Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Ultimate EPIC FAIL

OK, let's do a show of hands for who watched Ralston last night. Come on. Hands up, everyone! (In case you actually didn't, here it is below.)

The Nevada G-O-TEA obviously still has a whole lot of questions to answer after this fiasco. How did their turnout actually drop a full 26% and 11,000+ voters from 2008? Why was it so difficult and painfully long to count fewer than 33,000 ballots? Who made the decision to require attendees at the Saturday night "Adelson School Campus" in Summerlin to sign a religious waiver in order to caucus?

Clearly, their whole strategy involved wishing and hoping and praying that:

1. The candidates gin up enough enthusiasm to bump up turnout.

2. Blind, crazed hatred of President Obama also does its part to rally the teabaggers to the caucus sites.

3. All that anti-Obama sentiment also rubs off on independents, and pushes them to go Republican.

4. The county parties know what to do once the caucuses start.

And clearly, nothing that they wished and hoped and prayed for came to fruition. The Republican campaigns didn't want to do party building for the state party. And particularly down south, the Clark County GOP just couldn't get it together.

And then, there's Obama. For 3 years now, Republicans have been trying to sell America on our supposed "failure" under President Obama. They've been painting this scene of destitution and despair. Oh yes, and they've been quite heavy on the malaise. Whenever one hears these G-O-TEA candidates speak, one gets the sense that they're speaking of an "America in decline", a once great superpower that's now being hobbled by those "REDS!!!" in China and "The Eurozone". Let's face it, the entire Republican plan for victory has been predicated on Obama's AND America's failure.

So when America doesn't fail, which means President Obama isn't failing, what else are they supposed to campaign on? No wonder why Karl Rove flipped out over Chrysler's Super Bowl ad... Starring Clint Eastwood, for goodness sake!

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The flap over the ad confirms the GOP’s serious branding problem: The problem for Rove and the rest of the GOP is that their party’s narrative has become relentlessly negative, pessimistic and uninspiring. They’ve left the language of optimism and resilience, higher ground and common ground, to the Democrats, and lately President Obama has grabbed every opportunity to employ that language. [...]

Karl Rove is angry because he sees the numbers, too, and he’s got to explain them away with dark allusions to “Chicago politics.” But the fact is the president saved the auto industry at a time when Republicans, most notably Mitt Romney, urged him to let it die. If he gets credit for that unpopular decision, that’s because he deserves it.

And if Clint Eastwood sounds like a Democrat when he talks about American ingenuity and optimism, that’s because increasingly it’s Democrats who sound that way – and Republicans who don’t. Ronald Reagan co-opted buoyancy and hopefulness for a generation, painting Democrats from Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis through Al Gore and John Kerry (with a break for Bill Clinton) as Negative Nellies, whiners and complainers always finding fault with America.

Now it’s Republicans who bad-mouth the American people, warning that lax morals and laziness are behind the problems of the poor and working class (including whites), and who paint scary dystopic pictures of America under its Kenyan anti-colonialist socialist black president. Karl Rove’s hissy fit over the Chrysler ad underscores exactly how bleak his party’s vision has become.

Listen to the likes of Dean Heller & Joe Heck preaching "AUSTERITY!!!", and it sounds like they're ready to not just rip apart our social safety net, but also give up on the American tradition of investment in innovation that's made us great. And listen to the actual "tea partiers" at the local "tea party" gatherings around the state, and it sounds like America's already been declared some sort of failed state. Funny enough, for all the Republicans' longing for "Ronald Reagan like optimism", they're now the ones pushing the negative "Blame America(ns) First" attitude that Reagan so hated.

Funny enough, this is something you won't hear Ralston and the Nevada G-O-TEA bosses discuss. Yes, obviously the party had plenty of logistical problems that led to so much mayhem. However, there's an even deeper problem with Republicans everywhere that I suspect is causing the lower turnout in Nevada, and in other states. Americans are by nature an optimistic people. We want to root for success, and we want to cheer on success once we start to see it. But in all their negative campaigning, the Republican campaigns have not just been bashing President Obama, but they've also essentially been cheering on America's failure. And really, who gets excited over all this talk of failure?

Frankly, Joan Walsh is right that this is problem we on the left faced in the past. When the likes of Walter Mondale and John Kerry rambled on about everything that was wrong in America, many Americans just wanted to tune them out. But now, it feels like the roles have genuinely reversed. President Obama has the quintessential story of American Exceptionalism, and he's offering a positive vision of American success that we see working. Yet while Obama gives us reason to believe in American success, all the Republicans talk about is how we've supposedly failed. And since actions speak louder than words, what their G-O-TEA friends in Congress are doing looks even worse. Again, why would voters want to embrace their vision of a failed state in need of being restarted from scratch?

So now we can see why some Nevadans probably decided that a day on the ski slopes or a day preparing for "The Big Game" was more worthwhile than the Nevada Republican Caucus. Not only couldn't the party get the process right, but the party no longer wants to celebrate what's right about America. The days of them supposedly having a "lock on patriotism" are clearly long gone.

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