugnance is well reflected in Fundie voting patterns.
Abortion genuinely troubles, and motivates, the Religious Right. They view it as murder. They see homosexuality simply as perversion -- a decadent life choice rather than an innate sexual orientation. Pornography, sexual permissiveness, and promiscuity of any sort or kind disgust them. The ready availability of birth control is seen as the root of such behaviors and instruction in the use and availability of birth control is therefore highly suspect. Sex outside of marriage is sin. Abstinence is therefore the best policy. Sex education and outfits like Planned Parenthood are consequently dangerous. .
For the Fundies (and here I mean the most vocal and most Republican element of the Religious Right), faith is ordinarily more important than thought. This is why secular Democrats find it so hard to argue logically with them. Fundie logic usually comes down to Biblical principles. The Bible, for a Fundie, is the written word of God. The fact that much of the Bible can be interpreted in many ways doesn’t daunt them. Given an option, Fundies will ordinarily give a piece of scripture the most conservative and literal interpretation possible. Debate, for Fundies, usually devolves into a battle of citations to scripture – with Leviticus more often cited than anything contained in the Sermon on the Mount. As a result, for Fundies, morality is a usually pretty much a black or white thing. There is good and there is evil -- a right way and a wrong way. Usually the good and the right way is the Fundie way. There isn’t much wiggle-room in between.
Fundies are also very uncomfortable with social change. Social change challenges the inherently correct and divinely ordained traditional values Fundies purport to believe in and live by. A multicultural society with disparate opinions, ethnicities, and values worries them because such a society is necessarily secular, pluralistic, tolerant and not exclusively Christian. The average Fundie therefore feels that his faith is under constant assault by almost every new social aspect of American public life. Sponge Bob and the Tele-Tubbies might be gay. Telling a high school kid about condoms might encourage their use. Shutting down abortion clinics will eliminate the demand for abortions.
The Fundies see all the cultural innovations they abhor as emanating from “liberals.” Democratic Hollywood is therefore demonized and the Republican-owned media giants responsible for funding and manufacturing the culture the Fundies purport to despise are given a free pass. Consequently Fundies have marshaled their ire and regularly ousted Democratic politicians from office to little or no effect on the media giants that are truly responsible for the sexuality and cheap tawdriness in American society they purportedly wish to eliminate. Thus, Fundie frustration only grows and the source of the frustration continues to flourish. Tom Daschle and Max Cleland can be thrown out of office, but Britney Spears and Madonna can still tongue-kiss with impunity on national TV. Such is the result of the Fundie penchant for eliminating economics from their political equation.
Many Fundies strongly back the state of Israel because they see its existence as foreordained in the Bible. But, paradoxically, they don’t care much for Jews in their own country because the Jews aren’t Christian. Muslims, Buddhists, and practitioners of other non-Christian religions get similar treatment from the Fundies. Similarly, and despite their ideological commonalities with many church-going Roman Catholics, Fundies don’t see Catholics as reliable allies. Catholics are beholden to the Pope and their true loyalties are, therefore, questionable. Moreover, much of Catholic dogma – universalistic, Vatican-guided, and rooted in Scholastic rationalism a la Thomas Aquinas -- runs counter to the individualistic sectarian literalism and reliance on faith that is basic to Fundamentalism. Catholics see the Bible as allegorical. Fundies take it literally. It’s the divinely ordained word of God.
As mentioned, Fundies are generally absolutists. They long for certainty in a world that is uncertain, constantly changing, and not simply black or white. As a consequence, they sometimes find themselves trapped in a belief and value system that is out of sync with many forms of modernity. Faith healing is seen as better than medicine for some Fundies. Others eschew the use of birth control for one divinely ordained reason or another. Some even see taxation as contrary to Christian principles. Science troubles Fundies a lot because it has the nasty habit of contradicting the literal word of Genesis. Popular culture worries Fundies a lot too. Movies, video games, and rap music are all basically too violent, sexually suggestive, and perversely corrupting, and therefore antithetical to their Bible-based traditional values. As a consequence, Fundies take refuge in their homes, churches, and families – comfortable in the company of co-religionists and away from the influence of misguided or sinful outsiders.
