Thanks For The Feedback
Today's featured reader comment comes from "Grace_5," who asked the following in the post: "Inside The Mind Of A Republican Delegate."
I have some questions, Mr. Frum, that I'd love for you to address in a future column.
Here you paint what you seem to imply is a portrait of a typical GOP delegate. Sounds fair enough to me, although I'm probably not the best judge because I'm not a movement 'conservative.' But you're describing a 'little guy' -- I can imagine him as a guy who owns an auto parts store in Anytown, Iowa, and belongs to a Tea Party. Listens to Rush and Hannity on the radio at the store, goes home to an evening with Greta and Bill O'Reilly, and listens to his pastor from a church pew on Sunday. We all know the messages he's consuming pretty much 24/7, whether we agree with them or not. You hold him up as an object of study and example for comment by those here (right and left) and, depending on our politics, we either mock or cheer his ideas.
But while we're dissecting Mr. Average Delegate, you're not asking us to look at the motives, attitudes, and methods of the people funding the GOP who are pouring billions (and have been for decades) into 'informing' Mr. Delegate. Once again, just as in the wake of the bank meltdown, we are encouraged to focus on the little guy and never pull back the curtain on the real power in the party. What are the elite's motives? What are their goals? Why have they worked so long and spent so much money to be sure Mr. Delegate is looking at his neighbors rather than the bankers/CEO's or their wholly-owned politicians when he assigns blame for his declining fortunes? Why does he believe the teachers who educated his children and the firefighters who would save his store are moochers because of their 'lavish' benefits, while the incompetent bankers who received trillions of our tax dollars when their casino collapsed have his best interests at heart? What is the elite's end-game, their vision of our future?
And with Citizens United, and the 'dark money' operations, we now have billionaires from around the world funding the messages Mr. Delegate hears and the pols they want to have elected. The Chinese billionaire can set up a shell corporation (they're people too, my friend!) and play away in our elections. Heck, forget the Chinese: what does Sheldon Adelson want in return for his millions of donations? Freedom from federal prosecution for his overseas gambling operations? A blank check for Bibi Netanyahu's agenda? Who knows? But there's a reason the GOP is forever either demonizing or deifying the little guy: because it's much easier for them to pursue their agenda unnoticed if we're at each other's throats, rather than looking around to see who's actually gaining under their policies.
I have to say: even though we're 180 degrees apart on our politics, I feel sorry for Mr. Average Delegate being held up for public dissection of his views and attitudes, while Mr. Adelson and the dark money crowd are never held up by the media for the same examination.
It's a great question from "Grace_5." I hope I won't sound like I'm advertising, but if you want to know my view of this question, I've just written a whole book about it! The story of Patriots is the story of how great wealth is deployed for political ends -- and how people are mobilized to fall in line. I quite agree with you, the ideas described in my little satire today have been elaborately instilled. It takes more than a couple of paragraphs, however, to describe the process.
Thanks for the Feedback is a recurring feature. Comment on the blog for the chance to have your question answered by David Frum.