The current political situation in the U.S. is perfect for playing a game I like to call “Where’s Ruprecht?” 1 TM Ruprecht is the guy with the cork on his fork and this “useful idiot” can be found all over the political map.
Let me describe the definition of “useful idiot” and put it in historical context. Apparently, Lenin coined the term when talking about capitalist dupes who ”will sell us the rope with which to hang them”, i.e., dupes that, in order to make a profit, continued to deal with the Soviet Union and in the end harmed their own country and aided their enemies by supplying them with what they needed to compete with us. Evidently the literal translation from Russian is actually “utter simpleton” but Americans got the gist of it and believed that “useful idiot” was the better translation. How sadly correct we were and still are.
Later this term was used by conservatives to refer to liberals that would not acknowledge that the Soviet Union was a brutal, police state and continued to advocate normalizing relations with the USSR. I’m sure there were people who genuinely believed, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that the USSR was not a threat to us. And there were businessmen who cared little for the politics and more for the profit to be had. Both types shot themselves in the foot and could be called “useful idiots”. It has also been used to describe the relationship of African Americans as a voting bloc within the Democratic party by BOTH conservatives and extremists on the left.
And although it can refer to any duped group of persons that prop up another group and doing so isn’t in their on best interests, the term still seems to be mostly applied to liberals in the U.S. It’s part and parcel of the entire image that conservatives have been hammering into the American subconscious for the last 40 years. We see it every day being used against Pres. Obama. He is supposedly weak on defense and a non-fighter in domestic politics. He is supposedly elite because he is intelligent and educated. He is supposedly naive or disingenuous….etc, etc, etc….
To see how this is being hammered into the public discourse and how these labels stick so well, do a search for +liberals and +”useful idiots” and you’ll get over 1.4 million hits, most of them conservatives sites applying the term to liberals. Then do a search for +conservatives +”useful idiots” and you’ll get over 1.3 million hits, mostly of the same links as the previous search. The level of vitriol in the conservative blogosphere and the media that they control and put out there out advertises, out shouts, out funds and generally out does the application of stigmatizing label attacks on the left–they are geniuses sociological manipulation and Americans are buying into it.
The GOP has perfected the name calling business to such a degree that too many liberals have been afraid to proclaim themselves as such, hence the usage of “progressive” by many liberals today. I don’t consider many so-called progressives to be the same as those of the Teddy Roosevelt era kind, but that’s another post best left for another day. The refusal by several generations of liberals to even use the word in advocating their positions, in declaring their political philosophy or even using it in conversation in general added to the MSM’s aversion to the accusation of “liberal bias” is proof enough of the efficacy of labeling.
But back to these so called “progressives”….I would actually label them as Ruprechts. Liberals not buying into their self-sabotage generally label them as “Firebaggers”2. Who are the other Ruprechts? The Tea Party, and, of course, the wonderfully absurd and ever entertaining Herman “I can’t get enough of the ladies” Cain.
Since I love lists, here’s one of what all Ruprechts have in common.
1. Denial of proven factual reality – The Tea Party denies long established scientific principles such as Evolution and even go so far as to eschew the scientific method for “belief” or “faith” based knowledge. For example, this extreme wing of the GOP wants to put Creationism on the educational curriculum in, wait for it……..science classes…. The Firebagger’s deny the very real but separate and equal branches of the federal government. For example, when President Obama wanted to shut down Guantanomo he had to request funding for it from Congress, because that’s their job–to assign the money–and they said no. The Firebagger’s blamed the President for the subsequent failure to close Guantanamo. Herman Cain…..well, his attempt to get the GOP nomination in 2012 is pretty much dead, but will he admit it? Hell no! Conclusion: All of these Ruprecht’s can’t even see the facts much less make logical deductions from said facts.
