|Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Bowling |
Green, Ohio, 07/18/12. (photo: Evan Vucci/AP)
21 July 12
Republicans have questioned the patriotism of Democrats for nearly a hundred years. But now, at long last, Barack Obama is turning the tables on the GOP.
The Republican credo that theirs is the party of patriotism goes back a long, long way, at least to the 1920s. The Democrats then as now represented society's so-called rabble - immigrants, wets, cosmopolites of that gin-soaked decade when the urban population for the first time overtook the rural. Over time, Democrats added blacks, new immigrants, liberated women, gays. The Democrats have been the party of the Other. Impugning their patriotism to the target audience is so easy it can hardly even be called work. In doing so, of course, Republicans tied the concept strongly to their, um, values: the all-conquering free market, mostly; a good war now and then; the occasional (actually, more or less constant, now that I think about it) campaign against subversives real and imagined (the vast majority). Thus have things ever been.
You will find, as you scan our modern electoral history, say since 1968, that the Republican candidate has laid some Americanism-related charge at the Democrat nearly every time, but that the reverse has never occurred. Richard Nixon sent Spiro Agnew out to accuse Hubert Humphrey of being soft on communism and compare him to Neville Chamberlain, even while Nixon was committing treason by submarining the Paris peace talks. Democrats can't, and don't, peddle this merchandise, because it's pointless: they know it won't stick to the party that has owned the issue for decades.