Fundies hate feminists. Feminism threatens the male-dominated hierarchic family structure embodied in the Bible that Fundies take as the model for their familial existence. The man makes all the important decisions in the prototypical Fundie household. The little wife, under this paradigm, is supposed to meekly follow along because “father knows best.” The Fundie woman is a stay-at-home housewife and definitely not a Cosmo girl.
Fundies like to home-school their kids, give financial support to hate-spewing televangelists, and picket adult bookstores and abortion clinics. They are sickened by the thought of gay marriage and they see nothing wrong with institutionalizing Christian prayer in the public schools. Because they believe in salvation only through Christ, atheists, agnostics and those adhering to non-“born again” theologies are perceived as erring sinners.
The Fundies’ penchant for exclusivity often makes them self-righteously intolerant of the beliefs of others unlike themselves. Fundies, for example, have a hard time understanding why a Jew might dislike the idea of nativity shrines being placed in public schools or why an adamant atheist might object to having his kids participate in a moment of silent prayer.
Some Fundies are Millenarians – believing that the end of the world is near. Others are Creationists or followers of variations of the Intelligent Design theory. Still others are of the pro-life ilk that gave us the Terri Schiavo carnival. They like putting their beliefs into textbooks and dignifying them as “alternative” views of scientific reality.
The Rich, who actually run the Republican Party, try to keep the Fundies agitated and voting Republican by throwing them an occasional bone -- a pro-life Supreme Court appointee, a proposed anti-flag-burning amendment, or a referendum to allow prayer in the public schools. This is usually enough to energize the Fundie base and enable the Republicans to garner the bulk of the Fundie votes. They vote in droves and, despite the frenetic voting, nothing that agitates the Fundies ever really changes.
In truth, the Rich (who generally aren’t fundamentalists themselves and are usually just as secular as the average Democrat) aren’t really all that comfortable around Fundies either. The Rich (usually Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, or Jewish) don’t share Fundamentalist Baptist beliefs and personally don’t really care for a lot of Fundamentalist Baptist values. Bush’s twin daughters, despite their father’s heralded born-again Christianity, are hardly poster-children for the Religious Right. Nancy Reagan’s campaign for a relaxation of rules curtailing stem-cell research is another example of mainstream Republican impatience with the Fundies. The Pentecostal former Attorney-General John Ashcroft (who felt the need to hang a cloth over the naked breasts of a classical sculpture of the Greek goddess of Justice) was generally considered something of a joke by most non-Fundie Republicans. Hence, the Republican sops to the Fundie wing of the party are often apt to be no more than empty rhetoric. Bush can publicly call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay-marriage and win Fundie votes, for example. But he does it knowing full well that such a measure has absolutely no chance of passage. Empty gestures like this are spoon-fed to the Fundies by Republican administrations all the time. The Fundies eat them up.
Until the present administration, mollifying Fundies was never really a major concern for the Rich (who, after all, are really the ones that set the Republican Party’s agenda). This was because the Rich knew that, outside of the Republican Party, the Fundies really had nowhere else to go. As a result, Fundies either voted Republican or didn’t vote at all.
Now, Fundies are more important to the Rich than in former years. Demographics matter. The number of minorities in America is growing and Republicans know that those minorities get citizenship papers and have children. These new citizens and their grown-up children are going to vote Democratic. This has forced the Rich to be more accommodating to Fundie views. Fundies can make for a numerically powerful Republican bloc if you can get them to feel really empowered, motivated, and voting for a cause they really believe in. Just ask Karl Rove.
3. The Libertarians.
The Libertarians are a strange group whose political philosophy is a marriage of ultra-conservative laissez-faire capitalism with radically tolerant private lifestyle behavior. The conservative economic side of the equation, however, is usually more important to most Libertarians than the liberal and socially permissive behavioral side. As a result, when it comes time to vote Libertarians are usually reliably Republican.
