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I came across this very well written and poignant account of Mr. Jeremiah Goulka's decision to leave the GOP, published last week on Salon. In a way, it's a nice parallel to my diary last night about the GOP's "22%" problem. I think there are a number of useful things to take away from this article. I didn't see a recent Daily Kos post on this, so read on if you're interested.

The crux of the article is held in these sentences:  

Everyone begins life thinking that his or her normal is the normal.  For the first time, I found myself paying attention to broken eggs rather than making omelets.  Up until then, I hadn'€™t really seen most Americans as living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hoping, loving, dreaming, hurting people.  My values shifted - from an individualistic celebration of success (that involved dividing the world into the morally deserving and the undeserving) to an interest in people as people.
But please, read the rest of the article as I think it's great. I won't summarize the rest here, but rather use it as a jumping-off point for where I think it can take us.

I think there's a huge opportunity to use Mitt Romney's failure as a candidate and a campaign to help shift some minds. Mitt Romney is a prime example of the "before" in this article, when the author believed "that people had morally earned their 'just' desserts, and I had to ignore those whining liberals who tried to point out that the world didn’t actually work that way". He's labelled half the country as those who've earned their just deserts. And he's writing them off.

So where are those people? If we go with the numbers in 2008 from the conservative Tax Foundation, that's mostly the South.

Income Tax Non-payers
Tax Foundation's Map of Income Tax Non-payers, 2008
Now who are those people? We know that some are unemployed or underemployed, and others are students and retirees. I'm no expert on the tax code, but Squashed has done a great run down of the numbers for an average family of 4 (two adults, one earner, two pre-college kids, no one else providing childcare) and finds the obvious truth about Romney's math. When it comes to the average family trying to make ends meet that fall into his shunned 47%:
So to hit zero exactly you would need a few more dollars to bring your annual income to $45,750.

In a given year, you have about 260 work days. Let’s say you work a full day on all of them. This means that any vacation, sick days, or holidays you want had better be paid. To make your $45,750, you need to bring in $174.62 a day. Let’s round that down to $174 to make the math work out more smoothly.

You’re earning the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. To get to $174 a day, you’ll need to work for … 24 hours. Congratulations. You can sleep on the weekends. If you want to get down to an 8 hour day, you’ll need to earn at least $21.75. (You still have to work every day.) Good luck finding an early-career job that pays that well.

And this brings us back to the article, and my point yesterday about the somewhat-hypothetical floor in GOP support at around 22%. Goulka points out: "We see different realities, different worlds.  If you and I take in different slices of reality, chances are that we aren’t talking about the same things.  I think this explains much of modern American political dialogue. My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality." What's the best way to use Mitt Romney to help the majority of GOP supporters realize that their own political party doesn't really like them? What's the best way for them to finally see more of reality?

I'm not sure, and that's where I hope the great community here at DKos comes in. I'm skilled in a variety of digital arts, including printmaking, web design, and photo- and video-editing. Should we be making short viral videos? Internet ads? Hand-outs for people canvassing? Talking with our friends and neighbors, in real life and in social media? Work with groups like OFA, DFA, ActBlue, etc. to come up with something bigger? I really feel we have a chance here in the next 2 months to use Romney as a prime example of how things shouldn't be, and to wake up some of the GOP voters who consistently are going against their own interests.

So let's get started!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Anyone... (13+ / 0-)

    That can have a "what if the shoe is on the other foot" moment will have trouble continuing as a Republican.

    GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

    by Attorney at Arms on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 04:18:28 PM PDT

  •  the GOP of today is not the GOP of the past (5+ / 0-)

    They have allowed themselves to be hijacked by their lunatic fringe.  I would say for any moderate who has voted the GOP ticket at any point in their past, they have not left the party; their party has left them

  •  its a great account by someone willing to (3+ / 0-)

    open their eyes, get outside their comfort zone and address their experience honestly.

    so much of what passes for conservatism today is about living in a comfortable bubble of denial.

    This is bigger than me. Its bigger than polka even. So I guess I'll help. - the tao of Butters

    by bnasley on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 04:51:10 PM PDT

    •  So what's the best way to burst the bubble? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bnasley, Killer of Sacred Cows

      Put out long lists of bullet-pointed facts won't do it. And it's so easy to dismiss anything from an opposing point of view as "liberal lies" regardless of if it's coming from something like the conservative Tax Foundation used above.

      I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'd love to work to find out.

      •  Mr. Goulka was in New Orleans post-Katrina (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows

        and that was a big eye opener for him; the beginning.

        Bullet points and such won't do it.  republicans/conservatives have to actually see the reality of what people have to live through.  unfortunately they're very good at insulating themselves.

