Once I Found Items Like This Amusing….

It is sad, really.

I am a political junkie.  I have been for as long as I can remember.  I believe it was in 7th grade where I received my first detention hall punishment for turning my yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbon into an anti-war message.  That was during the first Gulf War, and my interest never waned.  At 16 I handed out campaign literature at a polling location in Martinsburg, PA, supporting soon to be President Clinton and other Democratic candidates while doing volunteer work for the AFL-CIO.  Martinsburg is a farming community of about two thousand a short drive away from Altoona.  It is a beautiful rural area, and like the vast majority of rural Pennsylvania, it is very conservative.  Still, people were polite to my fellow volunteer and I, with a fair number of Republican voters striking up conversations with the two of us, not to debate politics, but rather just to say it was nice to see young people taking an interest in the nations system of government.

Even after I started to fill my veins with poison, I held onto my interest in politics.  For those of you who have never seen the inside of a cell, believe me when I say you die a million little deaths when you are locked up.  One such death that I will never forget was the re-election of King George the W.  It haunted me, with my mind overwhelmed with unrealistic “what-if” scenarios; would the result have been the same if I would have been working the phones, going door to door, handing out literature, putting up signs, casting my ballot instead of being locked away?   Rationally, of course I realized that one more person working against Bush wouldn’t have swung the election; that Kerry was a flawed candidate who wasn’t prepared to deal with the dirty tactics perfected by Karl Rove’s merry men with the character assassination of John McCain during the previous election cycle.  And of course, perhaps most importantly, I didn’t live in Ohio anyway.

It is a subject that I love.  It fascinates me, the strategy, the tactics, the struggle for a majority of votes for the honor of representing a portion of the population, in order to work for the good of the nation.

So what went so wrong?

Yes, I am a registered Democrat.  For the longest time, I was an independent.  I switched in order to vote in primary elections.  Do not, however, equate my registration with blind allegiance to the party line.  As much noise as Fox News and other conservative media outlets may make about the socialist, liberal, communist tendencies of the Democratic party, the truth, as any liberal realizes, is the party has been steadily moving to the right for years.  Obama’s stance on executive power is Bush’s wet fever dream; one that Bush never would have dared to reach for.  The Affordable Care Act is not socialized medicine, it is a Republican plan that benefits private insurers.  Mitt Romney is the plans primary creator.

It is not a secret why the Democratic party is drifting right.  The party knows that it has people like me by the short hairs.  When it comes to election day, what am I going to do?  Vote Republican?  No, the Democrats know that as long as they keep supporting equality and freedom of choice, we have no where else to go, no matter how repulsive the rest of the platform becomes.  And every time the threat to break away, to cast our votes off to a third party becomes more than idle whispers, two words are enough to whip us back into line; “Ralph Nader.”

While the party has us, lock, stock, and barrel, they have every reason to swerve to the right.  Because for the party as an entity, it is not about governing policy, integrity, morals, or a idea of how the nation should be run.  Rather, it is about power; taking control and keeping it in anyway possible.  As the GOP continues their self-destructive game of “I’m more conservative than you,” the moderates and the independents are suddenly without a political home.  And since, for the Democrats, our stance on the issues is no where near as important as holding on to power as long as possible, a rightward we will go, to pick up those now abandoned.

I’ve said it many times here at the blog.  I want a strong Republican party.  I do not believe a two party democracy can succeed without two strong parties.  You need an opposition; conflict clarifies.  Our policies should be battle hardened, not rubber stamped.  The current GOP, no matter what their media bubble tells them, is currently committing suicide.  The only question is if it is a murder/suicide as well, with the victim being our method of government.  For what can a two party, representative democracy do when one party refuses to acknowledge the results of national elections?  When one party makes obstructionism their primary, in fact, only tactic?  When one party is so opposed to the very idea of government, that they are willing to hold the very government hostage as a bargaining chip?  Where they are willing to harm the nations credit rating and the nations image on the world stage to score political points?

No matter what the election result, no matter what the polling data, no matter what, the answer for the base of the GOP is always the same; the candidate wasn’t conservative enough.  The elected members of the GOP who are willing to work across the aisle are put on notice; the Tea Party is watching you.  Compromise, and get primaried.  There is no room for working together for the good of the nation any longer.  Ideological purity trumps all.  Stories like this latest example used to make me laugh.  From the Salon:

The powers that be in the Arizona Republican party are none too happy with renegade John McCain who, in their eyes, appears to have gone soft. On Saturday, the party formally censured the senator, citing his “insufficiently conservative” voting record and support for issues “associated with liberal Democrats,” like immigration reform and Obamacare.