2. Acting against their own long term best interests - The Tea Party votes for tax breaks for the very wealthy, when very few of them actually are the very wealthy. Not only that, they believe despite all evidence to the contrary that “trickle down” economics work. And to top it off they demand the taxes continue to be cut and government shrunk but don’t you dare touch their Medicare. Mind-boggling, I know. Firebaggers have been making noises about putting someone up against Pres. Obama in the primaries in spite of the fact that it has proven to be an phenomenally impractical and just plain bad idea virtually ensuring disaffectation and further infighting on the left for years to come at the precise moment when they need to unite to defeat the GOP. Furthermore if any of the clowns from the right should get elected as President (literally any one of them including Romney) much of the hard fought progress made by Pres. Obama will be obliterated and we’ll be back in the “lost Bush years”. No one truly on the left should EVER want that! And speaking of clowns, good ole Herman should never have thrown his hat into the ring in the first place….but his megalomania wouldn’t let him hold back. Now the skeletons and peccadilloes discovered as a result will follow him around forever and if not affect his business career, definitely will affect his personal relationships. Conclusion: Ruprechts would be better off not playing the role but they just can’t help themselves–for why that is the case, next item.
3. Aiding the enemy – Some might argue that The Tea Party has actually aided the right, and they certainly have rallied the base enfusing it with renewed fervor. But the truth is they’ve done a great job to disaffect anyone on the left and a lot of people in the middle because of their extreme views interlaced with the ugliest and shameful parts of the American psyche3. In the end they will help us re-elect Pres. Obama and I personally hope their extremism continues for a good long while. The same could be said Cain…let the circus atmosphere continue…it only makes the Democrats look better and better to the Independent voter. On the left the Firebaggers are playing directly into the hands of conservatives and in some cases have actually collaborated with members of the GOP to oppose Pres. Obama on a number of issues. If they try to primary the President or offer up a third candidate, they would likely siphon off votes similar to what happened in 2000 with Nader, partially causing the loss of the election and President Shrub’s 8 year long debacle. As to why they do this? Well some of the GOP/Tea Party are cons, playing a game and others are true believers…either way the result is the same. Cain is simply a megalomaniac and with regards to the Firebaggers I am not entirely sure. I believe that some are true believers in their cause (such as Glen Greenwald) and others are simply trying to make a buck (such as Jane Hamsher)….their increasing appearance on MSM outlets hand-in-hand with scum like Erick Erickson, Pat Buchanan, Andrew Breitbart, etc, doesn’t lend credence to their declarations of ideological purity. Conclusion: Ruprehts might actually be in on the con or they may actually be idiots, either way the result is the same…they end up getting conned along with the rest of us.
Now you know how to spot a Ruprecht. Go out there and find some more!
1. If you don’t know who Ruprecht is you MUST watch the movie “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” and if you can’t be bothered, you must at least watch this scene http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqMc9B7uDV8. Two con men take turns bilking lonely rich women out of their fortunes. The con men take turns playing the suave debonair seducer and the idiot with the cork on his fork, aka, Ruprecht. Ruprecht is the useful idiot and in the movie the con man character played by Steve Martin realizes that he is also a useful idiot in other ways as well because, well, that’s the nature of a con…sometimes the conner can become the duped.
2. For the uninitiated, Firebaggers tend to call themselves liberal and progressives, and represent an extreme view on the left that condemns President Obama no matter what he does and no matter how he does it. The name originated from a blog called Firedoglake by one of the chief complainers, Jane Hamsher. You might see them called Hamsherites as well.
3. I refer here to the widespread racism and religious bigotry exhibited during the 2008 Presidential election by Tea Party members, the dog whistles being used in the current GOP nomination race for 2012, age discrimination of the elderly who want their Medicare at all costs at the expense of the young and the future of the country, class warfare of the wealthiest Americans waged against the middle class, the refusal of the GOP as pushed by the Tea Party to compromise on anything with Pres. Obama even if it was an idea they formally advocated for, etc, etc…this list is endless.