The titular quote ("gullin'" is slang for "fooling") is from one of my favorite literary characters, John Proctor, in The Crucible. Proctor was a Puritan. Puritans definitely would've been Republicans: Strict, religious, anti-science, yet possessing the occasional proclivity for an adulterous sex scandal. They would've fit in just fine.
As far as modern Republicans go, there are essentially three groups. The first two I totally get. The third puzzles me.
The first group are essentially modern-day Puritans. They're defined by what they don't like. They hate abortion, evolution, religions other than Christianity, gays, immigrants, and, if you catch them after a few beers, most people of color. I totally get why these people vote Republican.
The second group is defined by what they do like: money. They're well-off, and damn everybody else. They disdain taxes and love hedge funds. Inconsistently, they tend to support costly wars and are usually Christians themselves, which contradicts the whole idea of getting rich and screwing the poor. Hypocrisy aside, I get why these people vote Republican.
The third group is the one that frustrates and perplexes me. They are social moderates, often pro-choice and trusting of science instead of a very old book. They're usually middle to lower-middle class. They often benefit from the services government provides far more than they pay into the system. Yet they hear the word "taxes," even if those taxes are aimed far above the bracket they belong to, and they see red. They oppose any impediment to the "free market," such as limiting executive pay and golden parachutes, even as their homes are foreclosed and their cost of living goes up without any pay increases. They despise unions (except the one they happen to belong to). Their patron saint is Joe the Plummer, a man who was convinced that his American Dream was going to be trashed by Obama's tax plan if, in fact, he had WAY more money than he actually did.
They look at statistics that show that CEO compensation has risen from 30-1 in the 1960's to 300-1 in the 2000's and don't blink. It doesn't phase them that every economic statistic that can be measured shows that the top 5% are getting richer, while the middle and lower class either stays the same or goes backward.
Why not? It's because of that great American myth that's been pounded into our heads from the day we were born: All of us can be millionaires. It just takes hard work and a little luck. So they keep voting for politicians who look to help the upper class almost exclusively because they firmly believe that they will be the elite earners someday themselves. It's the equivalent of basing your vote on the assumption that you'll win the lottery eventually.
In the meantime, this demographic ignores a very basic fact: There is only so much wealth, so many resources to go around. I'm no economist, but I can explain this in basic terms. Wealth is like a pie. If the top five percent are taking over 60 percent of the pie (that's approximately the number), there's less of it for the rest of us. So, you say, "I don't begrudge those CEO's making millions; what does it have to do with me?" They're taking huge chunks of the pie, and you're offering them seconds out of your own measly portion. They'll be happy to keep eating as you keep voting for the guys who take their marching orders from them.
I'm not naive enough to believe that the Dems don't take their cues from corporations, also. This is why I usually vote Green. But for middle-class, non-Evangelical citizens to keep helping out the Elephants is contrary to their own interests. Worse, they're being "gulled" by very cynical people who smile and promise future riches even as the they count their supporters' money and feed them peanuts.