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HOW’S THAT BRAND LOYALTY WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? Voting Party or Voting Principles

“I’m an Oldsmobile man, because my dad was an Oldsmobile man, and his dad was an Oldsmobile man.” Now, replace the word “Oldsmobile,” with either “Democrat” or “Republican.”

When it comes to companies and political Parties, loyalty is more like gullibility: it is easy to pledge unconditional support to some huge organization in the name of tradition or appealing rhetoric (advertisements), but such a relationship with a non-human entity usually isn’t reciprocal.

In the case of Oldsmobile, there was little mechanically to differentiate that nameplate with General Motors’ other offerings. Either knowingly, or in a state of uninformed bliss, people who were loyal to Oldsmobile were loyal to nothing more than a name. In the end, GM dropped the historic division, leaving the Oldsmobile faithful with no new offerings.

As for the Big Two, Democrats and Republicans, the actions of GOP leadership, especially during the current session of Congress, create the perception that while there are cosmetic differences between the Parties, the inner-workings are interchangeable.

While driving home from work on Wednesday afternoon, I heard Sean Hannity interview Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) (who had talked with Laura Ingraham earlier that day), regarding House Speaker John Boehner’s zero-tolerance policy toward Republican Congressmen who voted against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, or Obamatrade. Republican Representatives who dared stray from the bi-partisan flock now face repercussions in the form of removal of positions and authority within Congressional committees, much like what happened to those who did not vote to re-appoint Speaker Boehner to his position.
While as a member of the Republican minority during the formation, passing, and the days following the passage of Obamacare, Republicans such as Mr. Boehner were not afraid to criticize that legislation, especially the secrecy that surrounded it.

Yes, it was easy for Republicans to openly criticize the Affordable Care Act, since the GOP did not have the power to repeal it.

Fast-forward to November 2014. The Republican Party had gained control of both Houses of Congress, despite contradictory predictions by career Republicans that Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) had “screwed the pooch” with his filibuster the previous year; an action that those same politicians claimed lead to a government shutdown. Ironically, there are allegations that Senator Cruz’ filibuster was supposed to be part of a bigger attempt to repeal Obamacare, but the other alleged Republican participants didn’t follow through on their ends of the deal.

Today, Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are the somewhat-proud cheerleaders for their own version of Obamacare: Obamatrade, that bill, much like Obamacare, has some secrets of its own.

Such acts of political self-servitude are not new to those of us who live in what are regarded as the most politically-corrupt states. Or, as a comparison of state-level corruption and cronyism to baseball: the farm teams.

Here in Illinois, many of we Republican voters have realized long ago that, with few exceptions, Illinois is a one-Party state. In other words, most members of both Parties share the same priorities. It is in this spirit of cronyism, patronage, and deal making that had turned the Land of Lincoln into the Land of George Ryan, the former governor turned convicted felon who found pride in being called a deal-maker.

Perhaps it was the fear of losing of hope in salvaging the national political system had kept some of us from believing that the one-Party game plan had reached the big league (Washington). Eventually, the similarities became too obvious to ignore, leaving many of us to admit that regardless of where we live in the U.S., we all now live in Cook County, Illinois.

There are still many Republican voters who believe that a politician with an (R) somewhere near his or her name, is better than having a Democrat holding the same office. And there are still Democrat voters who will defend the actions of Democrat politicians, regardless of how those actions interfere or restrict the income and/or rights of those Democrat voters.

The habit of voting for members of one Party, despite the self-serving nature of some of those politicians, is much like a security blanket: no matter how dirty, smelly, and decrepit that security blanket may become over time, it is illogically hard to part with.

The decision by GM management to drop Olds was supposedly based on declining sales. If GM could alienate past and potential future customers of its defunct divisions for lack of support, then there is no reason why past and potential future voters cannot do the same to the political Parties that take those voters for granted.


Chuck Gruenwald

Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for