Paul Potyen: Here's a riddle


— What's the difference between a zealot and a ball-buster? Answer: A ball-buster is a zealot who wears lipstick.

The above riddle is an example of a graphic use of stereotypes. The Republican Party has been appropriated by experts in such metaphors, cultural narratives, and stereotypes. That's how it wins elections. It's not about facts. If you don't believe me, read the rest of this column. Then tomorrow, if you ask yourself, "What do I remember about this column?" you likely will come up with this riddle first.

The group of experts responsible for the election of our current White House occupant also is completely in charge of the McCain campaign. And they're very good at telling stories about values, communication, (apparent) authenticity, trust and identity - and they're not interested in talking in terms of issues and policies. They know that creating and sustaining misleading stereotypes is what really matters. "Tax-and-spend liberals," "left-wing media," "trickle-down economics," "family values," "you're either with us or you're against us," "the hoax of global warming." Do these slogans sound familiar? This is how the neo-con experts get us to vote against our own interests.

For example, "tax-and-spend liberals" left the White House in 2000 with a legacy of a vibrant economy, a budget surplus, and general international spirit of goodwill. In the last eight years, the economy has deteriorated, we have an unprecedented budget deficit of more than $400 billion, and a significant erosion of goodwill around the world. This reality is not accurately reflected in the above slogan.

And here's what's really bizarre: As Bush's approval rating continues to hover slightly below 30 percent, polls indicate that the public is evenly divided between the Obama/Biden ticket and the McCain/Palin ticket. The fact remains that Bush is a mouthpiece for Karl Rove and his fellow extremists - the same extremists who have hired the McCain ticket to tell their stories.

This is the lesson of marketing products in the 21st century. And, yes, folks, we Americans sure know how to buy products. It's too bad we're not so good at electing politicians who reflect our real values and beliefs - those values and beliefs we want to instill in our children

How do conservatives and progressives differ in terms of family values? Progressives value the family that nurtures and supports its members. It's a microcosm of what the framers of our constitution described as a participatory democracy. Each member is valued and has responsibilities to perform for the mutual benefit of all the members. Mutual trust is encouraged, and families look to their communities for support and friendship. A spirit of openness and abundance is in evidence. There is the assumption of innocence until one is proven guilty - an idea that has a precedent in our constitution.

Conservatives believe that a strong, authoritative father figure is necessary to protect us from the enemy. The neo-con experts know this, and they supply an abundance of enemies for us to fear: terrorists, welfare mothers, tax-and-spend liberals, atheists and many more.

The experts know how to divide and conquer. It's a strategy that's been successfully used before, one example being Nazi Germany. There is a subtle difference though; it's easier to identify someone who doesn't have blond hair and blue eyes than it is to identify a welfare mom. (That's not to say that there aren't those among us who attempt to identify terrorists by their physical makeup.) The net effect of the creation of an invisible enemy is that we are encouraged to be suspicious of others. It's a case of "guilty until proven innocent." Vigilance is the key watchword. The conservative "experts" know this too, and they use it to create invisible enemies - the "others" who are a threat to our way of life.

In this game, competence is not an issue. There are undoubtedly thousands of citizens more qualified to be the Republican choice for vice president than Sarah Palin. It's about the power of stereotypes and who can most effectively deliver the messages to the American consumer. Palin's job is to speak the language of conservatism, activate the conservative view of the world, and use the advantages that conservatives have in dominating political discourse.

So, as you consider your vision of the future of this country, I ask you to watch, listen and read with special attention to these "stories" you are hearing. And then ask yourself, "What kind of world do I want to leave for my kids or grandkids?"

And if you are a traditional Republican or an independent, you might want to consider voting Democratic this election if you want to send a message that the current Republican Party no longer represents your values.