Libertarians are typically well-educated people. While seldom wealthy, there are enough of them around that they can fund some very loud think tanks such as the Cato Institute. Because many of them vote, the Republicans also try to keep them in the fold.
Mainstream Libertarians view any governmental regulation as a bad thing. It is governmental regulation, you see, that keeps rugged individualists from climbing to the top of the economic ladder. Aside from having an army for defensive purposes, radical Libertarians see little use for any of the institutions of government that most other people take for granted. If empowered, true Libertarians would move to eliminate all governmental institutions and all regulation.
Libertarians idolize the Rich. As they see it, the Rich are the winners in the game of life -- having acquired their wealth through “good ideas,” “hard work,” and their own “Herculean effort.” Lots of Libertarians are small businessmen or wage slaves that see themselves as would-be triumphant capitalists. Many think that they too could be rich and powerful if only the government would just “get off of their backs.” Libertarians worship “property” and “free enterprise”. They see property ownership and laissez-faire capitalism as dual solutions to virtually any human problem. Some Libertarians would even privatize our highway system -- turning it into a vast conglomerate of toll roads – if they could only get their way. National parks would be turned over to similarly innovative entrepreneurs.
True Libertarians have no use at all for expensive foreign adventures. Accordingly, one would think that they would view the aggressive foreign interventionism in Iraq with considerable mistrust. But as with many things Libertarian, ideology crumbles in practice. The Libertarian critique of Bush’s Neoconservative Iraq policy, for example, has been, shall we say, anemic.
Corporations are fine with Libertarians. They see them as a great way for everybody to hold property. Anyone can have a share in ownership and a Libertarian Nietzschean managerial type can use a corporation to climb that magical stairway to financial stardom.
Libertarians hate taxes because taxation prevents them from becoming wealthy and because the money raised from taxes is used to fund the governmental programs the orthodox Libertarian doesn’t like.
Many Libertarians see themselves as intellectuals, basing their philosophy on the almost unreadable literary musings of Ayn Rand. When pressed, however, Libertarians are usually extremely vague about the kind of world that their philosophy – if implemented--would actually produce. The fact that there has historically never been a truly Libertarian society anywhere in the world (the closest thing we’ve ever had to it in America was the era of the “Robber Barons”) is one of the most telling criticisms of Libertarian doctrine. Most Libertarians simplistically forget that there are historical reasons why we have a Federal Reserve System, an FDIC, Social Security, and a Food and Drug Administration. Life without governmental institutions and business regulation was tried for a period of time in America in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. If you weren’t a Cornelius Vanderbilt or an Andrew Carnegie, life wasn’t all that good. Read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” for a nice taste of it.
Socially speaking, orthodox Libertarians are pro-choice. They also, quite logically, don’t mind people carrying guns around with them. Unlike Fundies, gay marriage doesn’t bother Libertarians one bit. They would also legalize the use of heroin and de-criminalize prostitution. After all, your body is your property and as a property owner, you ought to be able to do pretty much what you want with it.
But despite their radically individualistic and secular social beliefs, when it comes down to voting, Libertarians invariably align themselves with the Republican Party. Perhaps they do this because they see the GOP as the traditional party of entrepreneurs. Or maybe it is because they see the Democratic party as being too regulatory. Whatever their reasoning, by voting Republican, Libertarians invariably ally themselves not only with their idols – the Rich, but also with their enemies -- the Fundies, a group that is the complete antithesis of everything Libertarians purport to cherish from a social standpoint.
Aside from occasional governmental support for their businesses (which the true Libertarian professedly doesn’t want), empty slogans (like the recent lip-service Bush has been paying to an “ownership society”), or the repeal of an occasional regulation or tax, the Rich usually reward Libertarian devotion with exactly nothing. So why do Libertarians vote Republican? Go figure.
