Thursday, November 13, 2008

The GOP's Spiral Into Irrelevance


The euphoria I've been feeling since Election Day came to a dead halt yesterday when I was reminded of something that I hadn't even thought about before. The election of the first Black person as president of the United States is not the milestone event I had previously thought it to be. Think about it for a minute or two: What will Barack Obama be doing for the next four to eight years? The same thing that African Americans have been doing for over four centuries now - cleaning up the mess left behind by lazy and ignorant White people. What the hell's the big deal?
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Watching the implosion of the Republican party, which began with the election of the 110th Congress two years ago, has been a joy too delicious to even describe. And to think that it started one-hundred and fifty-two years ago with such good and honorable intentions. Their first convention in 1856 which nominated John C. Fremont of California and running mate William Dayton of New Jersey had one abiding purpose - the abolition of the inhuman institution of slavery. In hindsight, not an unreasonable goal by any stretch of the imagination. It is almost unimaginable that so barbaric a business could have continued to thrive over three-quarters-of-a-century after America's founding - a full eighty years after Thomas Jefferson put quill to parchment and wrote, "We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men [and women. My emphasis - so sue me!] are created equal". The best thing that came with the passing of the millennium eight years ago was the fact that the American people could now say that we were two centuries separated from the sin of human bondage. Maybe that was the milestone we needed to reach to finally wake up and face the dawn.

The Republicans would lose that election to Democrat James Buchanan, a man who, before our current-commander-in-disguise came along, was generally regarded by historians to be the very worst president in American history. Four years later, they nominated an obscure Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln as their standard bearer. He is today, rightfully, remembered as our greatest president.
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The Grand Old Party started out with so much promise. What the hell happened to it? Where did it go astray? How did it manage to devolve into its sorry, present day state?
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How does any political party go from the mountaintop heights of Abraham Lincoln to the Death Valley lows of George W. Bush? You just can't fall any further than that!
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On June 2, 2006, on the very first piece published on this site, I wrote the following:
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"Please stop soiling the memory of one of the greatest presidents in history by calling it, "the party of Lincoln". Don't ever call it that again. Abraham Lincoln's influence on the Republican party ended at exactly 7:22 on the morning of April 15, 1865 when he breathed his last breath."
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That pretty much sums it up. Let's face some nasty and undeniable facts here, folks. The G.O.P. has for many years been a haven for extremists, kooks and fools. In 1954, after the Democrats were able to retain control of the House of Representatives after a two year hiatus, President Eisenhower, a Republican, breathed a prolonged, sigh of relief. In private correspondence he would tell friends and family that he had found it impossible to work with most of the members of his own party. Remember, this was the era of Joe McCarthy.
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Until the late nineteen-sixties, the the ideological direction of the Republican party was mostly navigated by clear-headed statesmen of the Everett Dirkson, Thomas Dewey variety - Rockefeller Republicans, as they were then called. They were imperfect men. Most of their policies were questionable, if not awful, yet they were basically decent men. And, with the exception of Millicent Fenwick of New Jersey (who was the model for the Doonsbury character, Lacey Davenport) - they were all men.
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Since the large migration of disaffected southern Democrats in the wake of Lyndon Johnson's signing of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 respectively, the G.O.P has been hijacked by crazy people. You don't believe that? Two words: Sarah Palin. This is a person whose favorite sport is shooting defenceless wolves from low-flying airplanes. 'Nuff said?
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When Johnson signed those laws into existence, he told his aides Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, "We [the Democrats] have lost the south for at least a generation." He was right: A generation and then some. But the Solid South's habitual embrace of right wing politics and policy may very well have come to an end on Election Day 2008.
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This is probably a good thing....Probably? What am I saying?? This is a wonderful thing!!!
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If the Republican party is to survive into the twenty-first century, it is going to have to undergo an extreme, ideological makeover. It's a sure bet that had the Founding Fathers of that party been able to come back from the dead and witness the depth to which it has fallen, they they would have been working overtime for Barack Obama in the last election. And if they don't get their act together really soon, they won't survive. The posting from "The Rant" that I quoted above was called, George W. Bush: The Last Republican President. If that eventually turns out to be the case, I won't shed any tears over over the matter, I assure you.
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No, this isn't the party of Abraham Lincoln. Hell, this isn't even the party of Barry Goldwater! Toward the end of his life, Goldwater, a senator from Arizona who held the seat which is now John McCain's, was bemoaning the direction that the modern Conservative movement had taken - a movement he almost single-handedly bought into being with his run for the White House in 1964. In his day, he was known as "Mr. Consevative".
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Barry Goldwater would eventually learn the hard and bitter lesson that "extremism in the defence of liberty" was indeed a vice - a danger to liberty itself. At the time of his death, he was working on a book with John Dean but passed away before it could be completed. Dean eventually finished that book two years ago. Conservatives Without Conscience is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how and why the extreme Right have been able to seize control of the Republican party.
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And while we're on the subject of great Republican presidents (there have been a couple, believe it or not) this certainly isn't the party of Theodore Roosevelt. In 1912, four years after leaving the White House, he was denied the nomination by the Republican party power base after winning the primaries. Roosevelt bolted the G.O.P. that year and ran on the independent, Progressive Party ticket (or the Bull Moose Party as it was popularly known) During that campaign, he pledged a Square Deal and a living wage "for every man and every woman in the United States". Roosevelt believed - to his very core - that big business served at the pleasure of the people - not the other way around. That is why he is forgotten by the party he so ably and nobly served. That is why today he is virtually unmentioned in all but a few pieces of maverick Republican party literature. He has become, quite simply, persona non grata.

