Big business politics

By Ellen Ratner

After spending this past week at the Republican National Convention, I am convinced more than ever that the Republican Party is run like a big business. They treat constituencies, candidates and now national events as though they were products to market and sell. As of this writing, God, American troops, Sept. 11 and tax cuts are the “products” that the Republican Party is selling to the American people.

Take God, for example – or more specifically, Jesus Christ. One Christian friend of mine described the first night of the convention as an evangelical revival meeting. There were “testimonials” and delegates raising their arms in praise during “Amazing Grace.” The speakers’ podium looked like a pulpit, not a podium. There were two obvious crosses embedded within the wood, one large cross in the main pulpit and one small cross in the pulpit next to it. Intentional? You bet.

When I asked one of the convention directors about the crosses he just smiled. The revival meeting continued through the week, but the capstone was Zell Miller’s speech. Sen. Miller was a true convert, sharing his salvation with the congregation by vilifying John Kerry, another Christian.

It’s no secret the Republican Party owns the Christian Right. We’ve been down that road in this column once or twice. They even got into a little hot water when they crossed the line and used church attendance registries to solicit money. It’s one thing for Republicans distract our nation in a time of need on social issues that have absolutely no chance of succeeding, (e.g., Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment). But this use of subliminal symbolism crosses the line, (so to speak).

Jesus is not the only product being marketed. The Republican Party would have America think that a vote against their party, is a vote against our troops. The Republicans would have you believe that John Kerry’s vote against the $87 billion Iraq supplemental bill was a vote against our troops. This accounting myth needs a good audit. The $87 billion does not go to the troops. As John Edwards said, “It amounts to writing a blank check.”

A favorite Republican sound bite is that John Kerry said, “I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” The line stops at that. Yes, it does sound ridiculous when taken as it is. But some American brains are actually able to handle more information than can be delivered in a cute line. The reasoning behind this statement is about supporting our troops vs. supporting big business. John Kerry initially voted for the $87 billion until he saw how the money was allocated. John Kerry believes our troops need the money, not the Republican donors and “sales representatives.”

Here are the facts in terms of supporting our troops. The men and women who have served and are serving along with their family members are crying out for help. The National Guard and Reserves – the ones who President Bush compares his service during Vietnam to – are still without proper training, pay, and medical care, and many are losing their jobs or being discriminated against in the workplace.

If you are interested in reality vs. rhetoric, I recommend you take a look at www.optruth.org. It’s a website which details the pathetic state of this administration’s “support” for our troops. They have all served in Iraq and their motto is “We were there.” Air Force, Army or Navy Times also shed light on the lack of support these men and women with George W. Bush as their commander in chief.

I could go on with Republican marketing prowess, like the hijacking of Sept. 11. They resurrected the old link between the war in Iraq and Sept. 11. Only few months ago, they admitted that there was no connection. This would be called a “flip flop” if John Kerry had done it.