State party spokesman Tim Sifert told the Associated Press that the resolution, which characterized McCain’s record as “disastrous and harmful” to the state and nation, was approved during a meeting of state committee members in Tempe. “Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders,” it read. “Today we are faced with both. For too long we have waited, hoping Senator McCain would return to our Party’s values on his own. That has not happened.”

There was a time, not too long ago, where this story would bring forth nothing but snark.  I would make some quip about McCain going rogue, point, laugh, and perhaps make it into a “Wait, What?!?”  This is John McCain, after all.  The GOP’s presidential candidate in 2008, responsible for raising Sarah Palin to national prominence, forever altered by the smear campaign ran by Bush and Rove in the run up to the 2000 election.  Before that fateful primary season, McCain was seen as a renegade by many, one who would put the good of the nation ahead of the good of the party.  But that was a long time ago.  The current McCain is a bitter hawk, and while still a member of the old guard, hence willing to cross the aisle to pass legislation, he hardly deserves to be censured for his voting record.  The GOP is begging for comparisons to past fascist parties with these purity tests.  And once I would have found it hilarious.

Now, just sad.  Why?

Because in a way, the far right has already won.  Sure, they lost on some issues.  The current GOP may never be able to win a national election again unless they change their policies.  The farther to the right they run, the more moderates slowly back away.

But after the 2010 elections and census, they have gerrymandered the House into practically permanent GOP control, and wrapped up more than a few states in the same way.  While Pennsylvania has been a reliably blue state in the last several national elections, the newly drawn districts leave me with little hope that the GOP will ever not control the state congress.  With the state congress wrapped up, they are free to work on ways to subvert the will of the people statewide.  Voter ID, which was admittedly a naked attempt to turn PA red in a national election, has been defeated in the courts, but that is not the only threat to democracy in PA.  The latest GOP lovechild is a plan to split the electoral votes by congressional district, a plan that would hand the majority of PA’s electoral votes to the GOP candidate every election, even with the Democratic candidate carrying the state as a whole.  None of this is about ideological purity.  It is all about the same sickness that the Democratic party suffers from; a desire for power, and once power is achieved, a desire to hold onto that power no matter the cost.  How many times a day  do you hear about the GOP complaining about how much money the Government spends?  Yet how much tax money was spent by Gov. Corbett in an attempt to disenfranchise majority Democratic voters through voter id?  Remember, they admitted it was a political partisan move.  They also admitted that there was no problem with in person voter fraud, the only type of voter fraud Voter ID laws would help stop.  In order to halt a non-problem, so honestly, in order to gain a political advantage, Corbett and the state GOP was willing to spend tax dollars on an deceptive ad campaign touting the new law even after the courts put it on hold, and spent tax dollars indiscriminately to attempt to defend the law.  Ask yourself, ideologically, is that what the GOP thinks government should be spending your money on?

And even if they fail with voter id, which it appears that they will, and if they fail with plans to split electoral votes by their own gerrymandered district lines, which appears to be a non-starter, hopefully, they can still claim at least one victory.

By venturing into the land of batshit insanity, by jumping multiple sharks, by making ideological purity a requirement in the party, they have pulled the nation as a whole farther to the right than I ever could have imagined.  The further they slid into insanity, the more the center moved rightward.  The more rightward the center drifted, the Democrats were quick to claim the vacated space.

Until now our landscape is one where a horrible right wing solution to the healthcare crisis is now considered “socialist” by a depressingly large portion of the electorate.  Where a President who illegally spies on the citizens of his own nation while using drones to kill and maim not only enemy combatants, but “enemy” civilians as well is routinely smeared as a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

If they call their own policies from 10 years ago communism now, what reaction would true progressive ideas face?

What happened?

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3 thoughts on “Once I Found Items Like This Amusing….

  1. I wish I had something insightful to say. All I can do is sigh, shake my head and agree with you. I am almost 70 years old, I never thought my country would look like this. 😦

  2. Can the Republican party ever become a “strong” serious party with people like the Teabaggers behind them, spouting inane BS in the name of Right-wing policies?

    The other day my cousin posted something on Facebook (via “The Tea Party”) that had a quote about strengthening gun regulation, then you see that the quote is from Adolf Hitler, then, of course, it says in big letters underneath, “LIBERALS… following Hitler’s lead” and I’m sitting here thinking, “You are crazy. This is logically fallacious in so many ways. Why not attack actual policies currently in place in a logical, rational way? That would make you and your party look so much better than spouting nonsense BS like this.”

    Not to mention, it’s useless to try and have an actually thoughtful and intelligent debate with someone like this… ugh.

