Wednesday, April 29, 2009
NEVER TO AGAIN BE THE MAJORITY PARTY
"Ignorance is not bliss - it is oblivion."
- Philip Wylie -
If we look at the four men pictured here, we see they were all Republicans, and 3 of 4 were Presidents. They were, however, nothing like those who currently refer to themselves as Republicans. No, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt were economic liberals, who believed that government power trumped that of big business, and that excessively concentrated capital was undesirable and must be regulated by government. Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller were economic and social moderates who understood that organized labor and government must both have a valid role in bettering peoples' lives. All of these men would be thoroughly rejected outright by the GOP of today. For the shrinking, increasingly bitter and intolerant current Republican Party has very little in common with its great predecessor in earlier days. That is precisely why it has lost power and fallen into such great disfavor. I dare say that, barring an unforseen miracle or radical makeover, it will soon die and fade into history, as did the Federalist, Whig, and Know-Nothing parties in prior history when they lost relevance with voters and became too doctrinaire and too limited in focus.
The switch to the Democratic Party by long time Republican Arlen Specter proves there is no longer any room for moderates or progressives in the GOP. For conservatives now exert a stranglehold over the party. They do not mince words when chastising those who dare to drift from their rigid orthodoxy. Specter was roundly criticized by them for his opposition to their obstructionism, which he exhibited by voting for President Obama's recent economic stimulus plan. He, and other long time Republican moderates like Colin Powell and Susan Eisenhower, have all decried the vicious and uncooperative demeanor the party has taken on. It has become a party of bigots and bullies. Just yesterday, conservative Republican commentator Rush Limbaugh instructed his hard core followers that the loss of Specter was a good thing, and wished that Specter would "take McCain and his daughter with him." Limbaugh, like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Michele Bachmann, Dick Cheney, John Cornyn, John Boehner, and the rest of their ilk, are each clueless as to the current needs of the overwhelming majority of the population, who are hurting from massive unemployment, ever-rising health care costs, and frozen wages. They repeatedly and uniformly call only for more tax cuts as the one action needed to turn the economy around. They stand as a solidly immovable bloc, opposed to changes that people want. This has not, and will not, gain them voter support.
The current conservative-controlled Republican Party does NOT share the wishes or values of the vast majority of people. Most people are opposed to free trade deals that send American jobs overseas, but the GOP still supports those free trade agreements. Most people want universal health care for citizens, but the GOP and shadowy conservative groups are already mounting an ad campaign in an effort to prevent passage of such legislation. A large majority of Americans favor the right of workers to organize into labor unions for collective bargaining purposes to raise wages, but the GOP hates unions and wants them to wither away altogether. Most people do not want the filthy rich or major corporations to receive any more tax breaks or subsidies, but the GOP is still pushing its beloved tax-cut philosophy. Most Americans do not favor pre-emptive war, the use of war as an ongoing profit center for arms merchants and huge weapons manufacturers, or the use of torture as a tool of policy, but here is the GOP advocating military force over diplomacy, and endorsing "the ends justifies the means" philosophy when it comes to using torture, at every opportunity. Americans want cooperation in government and a united front in our effort to restore prosperity and secure the country from terrorism. Yet here is Rush Limbaugh saying he hopes President Obama will fail, Sarah Palin saying he "pals around with terrorists", Dick Cheney saying his policies are leaving the country less safe, Michele Bachmann questioning how pro-America he is, and the rest of the far-right contemptuously criticizing him, liberals, progressives, and anyone else who isn't a modern-day conservative Republican. Senator Olympia Snowe, one of only two remaining moderate Republican Senators, was quoted recently as saying "Ultimately, we're heading to having the smallest political tent in history, the way events have been unfolding. If the Republican Party fully intends to become a majority party in the future, it must move from the far right back to the middle." She is absolutely correct.
I predict, though, that the Republican Party will never again be the majority party. For many decades, when given control of the White House and Congress, they have delivered legislation beneficial only to special interests representing the rich and powerful, not the majority of the country. They have implemented economic policy which has neglected or hurt the poor and those on fixed incomes. They have actively supported union-busting and outsourcing American jobs. They have tried to socially and culturally force this diverse country into artificially rigid and narrowly restricted confines of their own authoritarian social and religious right beliefs. In doing all of these things, they are running contrary to America's will and to her very nature. Majority parties do not behave in such a manner.
Arch-conservative Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas recently complained about how the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. was trying to run everyone's lives, and that if things didn't improve soon, Texans may wish to secede from the Union again, as they did in 1861. He was offered philosophical support from a number of far-right pundits and mainly fellow southern conservative Republicans. This, too, runs counter to what the overwhelming majority of Americans believe. But perhaps Perry and his cohorts SHOULD be allowed to follow through with their desire. America and its people would be far better off without a conservative power base obstructing progressive legislation and continually enabling corrupt, big business interests. Go set up a modern-day Dark Ages nation of serfs with masters, and and feel free to restore feudalism. Populate it with all the Rush Limbaughs, Sarah Palins, Joe the phony Plumbers, Glenn Becks, and John Boehners you can find.Just don't let our door hit you on the ass on your way out. Good riddance - the rest of us want to get something constructive accomplished!