‘New’ GOP image nothing more than a facade for old politics

By Tyler Vincent

So much for unity and partisanship.

Almost immediately after the hailstorm that was the Florida recount, which, for better or worse, was put to an end by the Supreme Court, President Bush promised the nation that he would unite the country and be a “healer” to a nation that has been left bitterly divided in the wake of his predecessor.

Like many of the promises that are spewed from men in high places, we can conclude that this one is broken. The break comes in the form of intensely conservative former Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft, who is Bush’s nominee for attorney general.

The Ashcroft nomination is another in a long list of incidents where Republicans shoot themselves in the foot in regards to public perceptions of the party. Throughout the election, Republican brass and their loyalists on right-wing talk radio have attempted to knock down the traditional stereotypes in regards to their party. The traditional thought being that their party cares little, if any, about civil rights, and worse, welcome factions with neo-racist tendencies.

The Republicans attempted to use the 2000 campaign to re-invent their image as an all-inclusive entity, and not the party of white, middle-class Protestants.

Bush himself said during the campaign that he realized the Republicans have been ignoring the African-American voting sect. He preached the brand-spanking new theology of “compassionate conservatism,” which is kind of funny coming from a governor that sent so many criminals to their death in his state. Jerry Falwell, of all people, attempted to reconcile his portion of the evangelical right with the gay community.

In addition, they warned minorities not to fall for the “scare tactics” of the Democratic rhetoric.

The dawning of a new age in Republican politics? Nope, it was just a house of cards. Ashcroft proves it.

Ashcroft’s politics are so far to the right that some Republicans believe he goes too far. He morally argued against tobacco regulation. He endorsed a Missouri anti-partial birth abortion bill that condoned violent tactics against practitioners of abortion. He refused to endorse a Missouri bill that forced racial integration in St. Louis. He gave an interview to The Southern Partisan, a neo-confederate magazine, that has repeatedly referred to Abraham Lincoln as a “tyrant,” and has drawn the conclusion that society has taken a turn for the worse since the fall of the pro-slavery confederacy.

Scare tactics? Why should Democrats engage in scare tactics when Ashcroft’s interview combined with such incidents as Rep. Bob Barr and Sen. Trent Lott’s dealings with the pro-segregationist Conservative Citizen’s Council can do more to scare the African-American voter than any amount of rhetoric that the Democrats can produce.

Facts like these should serve as pure indicators of what exactly “compassionate conservatism” is. It is a talking point, a gimmick unleashed by the GOP on a media that is more concerned with snappiness and sharp sound bytes than the actual news (as the election night debacle in Florida indicated).

There are no major differences between the “compassionate conservative” school of thought and the old and seemingly hostile conservatism. “Compassionate conservatism” contains the same people, spewing the same thoughts as conservatives of Christmas past. Including Ashcroft.

He is the final wind that knocks down the house of cards that was the new Republican philosophy. He proves that the Republican hierarchy is still neck-deep in its absolutism. They still won’t pay much attention to civil rights. They still are owned lock, stock and barrel by Christian extremists such as James Dobson and the Christian coalition. They still think they’re right. Extremely right.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.