Torturer Thiessen is trying to help the Republican party "rehabilitate" itself by raising it's level of mendacity by aping the theatrics of the new Pope Francis.[See the War against Vatican II] He's not advocating that they care more about the poor or minorities, just that they act like they care -- like the pope does. This is a pope whose first claim to fame was turning two of his fellows over to the torturers (rendering them I guess) for the crime of being too enthusiastic about the poor. But who is famous for going and washing the feet of poor people. Not feeding them, or clothing them, or actually doing anything for them; just coming in and doing theater. And Thiessen says:
"If Republicans want to change that impression, there is a simple solution: Be more like Pope Francis — defender of the family, the unborn and the poor."
Now, if you ask the rest of us the best way to change the impression that they are anti poor is to stop pursuing projects to persecute, oppress and dispossess the poor. But he goes on:
"One lesson from the Holy Father is that saying the right things about poverty is not enough. You have to show up."
Doesn't mean your policies have to actually help people, they merely have to be seen as caring, as "helping". It can all be theater if one merely puts in the appearance. Like Bush's "Kinder, Gentler" or Bush Junior's "compassionate conservativism." If people can be convinced it's not a PR Tactic they might actually buy it. All it takes are little things like:
[The Future Pope]“would arrive on a bus to their little chapel; how he sponsored marathons and carpentry classes, consoled single mothers and washed the feet of recovering drug addicts; how he became one of them.”
To be fair Thiessen also says:
It's not enough for Republicans to simply vote for school choice; they need to spend time with students struggling in failing schools. It's not enough to rail against dependency; they need to spend time helping those trapped in dependency to get the skills they need to get off public assistance. It's not enough to complain about Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric; they need to spend time fighting for the vulnerable.
Butif they do that, they can avoid real change. All they need is the appearance of doing these things. You need to give lip service to the "right to life:"
They don't have to abandon their principles to do it. As a cardinal, Bergoglio urged the faithful to “defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you.” But also he insisted that “No child should be deprived of the right to be born, the right to be fed, the right to go to school.” Notice that he did not stop at the right to be born. Neither should Republicans. The GOP needs to put as much emphasis on ensuring that children are fed and educated as it does on their fundamental right to life.
And of course one doesn't have to give priority to edcuation or training. Just talk about it, and show up at the right events.
Spending on social-welfare programs for the poor has grown by 50 percent since 2007, yet under Barack Obama, more than 2.6 million Americans have slipped out of the middle class and below the poverty line. The left fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.
Thiessen misses the fact that we've had another Republican Great Depression, that while gross spending may have increased by 50% the numbers of the poor have increased 10x that number due to unemployment, foreclosures and budgetary squeezes. But that never phases the "free market" types -- even though we don't have free markets.
Let the Democrats be the party of dependence and downward mobility. The GOP needs to become the party of independence, upward mobility and opportunity for all. During the fall campaign, Mitt Romney declared, “We will hear from the Democrat party about the plight of the poor . . . but my campaign is focused on middle-class Americans.” This was disastrously misguided. If Republicans want to be seen as a more welcoming party, the best way to prove it is by welcoming the poor and championing the vulnerable.
And this Rovian Strategy might work if we are stupid enough to buy the arguments. The playing field has never been less level. All of the improvements in productivity and opportunity have gone to the one percent who have inherited wealth over the past 30 years, and the kind of opportunity the Republicans offer is the opportunity to win a lottery where the odds are stacked against them unless they come from wealth and privilege or luck.
He's not advocating a new strategy. The Catholic Church has pursued this policy for thousands of years with a lot of success.