4. The Anti-Liberals.
This is by far the biggest group of Republican voters in my opinion. They are usually white, mostly -- but not always -- male, and their basic common denominator is an inability to empathize with anyone other than themselves. Ideologically (to the extent they have an ideology), Anti-Liberals are almost all of the Paleoconservative persuasion, although some of them share some of the Fundies’ concerns about the direction of American culture.
Anti-Liberals may or may not be well educated. Their overriding characteristic is that they are extremely self-absorbed. They are usually not very interested in politics and too apathetic to be big-time Republican activists. Rather, most of them tend to vote Republican simply because it’s something they’ve always done and they see no reason to change. Because they've never been hungry, homeless, discriminated against, or gay-bashed, they find it hard to relate to anyone else that has. They view themselves as hard working, but regard the poor as lazy. They don’t care much for Blacks, Hispanics, or Gays because they are different than themselves; they’ve never associated with them, and they really don’t care enough about them to make any effort to understand their problems or aspirations.
Anti-Liberals are the kind of people that see affirmative action as reverse discrimination and an Equal Rights Amendment as girls sharing locker rooms with boys. They don’t like taxes either and basically see government as a pernicious state-created system whose sole raison d’etre is to dole money out to persons other than themselves.
The Anti-Liberals are mistrustful of intellectuals because such people are always Easterners or crackpot Californians. They are viewed as impractical, preachy, too concerned about politically correctness, and generally lacking in common sense. Anti-Liberals are the kind of people that called Adlai Stevenson an "egghead" and felt more comfortable voting for a regular guy like Eisenhower. George Wallace’s railing against “pointy-headed liberals” and in favor of “states rights” won their hearts. The Anti-Liberals didn’t view the fact that John Kerry spoke fluent French as something admirable. Rather, they viewed it as vaguely anti-American, highbrow, and effete. Foreign things aren’t popular with xenophobes. On the other hand, Anti-Liberals like Bush because he is a “regular guy,” as shallow and inarticulate as themselves -- the sort of fellow you’d be comfortable having a beer with.
Anti-Liberals don't read much, don’t pay a lot of attention to hard news, and aren’t much for “big ideas”. All that is seen as pretension or affectation to them. Instead, they prefer a lowbrow milieu of popular culture – taking pleasure in reality TV, NASCAR races, and especially country music which parrots their simple values. Most of their information about the world is anecdotal or filters in through the prism of Fox News. Anti-Liberals really don’t care much about current events because they don’t see politics as affecting their lives very much.
Most Anti-Liberals aren't particularly rich. However, they are adamant believers in the “American Dream” and think that maybe someday they can be millionaires too – possibly by winning a lottery. They see the Rich as having earned their wealth and they therefore should be allowed to keep it. Anti-Liberals hate taxes because they don’t think they get any benefit from them. They are especially attracted to flat taxes because they see them as egalitarian and simple. After all, if everyone paid 10% wouldn’t that be fair?
This group likes guns, especially handguns, and they are all too ready to use them – usually on misperceived intruders or, in drunken or angry moments, on their wives and children. While there are hunters among them, few of these self-styled outdoorsmen are engaged enough, or have enough of a developed sense of the commonweal, to be big environmentalists.
Anti-Liberals generally see the Democrats as naive, lacking in common sense, and as stupidly tenderhearted. They love Rush Limbaugh because he talks like them, thinks like them, and because he reinforces their own view of what the world is all about.
Although normally lethargic, Anti-Liberals can be roused to spastic fits of patriotism – usually of the most jingoistic sort. This is usually of the mindless “my country right or wrong” variety and is manifested more often by the brandishing of symbols than in a flurry of enlistments. Anti-Liberals are readily identifiable by the American flags flying in their yards, the tiny replicas of the Stars and Stripes worn on their coat lapels, or by the magnetic yellow “Support Our Troops!” ribbons they like to affix to the backs of their SUVs. If you see any of such emblems, rest assured that their owners vote Republican.
