Karl Rove's Frankensteins

The latest installment of the GOP civil war, sparked by President Obama's resounding re-election, involves a battle between two of our most beloved right wing figures: Karl Rove and The Donald. Backing up the birther crowd that refers to itself as the Tea Party, Donald Trump took umbrage at Rove's new Super PAC aimed at defeating the super-crazies in Republican primaries, calling Rove a "total loser."

It is true that Karl Rove is a consummate political strategist. He does not care one iota about what his candidates believe. He only cares about one thing: winning. Right now, even he can read the writing on the wall. Even he can see that demography is destiny. Even Rove can see that the American electorate is fast growing more diverse, less tolerant of prejudices, and more embracing of social responsibility. Not that Karl Rove believes in diversity, tolerance or social responsibility, but even he can see that Republicans can no longer win national races with rhetoric about how women ought to be forced to carry rape-pregnancies to term.

Karl Rove wants to win, and he wants to raise money to keep the crazy-sounding GOP candidates from winning primaries. But how did these crazies suddenly start taking over what used to be Rove's party? Who brought them along for the dance? Why, Karl Rove did, of course. It has taken a president with exceptional political acumen and the elections of 2008 and 2012 to teach Karl Rove that the crazies won't do anymore. But Rove harnessed, activated, and got out to vote the crazy crowd when it benefited him. Rove's proudest political achievement, the 2004 election victory of George W. Bush, was earned largely on the back of state ballot initiatives to deny same sex couples legal equality.

In the process of orchastrating the Republican victories of the early 2000s, Karl Rove's strategy actively and intentionally appealed to narrow minded right wingers' fears, prejudices, and ubernationalism. Rove may not like today that conspiracy theorists questioning the citizenship of a black president are now costing the Republicans seats in the Senate, but when his party eviscerated the honorable record of a man who left two legs on the battlefield for our country, Max Cleland and morphed his face into Osama bin Laden's, he wasn't so horrified. When his party's convention mocked the war record of another war hero, John Kerry, by wearing purple band-aids in order to elect the candidate of his choice, Rove was content.

When loud, extreme right wing protesters were hell bent to try to stop President Obama's health care reform, Karl Rove was happy to lend the reactionaries and the health insurance industry his playbook in the process of astroturfing. When the Tea Party anger mixed with radical Leftist pouty discontent made for a Republican tidal wave election in 2010 - from which our country is still recovering - Karl Rove played a key role in ramping up the crazy vote, supporting candidates like Sharron Angle (you know, Second Amendment remedies?) and Rand Paul.

Karl Rove wasn't even the beginning of handing the inmates the reins of the asylum. Lee Atwater, Rove's guru and Reagan's confidant, took us through incendiary phrases like "welfare queen", the Willy Horton ad, and more. Karl Rove is merely a continuation of the GOP's southern strategy - a strategy of winning elections by appealing to the prejudices of old, southern, white men who are afraid of losing their country - mostly compositionally. But it was with Karl Rove that Republicans began to dream about a permanent federal majority, based on the same strategy of appealing to old, southern, Christian white men.

The dirty little secret that Karl Rove and his fellow Republican strategists won't tell you is that their 2012 strategy worked exactly as planned. On the people they planned. Mitt Romney got more than 60% of the white vote - which in fact was the Republican strategy. What they were shocked to find out was that in 2012, 60%+ of the white vote could not deliver the White House to their candidate.

And so now, suddenly, they scurry about to try to fix the message. After fueling the fire of hatred, prejudice and fear for the better part of his carrier, Karl Rove wants to hide it from the public view. After actively creating the Frankenstein that is now the Republican base, after giddily supporting it, now Karl Rove has a problem: he is not the only one that can see the Frankenstein anymore. Dog whistles of racism, homophobia and misogyny have become blowhorns. The Frankenstein that is the most proud creation of Karl Rove's is now threatening the goal for which he created the Frankenstein - to win elections.

But the Frankenstein is now out of Rove's labs. It's got a mind of its own. It - the Republican base - is no longer content just to elect Republicans. They want to be represented by firebrand reactionaries, not simply conservative Republicans. It believes - loudly and proudly - what the likes of Steve King, Todd Aiken, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh say. It's the Frankenstein's party now. Karl Rove might be too late if he thinks he can simply hide the Frankenstein from the view of the American general election electorate. The Frankensteins he created do not want to be hidden. They are, after all, Karl Rove's Frankensteins.

This isn't a civil war. It's a divorce.

The Republican party is having the wrong civil war. The battle they need to be having isn't about what their candidates say, but what their party believes. If you, as a party, believe that doctors and women should be jailed for abortions, you can't honestly blame your voters for wanting to nominate who is true to that stand. If your party platform is about supporting racist state laws asking for papers from anyone who "looks" illegal, you can't blame your voters for believing in that platform. If your party, in its national convention, takes the stand that religion should be forced by the government, that science is irrelevant and discrimination against gay people should be written into the Constitution of the United States, it isn't your voters' fault for trying to enforce it.

If the Republican party is unwilling to abandon its policies of prejudice and supply side economics, even Karl Rove won't be able to hide Karl Rove's Frankensteins.