Inside the Romney households, the mood was not joyful.
“What the heck do these people want? I’ve said every crazy gosh-darn thing they want me to say. Corporations are people! Fertilized eggs are people! The only things that aren’t people are people, the Muslims, undocumented foreigners, and gays anyway!” Mitt’s color had turned slightly pink as he, uncharacteristically, felt emotions.
Tagg, teleconferencing in from the $10 million lakefront summer estate in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, sighed, “Dad, you have to show them that you feel that hatred. They hate imaginary liberals telling them what to do. It’s doesn’t matter that there isn’t any liberal nanny-state that’s taking away their right to own guns, shoot foreigners, or whatever, they hate the idea of such a state.”
“Are you saying they want me to hate some imaginary enemies for them? Didn’t they outgrow that whole idea of imaginary beings when they were little?”
“Look, there’s a legislator in Oklahoma who wants to ban the practice of using aborted fetuses in research or preparation of foodstuffs. Seriously. He’s afraid we’re cannibalizing fetuses. Do you think that guy, and the people who think like him, are worried about whether there really are aborted fetuses in food? No. He’s outraged by the very possibility of such a thing whether it’s real or not. Take Saul Alinsky.”
“Who’s Saul Alinsky?”
“That’s exactly my point. As it turns out, Grandpa knew him. He was just a guy who tried to help ordinary people make changes in society by working together against the entrenched interests of the bureaucracy. You know, democracy in action. In fact, he’s exactly the kind of person that the base of your party should approve of because he was working outside government to help ordinary people make changes when that government was not responding to their needs.”
“What does he have to do with this?”
Matt, from the relatively modest near-million dollar townhome in Boston, jumped in, “You see, Glenn Beck and now Newt Gingrich have inflated him into some invisible puppet-master, pulling the strings of Obama, the government, and everything they hate about the world. He’s Jewish, that never hurts, and his name sounds sort of Old-World to them. So, they equate him with communism too. The only problem with him, really, from their perspective is that he actually exists. People could deflate their bubble a little by pointing out facts about him that conflict with their narrative. That’s not really important at this point, though, since the Gingrich-faction of the party is well beyond facts and subsists entirely on bile. Facts are irrelevant.”
“So, should I just start demonizing this Alinsky fellow too? Would that make them happy?”
Josh, from the $12 million soon-to-be-expanded home in La Jolla, California, shook his head. “It’s too late. You don’t want to look like you’re following Newt. What you need to do is show them that you are part of their group. You need to create an enemy, like their enemies, and scream at it with the same fervor they have. Then they’ll see you as part of their in-group by you evincing contempt and hatred for the out-group. Try not to scream literally, though, you don’t want to end up in the asylum with Michele.”
“Why can’t I show that my membership in their group just by telling them that I’m a member? They obviously don’t care about what we do, only what we say. These are ‘values voters’ who vote for the guy who cheated on two wives when they were sick; banged his staffer who’s 20 years younger than he is before making her his third wife; got kicked out of the house leadership for multiple ethics violations –and by his own party; took huge amounts of money from the companies he demonizes on a daily basis as the cause of the country’s financial woes; worked for at least a decade as a lobbyist – I mean, historian – in Washington, and was a general failure as a leader—leading his party to massive electoral defeat. I mean, it’s not like they value honesty, integrity, or even competence.”
It was Craig’s turn to break some bad news. “It used to be enough that you just talk their language. W got elected by speaking a careful code that the fundies recognized but others did not. Then, when the power went to their heads a little, they started to demand more forthright obeisance to their crazy ideas. That’s how we got Mike Huckabee.”
“Oh, yeah, the Huckster.”
“So, now you have to go beyond coded messages and a wink-and-nod, say things outright. You may still want to be a little vague since no one really wants you to follow their ideas to their logical conclusion. Don’t advocate trying mothers who’ve miscarried on murder charges. No one wants the death penalty for people who’ve miscarried. The base isn’t really big on logic anyway. Still, fealty to a set of ideas is not enough, and has never been enough, really. The idea is to make them see you as part of their group, and the defining feature of their group now is just anger at, and hatred and fear of other groups. So, what you have to do is create some paranoid conspiracy about shadowy figures and organizations that work for their own ends at the expense of ordinary people.”
“You mean, like Bain Capital?”
Now Ben sighed. “No, and don’t let any feelings of guilt for taking away people’s jobs bother you. If you feel anything, project those inner demons onto the imaginary out-group. They’ll like that; they do a lot of projection. Here’s what I suggest. Make up some fake person. Maybe we can plant a few fake papers in an archive somewhere. Can you get access to the Library of Congress? Claim this person is behind a shadowy network of government officials and institutions that want to take their hard-earned benefits away and transfer them to unworthy, darker-skinned individuals. Then pick out something they hate, like taxes or schools or science, and tell them that it’s a plot to take their money and give it to black people.”
“And they’ll believe that? I mean, that’s crazy.”
“Dad, have you been paying attention?”
“OK. So, I say, ‘Barack Obama and Goldstein are working to undermine our great nation by subverting the faith of our fathers and mothers and creating an industry of so-called climate science which spends huge amounts of money in equatorial nations but the real purpose is the transfer of our wealth into the hands of equatorial peoples who will then use that money to do worship Allah, plan terrorist attacks, buy drugs and alcohol, and breed uncontrollably—with our women—and they won’t even let us have any of the fun.’”
“Not a bad start. Just a few things to fix. First, it’s the faith of our fathers, not our mothers. I think you know what that’s all about. Second, remember, they don’t want fun, they just want to make sure no one else has any, so skip the last bit. Make sure they fear these equatorial people. Can we say some of them are Muslim pigmies who disguise themselves as children, fake citizenship and get free education, health care and Cadillacs at taxpayer expense?”
My apologies if this reconstruction has made Mitt Romney seem vaguely human, but I’ve almost begun to feel some sympathy for him lately.