The GOP: Then and Now
Please, someone kindly explain to me how we went from there:
"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Fair scare and starving yours again, our feather-brained farce upon incontinence, a neo notion, deceived in Librium, and desecrated to the prostitution that all mine were cremated awful.
What a long, strange trip it's been.
From Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump. Would someone please explain to me how this happened? When one takes into consideration what that party stood for at its founding in 1854, how could it self-destruct this completely? What strange historical fluke could conjure a scenario where a political party, founded as it was on the noble idea that human beings should not be subjugated to slavery, destroy itself over the sight of its nation's first African American chief-executive? It's impossible to believe it one-hundred and sixty-two years later, but the Republican party once stood for something honorable and beautiful.
What the hell happened?
"Let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me further remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
Republican Convention, 1964
|Extremism in the defense of Librium |
The rancid legacy of the summer of 1964 is that, within less than a decade, most of the racist Dixiecrats who had controlled the Democratic party since before the Civil War would flee, like frightened mice, into the loving arms of the GOP. The "solid south" has been solidly Republican ever since.
I don't remember a thing about Lyndon Johnson's convention in Atlantic City the following month. That would have been the one to watch, particularly Bobby Kennedy's moving tribute to his slain brother that was preceded by an ovation that lasted nearly half an hour. It was such an emotionally powerful moment, the news media barely took note of the sudden death that same evening of legendary comedienne, Gracie Allen (She had been watching the speech at home with her husband, George Burns, when she was stricken with a fatal heart attack).
EQUAL RIGHTS FER NIGGERS??? NEXT THING YA KNOW, THEY'LL BE LUSTIN' AFTER OUR PRECIOUS, LILY-WHITE DAUGHTERS!!! NEVER, I TELLS YA!!! QUICK, ESTHER, HAND ME MAH SMELLIN' SALTS!
They couched their argument behind the mantra of "states' rights". It didn't work out too well for them. Although they managed to easily carry the old confederacy, the rest of the country, still stunned by the assassination of JFK, believed that a vote against Johnson would be a vote against their martyred president. It was the second largest landslide in American history up to that time.
In appealing to the racists and crazies in 1964, the Republicans were sowing the seeds of their own demise a half century later.
It was in the aftermath of the Nixon administration's implosion, the Republican Party being in such terrible moral and financial shape, that an obscure peanut farmer and former governor from Georgia was able to win the White House. Jimmy Carter found himself at the wrong historical place at the wrong historical time. Events not of his own making would soon overwhelm him. That made it easy for Ronald Reagan to seize the executive mansion in 1980.
For hopeless lefties such as I, it was mourning in America; although I didn't realize it until early the following day. You see, I voted for Reagan that year - much to my eternal shame and regret. My only defense is that I got pretty intoxicated on election night 1980. I learned a hard lesson that year: Don't drink and vote. I was stone-cold sober four years later. I've been so every Election Day since. I can just see myself getting hammered enough this November 8, and voting for the Donald just for laughs. No thank you.
During the years of the "Reagan Revolution", it was my belief that Ronnie was as low as that party would ever sink. Forgive my naiveté, but whom among us - in their weirdest and darkest dreams - could have possibly foreseen the utter catastrophe of an administration headed by a moron named George W. Bush? "That's it", I remember saying out loud on the day Dubya was elected, "That's it, they've reached rock-bottom!" I've been forced to eat those words yet again. Look where we've found ourselves sixteen years later. Bush is starting to look like the epitome of moderation by comparison. Pretty strange, huh? It kinda makes you wonder what they're gonna puke up in 2020.
There are voices from within the GOP, pleading for reform - but it's too late for that. "Reform" is something that should have been implemented fifty years ago. If the RNC apparatus succeeds in nominating a more centrist candidate four years from now, the crazies will form a third party, splitting the conservative vote for generations. They have been consumed by the weirder angels of their nature. That elephant has thoroughly imploded. Again, the question is screaming to be posed:
How did we get from there....to here?
On January 20 of next year, for the first time since 1857, one Democratic administration will follow another Democratic administration into the White House on Inauguration Day. I'm bitterly disappointed that Hillary Clinton is their nominee in 2016, but at least I'm comforted in the knowledge that America will survive her....I think.
A long, strange trip indeed!
To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party
by Heather Cox Richardson
No, this book was not written by some snarky, left-wing blogger, drunk on wine obtained from the schadenfreude vineyards, dancing gleefully over the GOP's funeral pyre (like myself, you may argue). This is a thoughtful and thorough, scholarly study written by a gifted and qualified historian. If you need to be reminded that that disgusting party once stood for something noble and proud, this book will do all the reminding you need. Here's a link to order it off of amazon.com:
A great read! Heather Cox Richardson is a first-rate historian.