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12/17/02

Trent Lott, The Sacrificial Lamb

By Sheldon Drobny

In an image from television, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., is interviewed on Black Entertainment Television from the studio of a CBS affiliate in Mobile, Ala., Monday, Dec. 16, 2002. The Senate GOP leader is trying to recover from insensitive remarks he made at Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party earlier this month where he praised Thurmond's run for the presidency as a segregationist in 1948. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)I like Trent Lott.  He is an affable and articulate communicator and leader of his cause.  I do not sense any hatred in this man and I can only sympathize with him during this difficult period when the Republicans are attacking him ruthlessly.  He must be feeling abandoned by those who share his philosophy and have wanted him as their leader for several years.  But even Trent Lott must be confused.

The confusion for him has to be that he is being chastised for speaking frankly about what the majority of Republicans believe.  Republicans are against almost everything that the majority of the African American community advocates.  His statement at a 100th birthday party for Strom Thurmond was an accurate reflection of his beliefs in a jovial and informal setting.  What the Republicans are angry about is that he said out loud what most of them believe or are willing to tolerate in their own party.  It is a fact that the former southern Democrats and Dixiecrats are all in the Republican Party.  That is why it is now so difficult for Democrats to win the South in a national election.  Even Al Gore did not win one Southern state.  And that is why the Republicans embrace these former southern segregationists.

The Republican platform is perfect for segregationists because, for the most part, only the Democrats have a policy that advances the underprivileged minorities.  The southern segregationists were a terrible problem for the Democrats until the 1964 Civil Rights Act, when they abandoned the Democratic Party and joined the party that opposed civil rights, the Republicans.  The Republicans to this day are the greatest adversaries to minorities and the underprivileged.  I could give you a laundry list of issues that they oppose concerning the plight of the poor and minorities.  From universal health care to welfare Republicans have consistently abandoned those who need help the most.  Republicans have not seen a military weapon they haven't loved, nor have they seen a humane program they have not hated.

In this modern age when discrimination and racism are now not openly advocated, the Republicans use code words in their agenda, to advocate the very same beliefs they have always had.  The rich and the powerful deserve all the power and privilege because, well, they deserve it.  Republicans believe that people are rewarded for their deeds and therefore logically conclude that the poor must not be helped because they are intrinsically lazy or incapable of raising their standard of living.  Republicans actually believe that lowering the tax rates for the rich will benefit the poor, because the rich will then be creating jobs to help improve the standard of living for the poor.  Republicans have provided no evidence of this because they simply cannot.  History tells us that the rich will not help the poor in any meaningful way unless they are forced to.  Social change in America in the twentieth century, which includes worker rights and government programs to help the poor and the elderly, did not come from the party of big business.

So the Republican Party goes on with this façade of fairness when they are really advocating Social Darwinism.  They really believe that in the area of standard of living, it is only the strongest that will prevail.  Under those circumstances, the last thing they want to do is advance the cause of those who may be inferior from a Darwin evolutionary point of view.  By the way, in a more extreme way, that is what Hitler advanced concerning his belief in racial purity.   So the Republicans use code words, words that are no longer inflammatory or blatantly segregationist, to advance their segregationist cause.

In this modern era of communication, the code words for attacking fairness for the underprivileged is to attack the Democrats and progressives as “tax and spend” advocates.  Republicans have also demonized the word liberal.  The Republicans, including the President, embrace the most hateful bigoted groups as their base, including Bob Jones and members of the religious right.  Many moderate Republicans are even in denial, believing that they cannot win elections without the support of the hate groups.  And they would rather win than separate themselves from such evil causes.  The so-called moderates are the biggest danger to equal rights because they are enablers for the hate groups that hide out within the Republican Party.  The moderates actually give credibility to Bob Jones et. al. by embracing their support.  Moderate Republicans embrace the idea that the ends justify the means.  I hope soon that these sensible Republicans separate themselves from such evil as the Democrats did after the Civil Rights Act.  They choose not to do it now because they know they cannot win without them, something Nixon realized early in the game. Just ask John McCain, who got slaughtered during the 2000 Republican primary like Trent Lott is being butchered now.

So poor Trent Lott gets the blame for saying out loud what the Republicans stand for.  It is going to be interesting to see how this one plays out.  If the Democrats are smart, their leaders will use this chance to show marginalized people the real colors of the Republican Party.  Republicans are segregationists and racists in disguise, using Democrats as their whipping boys and calling them the party of tax and spend.  Democrats should counter that Republicans are the party of privilege, power, and racism.  Why else would they call us tax and spend?

Republicans know that Democrats are humane enough to help the powerless by allocating something from the budget to help them.  How evil can the Democrats be?

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Sheldon Drobny is co-founder of Air America Radio, providing talk radio for the majority of Americans.

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