COMMENTARY | Clint Eastwood might have been the highest-profile celebrity to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention. But a Hollywood notable from a different era hung over the three-day affair: Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. It is not just that Eastwood’s performance seemed like it could have come right out of the often otherworldly-based TV show. It was rather that the entire theme of the convention eerily echoed that of one of its classic episodes.
In “To Serve Man ,” aliens land on earth and, after dispensing numerous benefit including curing cancer and solving the energy crisis, manage to lure hoards of humans back to their planet with promises of a blissful life. As passengers are boarding the space ship, someone reveals too late that he has figured out the contents of the book the aliens have been carrying with them. Titled “To Serve Man,” the large tome is a cookbook, and humans as the main entrée.
Like the wily aliens, the Republican Party in this election is selling itself to a specific group: in this case, white males, among whom Mitt Romney leads President Obama by 26 points . The decision to focus on this voting bloc is driven in large part by the fact that the party finds itself espousing policies guaranteed to turn off other key demographics, especially Hispanics and women. Evidence of what Nate Silver at 538 blog has called a “base turnout strategy ” can be found in the persistence of the Romney ad which claims that Obama has eliminated the work requirement in welfare. Despite its being slammed as false by most serious fact-checking organizations, the Romney campaign has continued to run and defend the ad. The only plausible explanation for this bizarre strategy, as the New Republic has pointed out, is that “the advertisements target the audience that Romney needs, namely, white working class voters.”
But if the Republicans are trying to lure in white males, it has to be admitted that Party’s actual policies will have a determinedly detrimental impact on the group. To begin, the Tax Policy Center has performed a detailed analysis of Romney’s tax proposal and concluded it will inevitably mean higher taxes for the middle class — the majority of whom in this country are white males and their families. Similarly, the Ryan Medicare Plan, which Romney has signed on to , has been estimated by several reputable sources to add up to $6,000 to the bill of the average senior citizen. Finally if, as Romney has promised, the Affordable Care Act is eliminated, the majority of those who will be left uninsured as a result will be white males.
At least the humans who boarded the spaceship in “To Serve Man” can be said to have done so not knowing they were to meet a gruesome fate. Since the Republicans have hardly made a secret of their proposals, no such excuse can be provided for white males.