Say what you will about Gary Delong, but he is not completely clueless about his diminishing chances of being elected into congress from a district like the 47th. Delong knows that he is facing an electorate that is much more sympathetic to the ideas of the modern (centrist) Democratic Party. Furthermore he also knows that most reasonable people find the insanity permeating throughout the Republican infrastructure to be beyond reprehensible. As a result, Delong has run a campaign that has parallels many aspects from the two most high-profile Republicans in the country: Mitt Romney and Scott Brown.
Delong, like Romney, has consistently stated his policy platform and political goals in the most ambiguous way possible. This strategy is based on the hope that no one would actually ask him to clarify or specify the collection of buzzwords and right-wing tropes that he expounds throughout the campaign. Scott Brown on the other hand, has provided Delong with a good example of how to run as as psuedo-independent in a blue state. Brown’s refusal to acknowledge the insanity of his party and his continued dismissal of his own voting record provides Delong with an excellent template to follow, particularly as Delong himself has no read “record” to speak of concerning his actual political positions (which means he can make them up as he goes along).
Delong has excelled in portraying himself as a “Maverick”, “independent”, and someone who seeks “bipartisanship” by repeating a series of meaningless rhetorical phrases that the local press then prints without any sort of critical analysis. This sort of practice is seductively dangerous for people who might by sympathetic to the idea that politics has become a disgusting sectarian conflict. While people like Delong might claim to be above the fray of the horrible nature of our modern political atmosphere, in reality once these so-called moderates are elected they act as enablers to the type of insanity that they condemned while campaigning. Luckily for us Delong’s own recent statements have provided a few clues as to his real beliefs on the major issues that he would have to address if he were to be elected to congress. As you can imagine, this supposed moderate is actually a much more of an ideologue when you start to analyze the larger context of his candidacy.
First of all, Delong is not running for Governor or for a Senate seat. He is running to become a member of the House of Representatives, which means that he would be directly subjected to the rule of John Boehner and his decisions as the Speaker of the House. Anyone who has followed the fantastic history of the 112th Congress can tell you that this crop of Republicans is beyond a doubt the most retrograde bunch of conservative psychopaths that has ever had control over the the lower chamber. Moderate Republicans simply do not exist, or if they do they vote with Tea Party legislation in order to avoid facing a primary in the next election. If Delong believes that he, as a freshman Republican from a blue district has the power to pass legislation, he exposing himself as either naive, delusional, or is just willing to lie about his true intentions if elected.
Secondly Delong might have inadvertently showed his true colors as a corporate stooge in the debate last week when he spoke about the wonders of “tort reform”. While lawyers might not be the most popular people in the world, the conservative attacks against plaintiffs attorneys, people who represent victims of corporate malfeasance, is part of a coordinated effort to allow big businesses to operate with impunity. When someone rants about “tort reform” what they are really saying is that they want to allow business to do whatever they want without the threat of being hauled out into civil court to answer to their victims. No matter what you have been told, the threat of trial attorneys litigating businesses to death is a myth, one that has become popular because it serves an incredibly wealth group of interests that want to make money regardless of who gets hurt in the process. In order to accomplish that goal, they need a sympathetic legislator, and Gary Delong fits that role perfectly by being unassuming and by avoiding controversial stances on other issues that might alarm voters to his extremism.
The dumping on lawyers and his vagueness on the issues of reproductive freedom and marriage equality also bely someone who is trying to confuse voters about his true beliefs on the role of the government on people’s civil rights and civil liberties. Scott Brown last night claimed that he wanted to prevent litigation for victims of pay discrimination, which Barney Frank later pointed out makes such laws preventing this abhorrent practice effectively useless. Likewise Delong has yet to comment on his whether his support for gay marriage means that he ascribes to the broader view of gay rights being protected by the federal constitution, which would allow them to use the courts to enforce these rights. What may seem like a simple difference of semantics or another example of Delong’s “moderation” is actually a quite important distinction between him and say his opponent, whose commitment to gay rights has never been questioned.
Finally however the biggest example of how Delong’s self-imposed image as a “nice” republican comes in terms of his views on economic rights and the “47%” that Mitt Romney so eloquently berated in the now infamous video. Like Delong, Romney was once viewed as a “business friendly” moderate who cared about balancing budgets and streamlining government. That facade was obviously exposed thanks to his more recent public supporting the Ryan Budget, defaming of welfare recipients, and his horrible economic record as Governor of Massachusetts. Delong has during this campaign repeated many of the same tropes as Romney regarding the role of government in the economy including their shared belief that the tax system punishes the “job creator” class while doling out benefits that we supposedly can no longer afford.
The facetiousness of Delong and Romney in terms of their economic message succeeds not because of the substance of what they are saying, but rather their tone. Someone like Newt Gingrich can not attract moderates by continually saying “let’s screw the poor”, but a candidate like Delong or Romney (at least until now) could easily say basically the same thing, albeit in a way that did not scare off voters. At the end of the day however Delong’s message empowers the same class of people who wrecked this economy and removes all methods of regulating the horrible problem of income inequality, he just knows how to market his zealotry in a less detestable way.
The strategy of getting elected in a place where the majority of people do not agree with virtually anything that you support is not particularly complicated, and Delong is trying his best to fool voters into thinking that he is more independent that he really is (or will be if elected). He has successfully managed to not answer any substantive questions, distinguish himself from his opponent in a noticeable way, or to firmly establish the magical way that he alone will defy an extremism in the Republican party that has already destroyed the careers of anyone who has dared to challenge its orthodoxy since 2008. In truth Delong is hoping to gain his seat through voter ignorance or apathy, which is a very dangerous gamble for him to take in a district where people pay attention to what their politicians do, rather than what they say.