Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV
Paul Ryan's scheme to attack Medicare is clever and insidious.
Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice-president on Mitt Romney's ticket, tries to lure older voters by telling them that nothing will change about Medicare for those 55 years old or older. He did it again Saturday in Florida, double-talking senior citizens in an attempt to bamboozle them.
It is a clear attempt to divide and conquer. Don't worry, he tells them, by implication. Any negative consequences will be suffered only by your children and grandchildren, not by you.
How cynical. Ryan and Romney, with the help of Fox News and other right-wing propagandists, are relying on the mentality of the greed-is-good era that flourished under Ronald Reagan, their patron saint: I"ve got mine, Bub. Now you go get yours. You're on your own.
Sometimes, this traditional Republican hustle really works. During the Nixon administration, when thousands marched against the war in Viet Nam and the military draft, they instituted the draft lottery. By giving everyone a birthday number from 1 to 365, Nixon and his henchmen assured draft-age men that no more than one-third of them were vulnerable to serve in the military.
Having removed the fear of death from about two-thirds of the service-age population, Nixon lessened the opposition to his policies while reducing the number and fervor of those who still demonstrated.
Ryan and Romney are counting on a similar mentality. Older voters will go along with their dangerous and hard-hearted policy as long as they aren't hurt by it. The ploy assumes that older voters are selfish and willing to hurt younger citizens as long as they themselves are protected..
Most people won't buy into this line of reasoning. It's casual cruelty is transparent. Most seniors and 55-plus voters will not pull up the drawbridge for others after they themselves have crossed the moat to health-care security.
But the strategy does not have to be an overwhelming success to work. What if it convinces just 15 per cent of the older voters in a swing state like Florida? That margin could be enough to tip those key electoral votes from President Obama to the vulture capitalist, Romney, who seeks to seize control of our government and our economy.
Stranger things have happened in that sketchy state, where the 2000 election was stolen by George W. Bush, the Republicans and the Supreme Court over Al Gore and the Democrats. Unlike Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate in 2008, Ryan is not a ditz or an ignorant person. Unlike Palin, he chooses his words carefully and pretends to be conciliatory.
But behind his smiling face is a sinister mind. He is a rising star who grew up inspired by Ayn Rand, the Russian atheist who preached a gospel that celebrated selfishness and disparaged those in need.
As we learned in 2000, it really does matter who wins elections. The wrong choice (even if illegitimate and tainted, as Bush was), can bring expensive, bloody and misguided wars and a full crash of the economy by Wall Street sharks who gamble with other peoples' money. This November, it is essential that Democrats, liberals and progressives get out the vote, fight Republican attempts at suppression and defeat greedheads of the right wing.
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