...I have a theory about a similarly subversive process that turns grown men once capable of independent and reasoned thought into robotic extremists. Call them Stepford Republicans. The nefarious transformation always occurs before the individual gets close to becoming a Republican president or vice president.
Stepford Wives become robotically subservient only to their husbands; they pose no threat to the rest of us. But Stepford Republicans become subservient to right-wing forces of corporatism, war and prejudice. Once converted into mindless ideologues, Stepford Republicans are a threat to us all.
The prototype of a Stepford Republican is President Ronald Reagan. After his apparent abduction and alteration, he became an instrument of corporate power in the White House: union-busting, downsizing, cutting school lunch funding. This is the Reagan many remember: champion of the overdog.
But when Reagan was still a sentient being, he was actually a bleeding-heart advocate for working people. He denounced budget cuts (”millions of children have been deprived of milk once provided through the federal school lunch program”) and tax cuts that “benefit the higher income brackets alone.” He assailed corporate profiteering, and labeled a top Republican “the banner carrier for Wall Street.” He hailed unions and complained that “labor has been handcuffed by the vicious Taft-Hartley law.”
In other words, before he was robotized, Ronald Reagan could be a warm, compassionate human being - and I offer a remarkable tape to prove my theory.
Many Americans have long suspected that Vice President Dick Cheney is an android. What they may not know is that - before being Stepfordized into a neoconservative drone - he was capable of non-ideological thought that would allow him to choose a peace option over war, able to use human reason to figure out why invading Iraq would inevitably lead to “quagmire.” This short video clip offers compelling evidence.
Today, Mitt Romney is such a robotically rabid spouter of social-conservative dogma that he’s won the praise of radio rightists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Offered as evidence of his Stepfordization is this video revealing a once human and tolerant Romney who seemed to care deeply about women’s rights and abortion rights, and resisted any connection to the policies of Reagan-Bush. It was this pre-abduction Romney who boasted that he would do more for gay equality than Ted Kennedy.
John McCain was also horrifically rewired toward servile courtship of the Religious Right. Dramatic evidence of McCain’s Stepfordization is caught on video: “Before” footage shows you a strong human speaking bravely against right-wing “agents of intolerance” like Jerry Falwell; “after” footage reveals a lifeless, docile tool of those same forces...
But once they give you the seekrit handshake and the majik Ring of Power in your Wheaties you have to be made of stern enough stuff to use it for Sauron and Morgoth. What happens if you just want to sit on top of yours and not join in the general raping and pillaging? Naomi Klein points out:
...Today, the basic promises of the ownership society have been broken. First the dot-com bubble burst; then employees watched their stock-heavy pensions melt away with Enron and WorldCom. Now we have the subprime mortgage crisis, with more than 2 million homeowners facing foreclosure on their homes. Many are raiding their 401(k)s–their piece of the stock market–to pay their mortgage. Wall Street, meanwhile, has fallen out of love with Main Street. To avoid regulatory scrutiny, the new trend is away from publicly traded stocks and toward private equity. In November Nasdaq joined forces with several private banks, including Goldman Sachs, to form Portal Alliance, a private equity stock market open only to investors with assets upward of $100 million. In short order yesterday’s ownership society has morphed into today’s members-only society.
The mass eviction from the ownership society has profound political implications. According to a September Pew Research poll, 48 percent of Americans say they live in a society carved into haves and have-nots–nearly twice the number of 1988. Only 45 percent see themselves as part of the haves. In other words, we are seeing a return of the very class consciousness that the ownership society was supposed to erase. The free-market ideologues have lost an extremely potent psychological tool–and progressives have gained one. Now that John Edwards is out of the presidential race, the question is, will anyone dare to use it?
That's anybody's guess, Naomi. But I suspect the Bilbama preznitcy will seek to use their Ring of Power if they get it, and not toss it into Mount Doom as prudence would suggest. After all, it's so precious.