Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Change You Expect

I'm baffled by the Conservative agenda and the means by which Republican leadership markets it. Those that label themselves Conservative tend to speak vigorously about their political philosophy in bullet points regarding abortion, gay marriage, and the economy; in general, they favor a status quo ante - a return to the old days. Expect to hear plenty about this in the upcoming election, as candidates push in front of one another to advertise just how Conservative they really are. But, in the wake of yet another ominous defeat for an open House seat in a Conservative Republican stronghold - this time in freewheelin', dope-smokin', unborn-baby-killin', Mississippi - Republicans in the House plan to outline a new agenda and freshen up the Conservative message.

This one, a seven-point affair, is supposed to counter the Obama "change" rhetoric by bolstering the new Republican catchphrase, "The Change You Deserve". This shift is a far cry from the general Conservative agenda that underscores antispending initiatives, tighter restrictions on government benefits, changes to the tax code, and work-for-welfare benefits, instead focusing on antispending initiatives, tighter restrictions on government benefits, changes to the tax code, and work-for-welfare benefits. Keep in mind these major platform initiatives came out of an intensive, closed-door affair with leaders of the Republican Study Committee and publicized Tuesday.

In essence, the change you deserve is the change you expected when you, the presumptive Republican voter, pulled the level four years ago, and four years before that. This time, there's a promise from the House that they will really, really, follow that platform you voted them in on. For eight years, Republican voters have become engaged in this domestic violence situation, voting for a party that continues to slap them around but, when the whiskey stops talking for it, convinces you that it really does have your best interests at heart. It's because the party loves you so much that it hits you, how stupid can you be? Maybe voters should stop with the sass-talk against their insane spending and you wouldn't "fall down the stairs" so often.

In essence, prospective Republican voters are being held hostage by their commitment to a values platform the party pays lip-service to between shoving pork legislation into vital spending bills and lining up their Friday night date with that new attractive 14-year-old Congressional page that brought coffee to the House floor last week. The party has become an entity unto itself, more concerned with self-preservation than maintaining loyalty to voters, or even enacting legislation that will be constructive beyond making headlines for reelection. "Pretend like we never used Bush as a tool for reelection four years ago - wow, what was THAT guy thinking - we never liked him! Make a donation at our website and let's stomp those Democrats that ruined the country in the last eight years! THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT TAKING YOUR GUNS AWAY, PEOPLE!"

This sort of two-faced electioneering should come as no surprise to anyone as this is the nature of politics in the 21st century: self-preservation by any means necessary. Contradictions are the backbone of any political party. Giuliani was "OK" with rolling back Roe v. Wade after his opposite position on the issue throughout his political career. Kerry would properly manage the Iraq War to victory, only to oppose the war almost immediately after losing the general election. H.W. Bush's "no new taxes" speech, Clinton's "sexual relations" denial, Reagan's tax hike in his second term, Spitzer's prostitution mess, the list goes on and on. These are usual contradictions, the type that arise in the murky middle between political aspirations and damage control. But at this point, for the Republican establishment to underscore "change" as a tenet of the party by reaffirming an ignored belief in fiscal responsibility and core values is as disgusting as it is laughable.

This new "Change You Deserve" mantra spits in the face of every voter who expected these values when they made a vote. It's a cheap attempt to disassociate Republicans with a leader they've rallied behind through wars, irresponsible economic policies, political bribes masked as economic stimulus checks, Wall Street bailouts, and a myriad of polarizing social initiatives that have cleft the party base. The real question lies in whether or not voters will recognize this as yet another ploy concocted by political cockroaches with an eye toward self-preservation or if it will cause a sea change in Congress.

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