“Political courage is not political suicide.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger
Meanwhile, back at the implosion…
The fear and desperation is palpable this week, particularly in the faces of Karl Rove and Eric Cantor. No doubt about it: the Frankenstein Monster that the GOP has so gleefully cultivated in recent decades has turned on them; the people of the village are heading for the laboratory of the mad scientist armed with pitchforks and torches—and they’re out for blood, baby! Doctors Rove and Cantor are frantically trying to tame a monster that refuses to be subdued. The castle that houses their lab is crumbling all around them. That “morning in America” has morphed into a long dark night of insanity and despair. The chickens have come home to roost—and they’re armed and dangerous. The “party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt” has lost its mind. The hinges are coming off the doors. The horses are bolting the stable in terror. Their world is shattered.
Life is beautiful.
They’re wondering how this catastrophe could have possibly happened, how everything could have gone so dreadfully wrong.
Is there any way to undo this electoral thunderclap? They tried all the devious devices at their disposal in the last election. Suppressing the vote didn’t work. Their unlimited campaign coffers weren’t of much help. Their fake polls and propaganda proved utterly worthless. What the hell is going on here?
If you take a good look at history, it’s fairly easy to see why this is happening. In fact, it was almost inevitable. The seeds of self-destruction for the Republicans can be traced all the way back to the mid-1960s. When President Johnson brought the Civil and Voting Rights Acts into being—laws specifically designed to protect and uphold the elemental rights of “knee-grows” in American society—the racist “Dixiecrats,” who had been an albatross around the neck of the Democrats since their inception in the early nineteenth century, went positively apoplectic in rage and disgust. In less than a decade they were gone, fleeing into the welcome and loving arms of the GOP.
A little town called “Philly.”
In the ensuing years, they managed to (somewhat) tone down the racism. Oh, it was still there alright, always bubbling just beneath the surface of their rancid stew. They merely were able to camouflage the hatred with clever, symbolic gestures—such as when Ronald Reagan launched his 1980 campaign for the presidency from Philadelphia. And I’m not referring to the City of Brotherly Love in Pennsylvania; I’m referring to Philadelphia, Mississippi, an unremarkable little stain on the map that was famous for one event only: the brutal slayings there of three civil rights workers in the summer of 1964. It was Ronnie’s slick little way of letting the nice folks in dear old Dixie know that Jim Crow would be given the red carpet treatment in his White House. The message was about as subtle as a fiery cross—and it worked better than anyone anticipated. A generation later, many of der Gipper’s ideological heirs are attempting to repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as “unconstitutional.”
Ain’t that a knee-slapper?
Had LBJ been unsuccessful in making civil and voting rights possible, there is little doubt that Barack Obama’s career as a politician would have ended in Chicago.
This very fact drives the right wing nuts. When Reagan campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964, his main bone of contention against the administration of Lyndon Johnson was “socialized medicine” (Medicare) and “states’ rights” (civil rights). Back then, the message of the right wing was a lot more subtle than it is today. Those were the days, my friend!
Fast forward a half-century later. In the early 1900s, the first President Roosevelt coined the term “lunatic fringe.” 100 years later, the fringe has gone mainstream. As the old joke goes, “the lunatics have taken over the asylum.” This is the dilemma that the movers and shakers inside the Weird Old Party find themselves in. It was demonstrated hilariously during last year’s campaign. They know damned well that unless they moderate, George W. Bush will be remembered in history as “The Last Republican President” (the title of the first piece I ever wrote on this site).
The problem is that their party has been taken over by intellectually deficient hotheads who should be fitted for straitjackets. That is why Eric Cantor is now attempting to sugarcoat the agenda. That is why Karl Rove is now trying desperately to keep the tea party loonies off the ballot. I don’t think their scheme is going to work this time. Not only have the lunatics taken over the asylum, they’re writing the freaking prescriptions.
Here is how out-of-touch with reality they have become: as much as 85 percent of the American people are in favor of universal background checks for anyone who would attempt to purchase a handgun. And yet, inexplicably, right wing politicians (and that number includes a few Democrats) have chosen to side with the seven percent who would have you believe that the government is within days of sending a squadron of predator drones into Anytown, USA.
I don’t envy Karl Rove and Eric Cantor. They’re both walking on cracked eggshells these days, and it’s quite an amusing thing to watch. They have the tricky task of trying to make their extreme agenda appear more palatable to voters with IQ’s above room temperature. That’s the only course they have. They don’t dare attempt to reposition their party even half-an-inch toward the center. Such a move would surely cause a massive freakout among the crazies, risking a third party uprising and dooming the Republican party in the process. Rove has been described by some as a “political genius.” Hats off to him if he can slither his way out of this one.
Keep your eyes on the faces carved into Mount Rushmore. They were sculpted to last for several millennium, but I’m not too sure about that. Don’t be surprised if, any day now, the jaws on the images of Teddy Roosevelt and Abe Lincoln come crashing to the ground.
Tom Degan is a 54 year old video artist but now makes his name by writing about politics and current events on his blog, The Rant. “I was a Democrat, until they became GOP-lite. I am now nothing—a man without a party, as it were. That’s okay. I like the solitude. I am the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom…Okay, I’ll fess up. That’s a bald-faced lie. But I did get a ribbon of sorts when I was in the Cub Scouts.” Tom lives and resides in Goshen, NY, the most Republican little berg north of the Mason Dixon line. He’s “the most popular guy in town.” That’s also a lie. “I love children, little baby duckies and Glenn Miller’s recording of Moonlight Serenade. That’s the truth. So there.”
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