Saturday, December 06, 2003

Republican Parables, Republican Myths

I received this "joke" in an email recently. Pardon me for being analytical, but I think one must buy into the underlying premises to find it funny. I don't.

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat and was for redistribution of all wealth. She felt deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican.

One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to higher taxes on the rich & more welfare programs. In the middle of her heart-felt diatribe based upon the lectures she had from her far left professors at her school, he stopped her and asked her point blank, how she was doing in school.

She answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain. That she had to study all the time, never had time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of spending all her time studying. That she was taking a more difficult curriculum.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is your friend Mary." She replied, "Mary is barely getting by", she continued, "all she has is barely a 2.0 GPA" adding, "and all she takes are easy classes and she never studies." But to explain further she continued emotionally, "But Mary is so very popular on campus, college for her is a blast, she goes to all the parties all the time and very often doesn't even show up for classes because she is too hung over."

Her father then asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your 4.0 GPA and give it to your friend who only had a 2.0." He continued, "That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter visibly shocked by the fathers suggestion angrily fired back, "That wouldn't be fair! I worked really hard for mine, I did without and Mary has done little or nothing, she played while I worked real hard!"

The father slowly smiled and said, "Welcome to the Republican Party!"

This is a typical Republican parable parading as a joke. The analogy assumes most of the rich are self-made people who have not benefitted from connections. People who believe that probably also believe Dubya got into Yale based on grades and standardized test scores. They also believe that his daddy's friends funded his failed oil business because they were impressed with his smarts, experience and business savvy. And they probably also believe he was allowed to become a minority owner in the Rangers because of his business experience and baseball knowledge and didn't even realize he was "that George Bush."

As has been said before, Dubya is like his daddy. Born on third base, convinced he hit a triple. In fact, he seems far worse than his father on that score.

This analogy also assumes that everyone that is struggling to keep their head above water is in that situation because they are irresponsible and refuse to work hard. Even worse, they struggle because they are shameless, hedonistic libertines.

The message: Republicans are hardworking folks who’ve earned everything they’ve got and should not be required to share with the lazy, shiftless riff-raff that comprise the Dem party.

There are other sub-messages. Of course, there is the tired notion that ultra-liberal professors indoctrinate the young to become hard-left Democrats. This belief persists despite the fact that the number of people self-identifying as liberal has declined over the years. Another ridiculous assertion is that Dems believe that Bill Gates should be taxed until he has no more than a drunk on the street. Everything must be equalized—you get a 3.0 GPA, I get a 3.0 GPA.

John Edwards has probably made the best economic argument thus far in the campaign. Bush favors policies that favor wealth, not hard work. People who've never worked a day in the life may benefit from receiving a capital gains tax cut. One can sit by the pool and drink themselves silly and receive a tax cut. Paris and Nikki Hilton have fared very well under Bush and they seem to do little else but jet set from party to party. Dick Cheney received a bonus every year from Halliburton even though he never actually met the performance standards spelled out in his contract that were supposed to determine his bonus. He received a form of "social promotion", so to speak. Didn't earn it, but what the heck. He was also rewarded with the same severance he was promised if he worked a particular length of time, even though he left two years sooner than he was supposed to get it. Most Republicans don't even recognize the contradiction. In fact, most people don’t. These myths create our perception of reality, even when that perception cannot survive meaningful scrutiny.

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