Politics of Resentment

Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect

Newt Gingrich supporters hold up signs in support of the candidate after his victory in South Carolina.

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA—At 7:01—one minute after the polls closed—the local news affiliate announced the results of the South Carolina Republican primary. Newt Gingrich was the projected winner, with a margin in the double-digits.

For the already large crowd of supporters waiting in the ballroom of the Columbia Hilton, where the Gingrich campaign scheduled its election-night event, this was the moment they had waited for.

Dozens of people began to shout the former Speaker’s name—”Newt, Newt, Newt!”—as they waved signs and the DJ blared a (ridiculous) techno cover of Journey’s hit single, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Among the chanters was Vicki Sciolaro, a volunteer for Gingrich who had traveled 900 miles from Leewood, Kansas to support the former House Speaker in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. “He is brilliant,” she said, clearly jubilant. “He is very eloquent with his words, and a great leader.”

By this point—roughly 30 minutes before the party was scheduled to start— the DJ had moved to AC/DC’s classic single, “Back in Black,” and the ballroom had begun to fill with Gingrich supporters. I managed to grab a nice spot at the base of the platform where Gingrich would give his address and met Raymond Moore, a school custodian from just outside of Columbia, “He doesn’t take anything from anybody,” Moore said about Gingrich. “He’s a bit of a tough guy, and I think America needs that right now.”

This was the sentiment from almost everyone I spoke to. Gingrich voters weren’t just looking for a conservative; they were looking for someone who could stand up to President Barack Obama, stand up to Congress, and get things done. By aggressively confronting the moderators in both presidential debates, Gingrich gave voters what they were looking for.

“I think he is the only candidate who is defending conservatism and not just himself,” said Ashley Bell, the Republican county commissioner from Georgia who was one of a handful of African Americans at the Gingrich event.

Ken Darr, a Spartanburg-based lawyer who was a latecomer to Gingrich’s campaign, offered a similar take. “I think the whole interview with the ex-wife ended up helping him in the debates, and gave his supporters a lot of energy,” he said.

That energy was pulsing through the ballroom, as more people packed into the area, and the DJ moved from 1980s arena-rock, to 1990s dance hits (“Everybody Dance Now”) and a little Prince (“1999”). I used this as an opportunity to move to the lobby of the hotel, in hopes of meeting a few of the elected officials who would join Gingrich on the stage when he gave his speech. I saw South Carolina Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell as he was hurried into a private room, and I had the opportunity to speak with Arizona Representative Trent Franks, who endorsed Gingrich last week.

“Newt Gingrich has an almost magical ability to discern the fallacies in the left-wing message, rebut them, and offer the conservative message,” said Franks, explaining his support for the former House Speaker.

I asked if he thought that former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum would face pressure from conservative leaders to bow out of the race, and he declined to answer. But he was confident that conservatives would rally around Gingrich if he were the nominee. “If there is anything on this plant that unifies conservatives, it is the nightmare of a second term for Barack Obama,” he said.

By the time Gingrich arrived to give his speech, it was past 9 pm, and the results were mostly in—he had won South Carolina with 41 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 27 percent. This was a massive victory for the former House Speaker, and if you dig into the results, you would see the extent to which he beat Romney on every measure, from conservative values to (yes, believe it or not) electability.

With the exception of a little praise for his competitors—and a digression about America’s greatness—Gingrich didn’t stay from his standard stump speech. He railed against “anti-religious bigots” and warned that President Obama was trying to move the country down the road of “radical European socialism.”

“I want to go to every neighborhood and every ethnicity and say that if you want a president of food stamps and dependency, you have Barack Obama,” said Gingrich, doubling-down on the rhetoric that sparked his rise in South Carolina last week.

Usually, by this point in the Republican nomination contest, there is a candidate with two wins under his or her belt. This is the first time in Republican history that three different candidates have won three different primaries, and with that in mind, it’s hard to make predictions about what will happen next.

With his fundraising prowess, establishment support, and national campaign organization, Mitt Romney is still a favorite for the nomination. But with this huge win in South Carolina—and the conservative distaste for Romney—you can begin to imagine a path to the nomination for Gingrich. Indeed, if Rick Santorum drops out before Florida, that path becomes even clearer.

In the meantime, we should remember this moment. On the basis of his attacks on journalists, minorities, and the president, a thrice-married, disgraced former lawmaker has won a primary in the heart of Republican country. Either this is a fluke, or the moment when the GOP embraced its worst impulses.

Comments

This whole campaign has been about the Republican rank-and-file screaming its rage. They can only think in the terms laid out by Clear Channel and Fox: how the liberals and those that liberals defend are doing them (the self-sufficient and highly moral backbone of America) dirty. They've gone from Trump to Bachmann to Cain in search of someone who will bring unlimited vitriol, lunacy, and vileness in the name of taking back racist, sexist, fundamentalist America. Newt was just the only one of their chosen demagogues with the savvy to survive this far.

I would ask you to consider your own Leftist Progressive sites agendas. There "in search of " comment is simply a frustrated rant of a losing Leftist.
Progressives need desparately to have a place in the Republic. Unfortunately, thier selection of place embodies much of the "in Search Of " comment.
Take the beam out of your eye before you seek to wash the mote from Conservatives.
bt
I would offer the Conservative hand of honest, earnest comparison of viewpoints, minus angst driven rants.
Semper Fi

1. The Newt win is not a fluke
2. The Newt Conservatives are not embracing Negativism, Bigotism, nor Religious Rightousness.
The Conservative Movement = Newt. That movement, the Tea Party, the Fly Over folks, the Unemployed folks not living off Welfare/UNemployment, the ones that are not counted in the Bureau of Labor stats, the ones that continue to try to find positive work, the ones that are laboring to become RE Educated, the ones that have families that ALL work, that ALL participate, That NONE live in the basement of the Parents homes, these are the Conservatives that voted for Newt.
These are the ones that will eventually toss the Leftist Czars, Obama, his minions appointees down the Capital Steps.
A win here is the Conservatives voice. Read the Chaldean Hand on the Wall.
Obama has been wieghed in the balance and found wanting.
Semper FI

Gosh, I take back what I say about vile rants based on hatred of liberals. Clearly you have an uplifting vision of America, based of hard data and considered judgment.

