St. Jerome, in his busier days, once wrote that pretty much nihil was novus under the solis, and that observation is pretty true in politics. Know all those stupid tropes that Democrats keep throwing out about their Republican rivals? You might be surprised that most of them go back a ways. In fact, most go back way longer than you.
Republicans, as you have heard, want to go back to the failed policies of the past. This was a big part of Wilson’s 1912 campaign speech—even adding the Constitution is a living document that needs to change with the times.
Republicans, as you have heard, are in an evil collaboration with big business. In fact, they care more about Wall Street than Main Street. Interestingly, but perhaps not too surprisingly, they have been so ever since FDR’s 1932 campaign. Anti-capitalist slogans among Democrats go back to the rise of Marxism, of course, but were never mainstreamed until the early 1930s.
Republicans, as you have heard, are racist bastards who like the keep the black man down, even though they were formed as an anti-slavery party, opposed Jim Crow laws, battled the Klan throughout its history, ran and elected legitimate black candidates long before Democrats did, and pushed for Civil Rights. But as we all know, Democrats recognized they had lost the issue in the mid-1960s when they saw themselves losing the South—the birthplace of the party—to the GOP. Realizing this would possibly let the GOP have the presidency for decades,* the meme began that Nixon was a racist, and that black Americans needed to vote for LBJ. This flip-flop was a massive undertaking, given the shame that Democrats would otherwise need to admit to.
Republicans, as you have heard, have declared a war on women. That phrase actually goes back to the 1980s, if you can recall back that far. While many of us might think it applies to the Mitt Romney campaign of 2012, it was a tip-of-the-tongue trope among Democrats by the early 1990s. Anyone remember the ironic candidate the Democrats ran in 1992? Anyway, like racism, this is another flip-flop-by-guilt position since Democrats overwhelmingly opposed giving women the right to vote in 1915. The GOP supported it from the get-go, with Democrats conceding in 1919 but refusing to support the Equal Rights Amendment— which, yes, the GOP supported from early on. That, by the way, had everything to do with the unions. So the Republican War on Women really goes back to union influence peddling over 100 years ago.**
Republicans, as you have heard, care only about the one-percenters. This, too, goes back to FDR’s announcement that two-thirds of American industries are in the hands of five individuals.
Republicans, as you have heard, oppose campaign contribution reforms. There need to be limits to how much individuals, particularly rich individuals, can contribute to a campaign, otherwise the Presidency can be bought. This can be found, in very contemporary language, in Wilson’s 1916 campaign speeches.
Republicans, as you have heard, are opposed to an open and transparent government. This too hearkens back to FDR’s 1932 campaign.
Republicans, as you have heard, hate immigrants—even though this position would contradict many of the other tropes about Republicans. The GOP hates immigrants? Actually, this was first used in the 1850s as a way of poisoning the anti-slavery folks who left the Know Nothings to help coalesce into the Republican party. You don’t want to vote for that
former Know Nothing Republican: he hates immigrants.***
Yes, we can go on and on, but we do not need to do so. The next time you hear an annoying cliché from a Democrat politician that you know is not the case, the odds are good that it is a really old one, recycled from campaign after campaign. Why? Because the Democrats win elections, and therefore they assume these tropes work. Like a baseball pitcher who kisses his mit and taps his toe before throwing a fastball, the Democrats stick to whatever they think works for them.
Yes, Republican politicians do it, too—just not as well. The problem though is that when Republicans throw out the same old charges against their Democrat opponents, it often is based on truth. Or, perhaps just as importantly, polls suggest the public believes them to be true.
* The “Southern problem” was recognized by Democrats in the late 1940s; Truman himself saw the need to win the votes of the people he routinely referred to as N-words, even though it badly fractured the Democrats through the 1950s, as they divided up in over and covert racist bastards.
** The women problem was eventually recognized by the Democrats in the 1970s as compatible with progressive ideology regarding abortion and Feminism. As Feminists tended to be liberal and active in politics, the Democrats quickly moved to include them as a voting block given they rarely voted for Republicans. Interestingly, the acceptance of abortion as a party plank means that Roman Catholics are in contempt of the Church by voting for Democrats. This is a problem the Democrats have never actually been able to solve within their ranks.
*** The immigrant problem was recognized in the 1850s, all right, but the Democrats are clearly recognizing the voting potential of Mexican Americans as a reliable source of Democratic votes. The jury is still out on whether Mexican Americans will remain the traditional Hispanic abhorrence of abortion.**
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.