I spent 44 years in the GOP. More than half that time, I worked in politics as a Republican in Washington, DC. I was a corporate lobbyist and a registered foreign agent. My clients were mostly Fortune 100 companies, foreign governments, and trade associations.
I worked with CEOs and heads of states and their ambassadors in Washington. It was comfortable surroundings for a Republican lad from the American Midwest. As a GOP stalwart, these were my people.
I will not pussyfoot around it. I was an insufferable snob as I look back on it. In the GOP, I had surrounded myself with fellow snobs. We got together and just knew we were better than everyone else.
The first time I heard the term “useful fools,” it was from the mouth of Lyn Nofziger, one of President Reagan’s friends and advisers. He used the phrase about the Religious Right. I had raised a concern that perhaps we had opened a Pandora’s Box by inviting religious zealots into the party.
Lyn looked at me like I had just lost my mind. He turned to me and said, “Do you know how many people Jerry Falwell reaches per week? We want their votes. We can control the useful fools.”
The GOP loves to use people. In public, there is high praise for their positions and their beliefs. We would feign enlightenment at their words to manipulate them and their bases. We gave sincere assurances we were on the same team.
It was all, utter bull.
When they left, it was another story. Putting on an air of superiority, we mocked all who were not elites and made fun of their simplicity. We took pride we had co-opted people for whom we had no more use for than we had for the Democrats.
Our constituency was business.
Workers are not the constituents of the GOP; white working class people are not the constituents of the GOP, even high-income earners are not the constituents of the GOP. The GOP exists to serve business owners. Everyone else, the religious, the racists, the homophobes, the right-to-lifers, the conspiracy theorists, all are pawns in service to the monied in America.
It was not until I started a lobbying and public relations company and became a business owner that it dawned on me I had been a useful fool too. Until my name was on the door of a firm, and the title “President” was on my business card, I was not a full member of the club. Despite a six-figure income, I was a worker and not a whole member. "Welcome to the club, Bob," one GOP Senator told me the day my firm opened for business.
If you want proof of what I say, look no further than the GOP Tax Bill sprinting through Congress.
The Tax Bill is not a landmark piece that will bring jobs back to the Trump base. It harms the very people who feel the pain of loss from business leaving their communities. It will make the plight which drove them into the waiting arms of Donald Trump worse.
Many of those who voted for Trump depend on the US Government for money to run their schools, pay for their Healthcare, and many are on public assistance. They want jobs, and there are no jobs in their communities.
Many in the Trump base are swallowing their pride and have enrolled in food assistance programs. It hurts their pride. They want to work and earn their way rather than take charity.
Donald Trump told them he hears them and will help. It was pure manipulation. It was cruel. He does the same thing when he stands on an altar and allows the profoundly religious to lay hands on him and pray for him.
The workers who have hopes of a better life, the religious who think Trump is now one of them, the racists who believe Trump will turn the tide of racial equality around, all are merely pawns.
The Progressive Movement was born at the end of the Industrial Revolution. Journalist Herbert Croly saw a bridge between Communism and Capitalism and called it Progressivism. A central theme of Progressive thought is that Government exists only to protect workers.
The GOP says this is just an awful case of Democratic elitism and discriminates against everyone else. Really? The GOP needs to look into a mirror. They hold the same principle; only the target is different. The GOP just serves business owners. The rest of us are a means to an end.
The Tax Bill proves it. That bill hurts every American in the long term. It harms the poor and the elderly the most. It strips entitlements and will create more poverty for the people who pinned their hopes on Donald Trump.
What will happen when they wake up and figure out they are pawns in a cruel game of greed?
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