Anti-Liberals are the people that still think Saddam had something to do with 911 and that believe that Iraq’s WMDs were originally there all right, but were secretly shipped away to neighboring Syria just before the war.
“Liberal,” of course, is a dirty word to the Anti-Liberal, although few of them could explain what “liberalism” is or why it is such a bad thing. Most equate “liberals” with snobs or kooks – extremists that police the English language, show disdain for their lifestyles, or espouse far-left causes – like PETA or radical environmentalism.
The Rich keep the Anti-Liberals voting Republican chiefly by giving them occasional paltry tax breaks, bombarding them with simplistic media news spin, parodying Democrats as zany nutcases, and by employing wedge issues like “gay marriage,” “reverse discrimination,” and “immigration” to keep them passionate and aroused. More than this is seldom necessary because most Anti-Liberals usually vote Republican no matter what happens. They always have and they simply aren’t socially engaged or committed enough to do otherwise.
5. The Hierarchs.
I call this group Hierarchs because my preferred word for them -- “Supremacists” -- has been co-opted by the likes of the Militiamen and the Neo-Nazi Skinheads (who dislike Republicans just as much as they dislike Democrats). By Hierarchs, I mean those people that see themselves as superior to the great unwashed and uneducated masses that they believe populate the Democratic Party. The Republican Party, being whiter and more Anglo-Saxon, is far more to the Hierarch’s liking.
Hierarchs are the sort of people that think Blacks are mentally inferior to whites – either inherently or because of their poor education. They likewise view Hispanics as fit only for menial labor for essentially the same reasons. While most Hierarchs do nothing to actively harm Blacks, Hispanics, or gays, they nevertheless dislike being around them and do nothing to help them. Seeing themselves as deservedly at the top of an economic, educational, racial, or genetic pecking order, they see helping the lower-downs as upsetting the natural order of things. Indeed, many Hierarchs are actually economic or social Darwinists, who believe that the poor are that way because there is something inherently inferior about them. Others are smarmy pundits – the self-styled aristocrats and pseudo-intellectuals that typically occupy the Republican chairs in what passes for informed discussion on evening cable TV – the Anne Coulter, George Will, and Tucker Carlson clones that snigger when any reference is made to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. Other Hierarchs are more garden-variety -- the sort of people that see the neighborhood as falling apart if a Black or Hispanic family happens to move in. The least educated of the Hierarchs shade off into what we usually think of as “Rednecks” -- the Bubbas that like to fly Confederate flags as a badge of their values and in order to irritate Blacks. Many of these kinds of Hierarchs tend to live in rural areas or in gated suburban communities – where minorities are thankfully few – as opposed to urban areas, where one must actually see, work with, and sometimes actually associate with Blacks, Hispanics, and Gays on a first hand basis. Hierarchs, particularly those of the rural Redneck variety, also love their guns.
Some Hierarchs, of course, are outright bigots – the dangerous sort of people that burn crosses, beat up gays, or deface Jewish cemeteries. There are fewer and fewer of these people around, thankfully, but when they vote, they certainly don’t vote Democratic. The Republican Party isn’t particularly happy about having bigots in its ranks. Bigots sometimes become embarrassments. But the Rich seldom eschew their votes. That’s why you still hear a lot of weasel words from Republicans about “school vouchers”, “reverse discrimination,” “enforced busing”, and the dangers of “immigrants’ and “bilingual education”. Such code words have an appeal to a certain segment of the Republican constituency – mostly white high school educated males – who view themselves as either forgotten or victimized by the Democrats. Republican leaders know this perfectly well and freely capitalize on it.
This mixed bag – the Rich, the Fundies, the Libertarians, the Anti-Liberals, and the Hierarchs -- in my opinion, constitutes the hard-core Republican voting bloc. These make up the 30%-40% of the country that can be reliably counted upon to vote for people like George W. Bush (or any other Republican candidate) come hell or high water. They are the backbone of the Republican Party. A pretty picture, eh?