`These clowns have controlled America's national political dialogue since the advent of Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" during the campaign of 1968. It was during this period when the Nixon Gang was able, through the use of race baiting, to convince a huge segment of southern voters that he was on the side of "law and order", a not-too-subtle reference to the riots that had erupted in cities all over the nation following the murder of Martin Luther King. Their strategy worked better than they had dared to hope. Up to that point, the majority of southerners were Democrats. One-hundred years after the end of the Civil War, these jackasses still couldn't bring themselves to vote for the party of "that bearded bastard that freed the slaves". Nixon's scheme would turn out to be a blue print for their political campaigns for decades to come. The "Solid South" would remain solidly Republican for forty years - or at least until Election Day 2008.
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Mah! Mah! The ol' plantation sho' has changed!
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Does the election of President-elect Obama mean the certain death of the Republican party? Are you kidding me? My luck has never been that good. But of this you may be relatively certain: It is the death of the party as we've known it for the last three decades, that's for damned sure. The so-called "Reagan Revolution" is as dead as a door nail - deader than the Gipper himself. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
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Eight years ago, poll after stupid poll said that most of the people who voted for George W. Bush did so because they would have preferred to have a beer with him over the smarty pants, policy wonk, Al Gore. Sure! I would prefer to have a beer with Bush over Gore any day of the week - if only to smash the little thug upside his head with a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon. But I'll let you in on a little secret: I sleep much more soundly at night knowing that my president is an articulate, intelligent person. Imagine how troubled my slumber has been for the last eight years, knowing that the man with his finger on the nuclear trigger has the I.Q. of a half-eaten box of Milk Duds! It has not been easy, trust me. From this day forth, if the Republicans insist on nominating people with the intellectual afflictions of Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush - then the Grand Old Party is over.
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This country took a step forward nine days ago. It wasn't a timid, baby step, mind you, but a huge step forward - maybe even three steps forward. If that party continues to pander to their half-witted, reactionary "base", they'll never win a national election again. The time has come for thoughtful, intelligent Republicans (BREAKING NEWS: THEY'RE OUT THERE) to take back their party from the fools and racists who have run it and their once-great nation into the dirt. That is the only way they are going to survive. Otherwise, they're finished.
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A profound question just came to me: Why the hell am I giving advice to those knuckleheads? I don't know....I guess I'm just a sucker for lost causes.
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Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net
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SUGGESTED READING:
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What's The Matter With Kansas?
by Thomas Frank
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AFTERTHOUGHT:
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Today, for the first time since I started "The Rant" two-and-a-half years ago, Spell Check did not highlight the words "Barack" and "Obama" as errors. Now, that's what I call change you can believe in! That's progress, too.
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There are a mere sixty-seven days until the worst president since the invention of mud is out of the White House forever. Can you believe that George W. Bush and Thomas Jefferson lived in the same house? Even if it was two-hundred years apart, it's still very hard to fathom.

For more recent postings on this virtual viper's nest of left wing propaganda, please go to the link below:

http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

Cheers!

15 Comments:

At 6:03 PM, Blogger benrobfisher said...

It's interesting that the republican party was originally established to reisist the spread of slavery. They were civil rights activists and were responsible for the first income tax! The democratic party has evolved into what resembles the original republican party, and in turn, the republican party has evloved into a party of contrarian views. Elections are not won by staunch democrates or republicans. They are won by independants who tend to be moderates. Both parties will need to govern to the center if they want to survive.

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger Sharon said...

Outstanding post, Tom. Of all the bizarre assertions made by the GOP and its echo chamber media this election season, the most bizarre had to be that "MLK was a Republican." Yeah, maybe if he'd lived 100 years ago.

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

King a Republican! That's a laugh and a half!

Actually, the good Reverend was never registered with any political party. He never endorsed a candidate for public office. But his dad, Daddy King, sure did! The old man was ferociously anti-Catholic. But when the Kennedy brothers arranged for Dr. King to be released from a very tough, rural prison on the eve of the election (For a traffic violation!) Daddy King told reporters, "I've got a suicase full of votes and I'm delivering them to the steps of Senator Kennedy!

The old guy was a piece of work!

Thank you for the kind words, Sharon.

All the best,

Tom Degan

 
At 8:32 AM, Anonymous John said...

The GOP may be doomed, but the divide & conquer approach of the good 'ol boy system in DC is doing just fine. Our participation by voting does little more than prop up the facade of a democracy.