        I have a whole family a right-wingers and they just flat out don't want to hear anything that doesn't conform to their world-view.  facts are just pests Obama lovers use.

        This is bigger than me. Its bigger than polka even. So I guess I'll help. - the tao of Butters

        by bnasley on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 06:29:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  His privilege took a beating (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bnasley

          I found it interesting, though, that what opened his eyes in New Orleans wasn't any of the Katrina damage and destruction. It was the profound discovery that - wait for it - poor families don't know how to go to sit-down restaurants..

          To him, going to a sit-down restaurant and knowing how to order from a menu and calculate a tip was so basic, so fundamental, so "normal," that this discovery was a terrible shock. It shocked him into realizing that his "normal" was not, by any standard, everyone else's "normal," especially when he got home that night:

          That night, I told my roommates about the crazy thing I had heard that day.  Apparently there were people out there who had never been to something as basic as a real restaurant.  Who knew?

          His privilege was reeling. That realization had given it a flurry of uppercuts and right hooks that it couldn't block or shake off.

          And it took a body-blow when his bank-worker buddy said "Yeah, I know that. They come into the bank all the time to open bank accounts but they only have one form of ID, or no ID. It's common."

          Read what he says about that:

          There are adults who have no ID?  And no bank accounts?  Who are these people?  How do they vote?  How do they live?  Is there an entire off-the-grid alternate universe out there?
          That's what really jump-started his journey out of the GOP. Nothing major, no statistical analyses devoid of human contact, but the stunning realization that there really were people out there, lots and lots of people out there, who did not have IDs or bank accounts and had never been to a sit-down restaurant. With it came the realization that what he thought was "normal" was actually quite unusual, and that most people were not in his situation.

          His privilege took a huge beating that day. Fortunately, instead of trying to nurse it back to health, he began to realize just how badly misled he'd been by it, and began to pay attention to the real world. And he admitted it hurt - of course it did! - but he stuck it out. That, to me, is what makes this conversion so praiseworthy. He stuck it out.

          We often think, as liberals, that pointing out facts and statistics and the other measures of reality we hod so dear will convince people that we're telling the truth about what's going on out there. But that's often not how it works. Sometimes - most times - the smallest things can be what get through the chinks in the GOP worldview's armor. And like little grains of sharp sand, they irritate and annoy in ways that can't be readily shaken off (have YOU ever tried to get all the sand out of your shoes after going to the beach, say?).

          I applaud him for sticking it out.

          Science can tell you how to clone a dinosaur. Humanities explains why this is a bad idea.

          by Killer of Sacred Cows on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:27:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  As a former Republican... (2+ / 0-)

    ...myself I found Mr. Goulka's story compelling.  As a former Republican currently at war with my still Republican immediate family it gives me some hope.

    Thanks for providing the link; I hope to put Mr. Goulka's story to good use myself.

    •  Glad to help! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Killer of Sacred Cows

      It's so tough if the people you're trying to find common ground with are living in that "rosy sliver of reality." Have you found anything that's worked with them so far?

      •  Not Yet (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Killer of Sacred Cows

        And presently things aren't trending in a positive direction: I haven't spoken to my sister in two years (issues other than politics going on there; my nephew lives with us not her and another nephew has just moved out of her house); I haven't spoken to my brother in a year; I had a major falling out with my parents a few weeks ago when I tried to bring some of these issues to their attention; I am not sure if/when I will be speaking to them again...

        In my discussion with my parents I told them I was very conflicted about being around them because I want to have my memories of them to be of the moderate, reasonable, environmentally active Republicans they once were, not the hateful ignorant Tea Partiers they have devolved into.  I am not at all sure how this is going to turn out but I am not going to attenuate who I am to be around them.

  •  I hoped 3rd time was the charm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Killer of Sacred Cows

    This is the third time Goulka's very good article has been recommended.  I posted on Sept 9 and got only 5 comments.  Then it was posted on one of the night owl things (I think) ...

    But it really is a good article about how we come out of our preconceived worlds ... as I read it I kept hearing the song "You've Got to be Carefully Taught" because that was what happened to him.  He had no idea that there was a separate world, a reality based world. The turning point for him, the idea that there were adults in this world who had never been to a sit down restuarant, was so simple and yet so mind boggling. It made him realize that when he thought of lifting yourself up by your boot straps it was going from the JV to the varisty team.  For others it was going from T-ball to the World Series.

    It made me think of the things I assume that everyone knows, when in fact they might not know. I am working on not dismissing people just becasue they don't understand ... some really, truly do not understand and need some help along the way to enter a reality based world.Then, of course, there are all those people that cheered and laughed with Romney on that horrible, no good, very bad tape.

    Glad you found the article.  I saw it on TomDispatch.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Tue Sep 18, 2012 at 08:24:57 PM PDT

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