13 March 2012

Excellent Coomentary by Ted McLaughlin

Reposted from Jobsanger

The early years of the Republican Party were something to be proud of. Their first president, Abraham Lincoln, not only freed the slaves but saved the United States from tearing itself into pieces. Later, Teddy Roosevelt fought for the common man by busting up corporate monopolies and created a lasting treasure for Americans by establishing the National Park system. Any political party would have been proud to have men of the stature of these two.

By the twentieth century, the GOP had turned its back on its progressive roots and became the party of big business and conservative values. But even though they had changed their political and economic ideology, many of the party leaders still honored the Constitution and fought for it in their own way. There were men like Dwight Eisenhower (who had the political courage to send federal troops to Little Rock to enforce integration), Everett Dirksen (who rounded up Republican votes in the Senate to help pass the Civil Rights laws), Barry Goldwater (who defended equal rights for homosexuals when his party would not), and William Buckley (who had mastered the art of political dialogue with those who disagreed with him).

I did not often agree with these men, but I believed they were worthy adversaries who deserved some respect. They did not demonize their political opponents. They could argue forcefully for their conservative point of view, and then enjoy dinner or drinks with their political opponents -- because they did not consider them to be "enemies" or "traitors" for having a different point of view. And after defending their own point of view, they knew how to compromise for the good of the country.

That is no longer true. The party has no real leaders anymore. In an attempt to retain power, they appealed to the racists, homophobes, misogynists, religious fundamentalists, and other haters who had been (justifiably) marginalized in our society. Now those elements have taken over the party. Instead of leading, current Republican elected officials can now only pander to these elements to retain their offices. The lunatics (the base) have now taken over the asylum (the party), and they believe anyone who disagrees with them is an enemy of America. They consider even a small compromise to be utter surrender. The only word they understand is no.

I think one of the best descriptions of the current party was by Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker. He is what he says about the party's base voters:

The Republican “base”—an excitable, overlapping assortment of Fox News friends, Limbaugh dittoheads, Tea Party animals, war whoopers, nativists, Christianist fundamentalists, à la carte Catholics (anti-abortion, yes; anti-torture, no), anti-Rooseveltians (Franklin and Theodore), global-warming denialists, post-Confederate white Southrons, creationists, birthers, market idolaters, Europe demonizers, and gun fetishists.

I certainly can't argue with that, but I would add one more group -- the neo-nazis and holocaust deniers. Just look at this candidate running to represent the Republican Party in the November election for the Illinois 3rd Congressional District seat. His name is Art Jones, and he is a past member of the National Socialist Party (something he is not ashamed of and refuses to disavow). He is also a holocaust-denier. Here's what he says about it:

As far as I’m concerned, the Holocaust is nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews. It’s the blackest lie in history. Millions of dollars are being made by Jews telling this tale of woe and misfortune in books, movies, plays and TV. The more survivors, the more lies that are told.

Fifty years ago (or even thirty years ago), this bigot could not have found a place on any Republican ballot -- because he didn't believe in the GOP conservatism of that time. He is simply a Nazi. But the new conservatism of the Republican Party's base is different now, and Jones' brand of bigotry and hatred fits right in. He'll probably get a significant number of votes. Thankfully, the 3rd Congressional District is (and has been for quite a while) a Democratic seat and is likely to stay that way.

But it is a sad commentary on the current state of the Republican Party that such a bigot can consider he has a kinship with the party. But he does. The Republican Party has become a home for all kinds of haters. It is no longer the party of Lincoln and Roosevelt. It is the party of hate.

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