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Katy said...

Wow Tom. I just found your blog and it's so nice to see someone able to articulate everything I have just been thinking as I sputter and spit and foam at the mouth because I am unable to speak out of frustration and rage.

I cannot WAIT to read your archives!

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger ethical1 said...

It's taken generations to overcome racism. My father, an Italian who's grandfather experienced the hatred of being an immigrant, grew up in North St. Louis in the 30's when blacks were just moving into the neighborhood. Today, NSTL is a poor black community. I always compared him to Archie Bunker. I had a black friend in junior high school who came to my house to work on a school project with me and I thought he would kill him when he showed up at my door! Imagine my surprise this election when my 76 year old father told me we had to vote for this black guy or the country would be f*#cked!

I went to an integrated "bussing program" school in the 70's while living in a whitebread suburb. I felt my father was a fool for hating someone because they didn't match his skin tone knowing my own relatives had faced that very same sort of hatred.

As a single mother, I lived in a predominantly black suburb and experienced my first reverse racism hatred which astounded me. They hate us too! Yet, I was always safe in my neighborhood. Nobody hung nooses in my trees or spray painted my house with hatred. No one ever robbed me or raped me or tried to scare me. I learned first-hand just how shitty we treat this race. Their piss-poor schools and youth programs. In a way, I felt like I was the true minority, a poor white woman.

Now, with my children's generations, I am seeing a further evolving of unity between our races. There will always be a small population who is mind-screwed by outdated ideas, but the number of our youth who are shedding this type of opinion are growing each generation.

I know that perhaps my great-grandchildren, or great-great-grandchildren will study this long-lived philosophy of hate and look to their parents with eyes wide that such a thing was allowed to exist for a couple hundred years. Change is slow and is bred through generations. Slow, yet so very, very beautiful.

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

Tom,

I think you disparage mud. It is used around the world to make walls, houses, healing pastes, etc.

I believe George W. Bush is in the same category as Wood Ticks; do nothing except suck the blood out of others to spawn their own. It was our great misfortune his spawn included the likes of Cheney, Gonzolase, Wolfowitz, Pearl, Frumm, Rumsfeld, Rice, "Brownie" ad infinitum.

Mud is useful. Ticks are not. Neither was anything George W. Bush ever had the opportunity to be part of (or as in the case of his Regime-->to eat peeled grapes).

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger John Damiano said...

prairie waif....

What the hell was I thinking? Obviously, I wasn't thinking at all. Of course! How could I utter so disparaging a sentence in regard to so useful and noble a substance such as mud? And to use its name in the very same sentence as that of George W. Bush?!?!? I hang my head in complete and utter shame.

Thank you so much for pointing out this serious lapse in judgement on my part.

Cheers!

Tom Degan

 
At 6:51 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Obviously, I was signed on to someone else's account when I made that last statement. That's better.

Again, my apologies to mud.

Tom Degan

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

Tom,

Rodger that.

Waif

 
At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Blaine said...

Tom:

I remember at the convience store in Goshen on N. Church- you said" Isn't it great to see the implosion of the Republican party?" and I gleefully said "Yes!". Wow. How things have cascaded since then! I really wish I was in NY or Boston or Philly during US election night. History in the making!!! I saw a Washingtonpost cartoon of Bush standing in the WH, looking out the window at the crowd saying "Gee, they really thought I did a good job as president" Stupid shit Chimpy probaly believes that.

Well, Tom, the ascent is here. THings are changing, and for the better.

Blaine
I know there are good repubs out there. Alas, though, they are a dying breed. Why a party would want to champion itself as the party if ignoramouses, is beyond me.

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Blaine,

I recall the conversation indeed. And you make a good point- They have indeed presented themselves in recent years as the "anti-intellectual" party. As if lack of intelligence was a human virtue. If that were the case, George W. Bush would have wom the Nobel Prize in stupidity a decade ago.

Cheers!

Tom Degan

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

Tom,

With all due respect to Texas who didn't vote for George W. Bush.

As if lack of intelligence was a human virtue. If that were the case, George W. Bush would have wom the Nobel Prize in stupidity a decade ago.

THE FIRST PRIZE would have to been given to a group, those who were stupid enough to vote him into office.

After that?

We all were ROBBED.

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Republican party turned into the Republiklan party.

The party of Lincoln turned into the party of George Lincoln Rockwell.

 
At 9:35 PM, Blogger Fitzhamilton said...

Late comment. I think you're very wrong about the racial issues throwing the south to the Republicans. It's about sex and religion - that's a soothing fib that progressives tell the selves to explain their loss blue collar whites.

Remember that Carter took the entire south. He was the last Dem to win the white evangelical vote. Ford was socially moderate to liberal, and Betty was pro- ERA. Cater is born- again Baptist, the evangelicals thought he was one of them..

It's guns, gays and abortion and cultural snobbery that lose the left the South and places like Kansas, not racial prejudice. A big tent Dem Party flexible on those issues would win. See Stupak, Bart.

 

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