Actually, the hard data is avaliable in the Federal Government own statistic web sites. A review shows that individual SBO, individual efforts to attain better income via personal effort, always exceeds Federal supported programs.
Federal supported programs come universally with the hook of Federal control. This automatically biases the participant to failure.
Whereas, the individual oriented programs do fail, they always come with the hook that the failure was the individuals cause. When they do succeed, which is far more often than via the Federal program route, the lessons learned provide the base for future success.
Hard Data, IE Statistics are dry pictures of individual efforts. The Dare to be Great days of individualism are still viable.
Semper fi

The conservates have little to offer the shrinking middle class. One out of two fall into the impoverished or low income category and most through no fault of their own. Republicans have no compassionate for the underdogs in life. They figure they became prosperous so anyone can. Their only concern is big business which they insist is our backbone of capitalism. What about entrepenours; they are part of this free enterprise system. The republicans are killing our democracy. Karl Marx predicted that some day the corporations and the elite would wipe out the middle class; thus, we will have only a two class system. This is already happening. He also prophesied the under class would eventually revolt and our government as we know it now, will become a country of strict socialism. Conservative voters of the lower and middle classes and voters with strong religious convictions are not being represented by the republicans. They claim to be devout yet they support bigots, hypocrites, liars, the greedy and adulterers. There is no such thing as a "trickle down" economy; we just had an 11 year experiment lowering taxes for the rich. Where are the jobs? Everyone is getting poorer while the corporate profits are going through the roof. Some don't pay taxes at all and others pay a lower rate than the average worker. As Dr. Phil would say, "What the hell are you thinking?"

"As Dr. Phil would say, "What the hell are you thinking?"
Specifically, stating the case for Individualism, the 4 Freedoms of later years, the latent denigrated idea that an individual can and does succeed w/o the aid, dependency comfort of the Federal Programs guised as a means to control the lives of such.
Conservative voters, identified as some level of religious intolerance by the poster, would offer thier other cheek to such. Check the sources of the Progressive Foundations, you will find buried in the past moneys, a religious opportunist, who actually made the money that the Progressives are now spending to further thier ideology. Cast no stones, less the ripples get your feet wet.
Semper FI

OK--Gingrich is supposed to be The Man because he's a great debater who can eviscerate an opponent. But I'm hard pressed to recall just when he's actually eviscerated an opposing candidate in these debates. His "great moments" last week were all points scored at the expense of journalists--guys whose job prevented them from mixing it up with him. That's not debating, that's bullying. On the other hand, he's never seriously laid a hand on Romney in debates; what he's done is get under Romney's skin with his ads, and reveal how thin that skin is and how clueless he is about making a case for himself to people who don't necessarily accept the overwhelming awesomeness of investment banking. Obama doesn't let people get under his skin; quite apart from being the POTUS (and even a disliked POTUS generally gets respect from most Americans--bullying doesn't work), he's just too cool and too clever at getting people to defeat themselves. Gingrich isn't a "debater"; he hearkens back to the days of the early-twentieth-century stump-meeting style of southern politics, where the candidates would come together and vie for the title of Baddest White Man. This is trial by combat of a sort that supposedly died out in the age of the "cool" media; but Gingrich has managed to revive it for that age.

Even though Gingrich gets low down and dirty, which is his nature obviously, I do believe that Romney's money and superpacs brought the other candidates to their knees. Gingrich just fought back and Romney should have perceived that.

Newt does sorta make your nostalgic for Georgia demagogues like Lester Maddox and the Talmadges, who at least were above board in their racism. Instead he hides his cheap shots (like the food stamp president) behind his professorial facade. I just wish that when Republicans used terms like the "Obama nightmare", reporters would ask for a description of that nightmare. The media too often take Republican coded phrases at face value. Even this blog post about resentment doesn't dig into the resentment.

I keep hearing about African Americans who move back to Georgia or South Carolina for the mild weather and low cost of living, so it's no wonder that Republicans are looking for new ways to block their votes. I'd like to hear more about that black woman who drove from Georgia to South Carolina just to hear Newt. I wish she'd been asked to say just what she found so compelling.

Not much different than when they embraced the lies of the Karl Rove, Bush campaign.
To say they have never used or never will use Federal dollars is delusional and dishonest. The AB (After Bush) economy has caused the joblessness which caused the most people on food stamps in history. The remark by Gingrich that Obama "put" those people on food stamps brought the "Ignorant by Choice" crowd over to him.

As usual, Republicans follow the Karl Rove playbook into victory.....come up with an outrageous lie, and just keep saying it. Say it in the face of factual evidence that disproves it. Say it in the face of continuing polls that show that the majority of Americans don't believe you. JUST KEEP SAYING IT, AND YOU WILL WIN.

Funny....isn't that how Joseph Goebbels suckered an entire nation into committing genocide and starting the 2nd World War?

It is strange the democrats always have the math, statistics, and the proof to substantiate their statements while the republicans are so redundant with their false rhetoric.

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