Paul Potyen lives in Steamboat Springs. He is a messenger. Don't shoot him.


shoe_Z_Q 8 years, 6 months ago

I can see from many comments, news programs, etc. Sarah Palin has the liberals scared to death. As I see it everyone is worried about taxes. So am I. But I also think that a flat purcase tax would be the way to go. Get rid of the IRS. Then when the rich buy the yachts, multi-million $ homes, super vacations they pay the same percent ratio as the guy that buys a Chevy truck for his farm. Then the other plus is that the drug dealers, pimps, and call girls are paying their share when they buy cars, boats, clothes etc. See no more tax problems I just solved it all.


Don Thayer 8 years, 6 months ago

Everything in this statement appears to be simple opinion with no basis on fact. Republicans are horrible, mean, hateful ogres while Democrats are kind, sweet, caring heroes who want to save us from the evil Bush/McCain. It's silly and childish.

Rational adults know there are kind, caring people on both sides and we've all seen dishonest smear campaigns and misleading stereotypes from both. Our politicians say what it takes to gain power.

If you take a serious look at statements in the media, I think you'll see that President Bush has shown leadership while the Democrats have spread divisiveness and hatred(divide and conquer) for the last 5 years(beginning of the Iraq war?).


Matthew Stoddard 8 years, 6 months ago

I'm worried about taxes, too. But I'm also worried about where the money to pay for everything is going to come from. We currently are closing in on $10 trillion in National Debt.

Check this for the "Tax and Spend" vs. the "Spend with no way to Pay"

And people wonder why Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae needed bailing out? It's because my party is the party of Drunken Spending. This is what people emulate in the their private lives: spend now and hope money comes in to pay for it. Well, the money did come with W Bush in office. It just went...elsewhere.

My wife and I pay off our credit card bills in full each month. Why can't my government try to do the same?

Look at the second graph. The GNP % grew more under Clinton than under W Bush. Both under a majority Republican-held Congress.


JLM 8 years, 6 months ago

One of the candidates running for President is the MOST LIBERAL MEMBER of Congress (joined by the 3rd most liberal member of Congress) who has consistently voted to increase taxes (94 times) and who has promised a huge array of new social programs and tax cuts to be funded by "...closing corporate loopholes and eliminating wasteful government progams."

For the record, he has been unable to articulate exactly which corporate loopholes and which wasteful government programs are in the crosshairs and he unable to explain why he hasn't gone after them already!

Every new program promised (including the tax cuts) was promised by the last Democrat President and he delivered on none of them and, in fact, raised taxes. Remember Hillaycare?

The issus today is one of fundamental credibility.

Campaign promises --- and that's all we are talking about here, folks --- must be tested by the probability of them coming true given the record of the promiser. In this case, the answer is NOT BLOODY LIKELY!

On the other hand, the Republicans promised tax cuts and delivered on them while safeguarding the country for 7 years since 9-11. They have however governed like drunken sailors financially.

Make an assessment of whose credibility is better and make your choice. For me, I go with the team which can field dress a moose!

Believe in the tooth fairy before you believe in a candidate with 143 days of service in the US Senate promising huge programs to be funded by eliminating corporate tax loopholes and wasteful government spending. And, who cannot field dress a moose!


Fred Duckels 8 years, 6 months ago

The Democratic party backers all seem to be uniting to gain through legislation what they are unwilling to compete for in the market place. Unions have overall lost a lot of ground in the last fifty years. They mostly were unable to compete but have found their niche with governmental employees. This eliminates the competition problem. Here in Colorado our Democrat governor has given the unions their shot at organizing state workers. This includes teachers that shy away from any competition. The trial lawyers look to legislation for favorable laws that will enable them to go after business and their insurance companies. A nice class action lawsuit will net millions for them and the plaintiffs will net $2.31 each to go toward the purchase of a new car. I an always trying to find the truth on global warming, but I have noticed the awareness seems to be less now that the election campaign is in full swing. Environmentalists mean well but as is common with liberal logic they don't often think the probalem through. Example, kill the nuclear power industry and then decry the lack of alternative fuels. A liberal author recently said that in the election Republicans play chess and the Democrats are playing checkers.l


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