June 15, 2012
When things get a little out of hand in my life, as I’m sure things do in yours, I have a tendency to “Get Elemental”, as I call it. Another way of putting it is in a concept a wise young friend of mine said to me in my youth. “When you shake a tree vigorously, some of the leaves will fall off. The ones that remain are the ones that really matter to the tree”. While watching the Republican Party absolutely and positively lose their frigging minds like they are right now, I have a tendency to want to get elemental about what a Republican is,,, or more like, what a Republican SHOULD be.
A definition, if you will, to try and figure out what has gone all cattywampus. (I’ll give you a moment to look that up.)
Republicans are conservative. Let’s examine that term for a moment. Dictionary.Com defines the word thus:
“Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change”. The World English Dictionary says: “Favoring the preservation of existing customs, values etc., and opposing innovation”.
I don’t find any of those things threatening. I think “Opposing Innovation” to be a bit sluggish if you have a vision of something better, but there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the viewpoint. That doesn’t mean that Republicans favor standing still for all eternity. It means that they favor change in slow incremental steps that preserve what we have, while gently and carefully reaching for what we imagine we could have. A sense of building on what exists as a foundation, to make the big picture more, or better. I find no fault with that reasoning.
But that’s not what Conservatism is today. Here’s a few quotes from a few famous Republicans from decades ago:
“We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver, or less?” — President Ronald Reagan, June 1985
When I first read that quote it was in an article in Rolling Stone Magazine that was brought to my attention earlier this year by a co-worker who was surfing the net. I was truly shocked when I got to the part where the person quoted was identified. I thought it was a democrat or a progressive, like President Obama or Senator Bernie Sanders or something. A few years ago I read another quote that shocked me as well. Here’s what I read and I had the same reaction when learning who said it:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.“ — President Dwight Eisenhower, 1961
“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. — President Abraham Lincoln
In all fairness, Lincoln, though a Republican, was considered a liberal. In his day, the attitudes of the two political Parties were reversed. Democrats were thought of as the stodgy business oriented folks and Republicans were the wild radical bleeding hearts on the political landscape of the United States.
My point here is to draw a comparison between the Conservatism of the first half of the last century and what a frightening and deranged thing Republican Ideology have morphed into, today. The Republican Conservative mindset used to have some sort of integrity, some deep thought and introspection about what could make the United States a stronger, more powerful force in the world that carried with it a sense of moral character.
Contrast those quotes with what passes for Conservatism today:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one term President.”– Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“This president I think has exposed himself over and over again as a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture….I\’m not saying he doesn’t like white people, I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist. — Radio and Television Spokes-model Glen Beck
“Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans; The House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.“ — Republican Political Operative Grover Norquist 2102
Of course, these aren’t the deepest thoughts or loftiest ideals that Conservative Republicans hold today and you and I both know it. But, they ARE indicative of what the Republican Party has been reduced to by money and radical fear of change. In the 2012 election, they have chosen as their champion, a compulsive liar with a demonstrated lack of moral compass. Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney has been accurately described as a “Well Oiled Weather Vane” by members of his own Party.
Republicans appear to have given up all hope of developing an attractive message or any sense of moral character that might attract voters to a vision of the future. They have instead become angry bullies bent on destroying anything that isn’t Republican, including the very country they claim to love.
2 years ago they created a fiscal crisis by refusing to allow the debt ceiling to be raised as it has traditionally been done, for as long as we can remember, in order to stimulate the economy into some meaningful form of recovery from the worst financial disaster in our lifetimes. As a direct result, for the first time in our history, the world’s faith in our ability to govern ourselves appropriately was called into question and our nation’s credit rating was damaged. That is not principled behavior. That’s juvenile schoolyard bullying!
I believe that Conservatism and what used to be the Republican Party is a much needed “Check and Balance” of the more esoteric excesses of liberalism. But, at present, that balance is dysfunctional as the Republican Party races radically and irresponsibly further and further to the right, causing the political landscape to change so rapidly and so dramatically that these quotes from Republicans as recently as 1985 (the Reagan Quote) now sound like the radical socialism they are accusing Democrats of.
We are in trouble in the United States as I write this and I am clear that blame and accountability can be assigned for it. It is only our fear that prevents us from recognizing that the Republican Party has most certainly lost their frigging minds and are terrorizing the citizenry of the United States and damaging our good name across the globe. Blame can also be assigned to the media for not calling a lie a lie, and for not exercising a sense of duty to the American People, to tell the truth, because of their fear of retribution from their employers; Conservative Republicans, nearly to a person. They have slowly and carefully orchestrated the infiltration of conservative political action into the Supreme Court of the United States to the point where over 100 years of Constitutional Law has recently been ignored in order to allow elections to be sold to the highest bidders; also Conservative Republicans nearly to a person!
Though to a lesser degree, the Democratic Party is not blameless either. Beholden to the same financial interests for their very electoral survival, they have, in a large part, abdicated their own integrity and responsibility to the American People to stand for the truth they know. This is not principled behavior either. It is cowardice.
The good people of the United States ARE better than this and we deserve better from our leaders. It is clearly up to us, you and I, to restore the principled behavior, that guides our own lives, back upward into the political landscape of our country because it will certainly not come trickling down from above!