    • Politics in America has morphed into something resembling a sporting event, with the electorate playing the role of the devoted fans. The rise of media outlets tailored towards those of a specific *whatever* just adds to the difficulty in finding a intelligent discussion on any issue. Hell, the only reason I subscribe to the local fishwrap, other than my fetish for newsprint, is the paper’s conservative leanings. Reading the Mirror insures conservative editorials will be in front of my eyes; when the Mirror doesn’t print its own opinions, they run columns by national conservative pundits It is far too easy now to get all your news from sources selected not to inform, but rather to confirm your own personal world view.

      I often wonder what American history would look like if instead of the daily paper and later the network evening news, entities like Fox News and conservative talk radio provided the population their news during the great wars? What kind of spin would Bill O’Reilly have put on Pearl Harbor? During the civil rights movement, would he have called MLK a “pinhead” and cut his microphone, as he does to so many of his guests today? Think of how divisive Vietnam was to the nation. Now imagine if Fox News was in existence at the time. Scary, no?

      Have we forever sacrificed rational political discourse at the altar of demographics and advertising revenue? Our nation was founded in part on the ideas of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, yet somehow I do not think the “Fair and Balanced” reporting of Fox News is what the framers envisioned as the country’s major news source. Honestly, I am not sure why I even include the “Fair and Balanced” part, in or out of quotation marks. Sure, when the channel first launched they would attempt to maintain a straight face while swearing they were an unbiased news organization, but now? Do they even try to hide their agenda? The “Fair and Balanced” tagline is as much of an inside joke as a serious catch phrase. The only legitimate question to ask is whether Fox News is the propaganda wing of the Republican party, or if today’s GOP is the political arm of Fox News.

      For those of you of a conservative mindset, do not put words in my mouth here. I am not claiming to have an answer to the problem. I am still a free speech absolutist; as much as Fox and Friends makes a daily mockery of objective journalism, they have every right to present their opinions to the public. And I am no hypocrite on the issue either; I understand that many on the left surround themselves in progressive media bubbles as well. As I have already said, that is why I strive to get my news from multiple sources, and make sure to check what the right is saying about what I consider important stories. That being said, I do not know how anyone could objectively look at the media landscape and come to the conclusion that it is anywhere near as bad on the left as it is on the right.

      We have reached a point in our national dialogue where facts no longer matter. Where the GOP, Fox News and right wing talk radio has become Dr. Frankenstein, unable to control what they themselves have created: a xenophobic party “base” that has been fed so much vile, disgusting propaganda that it is hardly any wonder that they see compromise with the Democratic party akin to treason. Seriously. Think about it. For one moment, imagine that the people you trust on the national stage are the Rush’s, the Hannity’s, the Coulter’s.

      First off, you can only believe what you hear though conservative outlets. After all, the first myth hammered home over the years is the liberal control of the media. Any law pertaining to firearms is the first step towards the liberal fascist goal of outlawing guns. You can not give an inch on this issue, because they want to take everything. Abortion is murder There can be no dialogue on the issue of murder, and after all, those sluts are just killing their unborn children as their preferred method of birth control. You know, it is all part of the feminists plan to emasculate men. First the harlots find a way to separate sex from procreation. This allows them to use their body to get whatever they want, until they decide they want a child, and then they can blackmail whatever man they choose as the father into a lifetime paying child support. After spending 10 to 20 years in a job meant for a man. God intended women to be man’s helper, man’s partner. When the man got home, the wife was supposed to be there, waiting for him. Instead, that woman is now competing for the same job, and since she has minority status, she gets the nod instead of him. They don’t want equality, that is a smokescreen, they want dominance. You probably think I am exaggerating now, but listen to one of Rush’s “feminazi” rants and then check out a few of the fine Christian pastors RightWingWatch finds, then tell me I am exaggerating.

      It doesn’t stop there, of course. You know as well as I do that it goes on, and on, and on. Welfare only goes to minorities. All welfare recipients are living the high life on the backs of the white working class. Sure, slavery was wrong, but get over it already. Everyone has the same chance to succeed, the people born poor in the ghetto deserve to end up in jail. Homosexuals are sinners who should be put to death. If my kids see a homosexual, they are magically going to immediately become a homosexual. After all, it is a choice. God forbid gay marriage becomes legal, roving bands of gays will be kidnapping men all over the nation to drag them off to gay marriages. Any new government program to help people in need is socialism, if not communism. They are all about taking the money of the working man and giving it away to single mothers and black crack smokers. Your kids science text book is full of lies created by the godless communist liberal fascists in order to convince children that they are not the special creations of the living GOD. Who teaches them this swill, along with the lies of tolerance which really means the criminalization of Christianity? Public school teachers, of course. Who are part of a union, and we all know unions exist only to hurt honest businessmen. You can’t even trust your doctor, since he is trying to give your 11 year old daughter the HPV vaccine and turn her into a slut. My friend is a conspiracy theory guy, and I always thought he was a little nuts until Barrack H. Obama “won” his second term in office. I mean, they guy from Unskewed polls said Romney was going to win in a landslide. Hell, you were watching Fox News just like I was on election night. No one could believe the results, and I think that is because….well….anyway. I mean, isn’t it obvious that we have a Muslim liberal fascist nazi in the white house? Look, I just want what the founders wanted. A good Christian president who represents every American, not just the black ones. And I want a small government as well, with no more entitlements. I just want my medicare and my Social Security when I am old enough, and I want the government to make sure there is a police man on every corner, a jail in every town to house the lawbreaking druggies, and a strong military on the world stage. They should get off their ass and fix the roads that need repaving, and the bridges that need fixed as well. That should be easy to obtain, all they have to do is cut taxes.

      Am I claiming that everyone on the right believes all this stuff? Of course not. But I am saying that I know enough self described conservatives who hold a few of the above beliefs to feel comfortable making my point.

      The facts are not important any more. Polar bears can drown every day for lack of sea ice, but as long as there is one scientist out there, no matter who is signing his paycheck, who is willing to claim climate change is a hoax, or misrepresent a published paper, or muddy the water in any possible way, that is the scientist that will be in the spotlight shown by the right wing media circus, and the other outlets will dutifully spin the lone, conflict of interest addled scientist with a specialty unrelated to the issue into a serious scientific controversy. After all, that is what gets the ratings, right?

      After so many years of having everything spelled out for them in black and white, with nary a shade of grey in sight, is it any wonder the GOP’s base thinks compromise is equal to treason? The Democratic party, liberals, the opposition, has been tarred as socialist, communist, anti-American, unpatriotic, fascist, religion hating elitist baby killers. To a healthy portion of the base, the Democratic party is run by Old Scratch himself. Of course they try to primary moderates.

      I will be honest. With today’s political climate, I am shocked that there are not more terrorist attacks by the far right. Planned Parenthood is routinely demonized as this era’s concentration camps.* All Muslims are painted with the same radical Sharia craving brush. Tolerance and equality make strides forward daily, constantly making the one remaining acceptable prejudice unacceptable, no matter how much the local pastor swears it is an abomination unto GOD. Schools teach that Genesis is a myth and that humans are nothing but animal. While it seems there is a horrible story in the news daily, I am constantly thankful that it is not as bad as I imagine it could be.

      The only answer to the problem, I fear, is the passage of time. Once the box is open, there is no shoving the contents back inside. No one expects that Fox News will altruistically decide to start taking “Fair and Balanced” seriously. Laws could be passed, with a sympathetic Congress and White House, laws perhaps that could hold programs that claim to be non-fiction responsible for statements they make that are provably false, but my stance on the freedom of the press and of speech would not let me back such laws. They would be a great safeguard on our democracy, if they were enforced impartially. But the damage to the first amendment that could be cause by such laws if enforced by people with an agenda? Any statement questioning those in power could be painted as untrue, effectively installing a state censor on the press. Education is our greatest weapon, but that being true, public education is the target of countless slings and arrows. Our public education system is tragically underfunded, reduced to nothing more than daycare in many locations. The schools that have adequate funding are not out of danger. They have to deal with parents who want to ban either books, human reproduction, or all of biology. School boards more interested in instilling religion than education. Of course, the parent can always decide to circumvent the whole system itself; replacing the dozens of college educated teachers, many with extensive training in complicated subjects, not to mention their training in how to educate young people, and the classrooms full of fellow students, all individuals with a lesson to teach, instead with mother (or father) who knows best.

      Time is the one opponent that they can not defeat, and it is the one enemy they fear the most. Demographics change with time. The racist “southern strategy” can not be successful in a nation where whites are a minority. Legal discrimination of homosexuals is not possible when even the youth in the evangelical fundamentalist Christian churches see nothing wrong with being gay. Time is such that even living in a conservative area, I have to do a double take when a co-worker or acquaintance expresses disapproval towards an interracial couple. While we are far from a color blind society, I know a biracial couple doesn’t even register in my mind, or in the minds of many people I know. In 20 years churches will be falling all over each other trying to take the credit for promoting marriage equality.

      Time will first render the GOP base irrelevant nationally. Thanks to gerrymandering and rural districts they will stay competitive, if not in control of, the House, and certain state governments will always be in their reach. That will never happen though, because once irrelevant on a national level, it is only a matter of time before the party reinvents itself. The base will start doing more harm than good, and either the conservatives will form a splinter group, or more moderate factions in the GOP will form their own party.

      Of course, with climate change and similar issues, time is the one thing we do not have.

      And people wonder why politics started to depress me. 🙂

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