Sunday, August 14, 2016

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."
To here:
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 mein 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."
Barry Goldwater
Republican Convention, 1964
Extremism in the defense of Librium
I suppose the genesis of the present Tea Party craziness can be traced to Goldwater's acceptance speech at that long-ago convention in the summer of 1964 - which I clearly remember watching on TV with my dad. In the month before I turned six, I was not the incurable political junkie that I am today. The only thing I really knew about the American political situation in that moment was that our handsome and young president had been shot and killed sitting next to his wife the year before. I only happened to watch that speech as it was taking place because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was at that convention that the mob of true believers turned on the broadcast news media with such vehemence, for a few minutes NBC's Chet Huntley and David Brinkley feared for their lives. It was that kind of year.

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).

In 1964, American conservatism found itself at a perilous crossroad. This was Goldwater's second attempt at the White House. He had gone for the GOP nomination four years earlier and gotten stomped badly by vice-President Richard Nixon. You see, in 1960, the American people weren't quite ready to swallow the right wing's poisoned tonic. By that time in history, the middle class in this country was thriving - and they wanted to continue to thrive. They were not-at-all sold on an ideology that only benefitted the super wealthy and corporations. No, the conservative movement in 1964 was stuck in he mud; it needed a little something more to capture the hearts and minds of the people. A month before the Republican convention, President Johnson signed into being the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A voting rights act was sure to follow. It was at that moment that a huge light bulb went off over the movement's head: Fear! They concocted an issue that had worked beautifully for Southern Democrats for well-over a century:


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.

The Trickster
Four years later, the Nixon Gang were a tad more subtle. Instead of overtly appealing to the racism that was, sadly, inherent in too many Americans (then as now), Nixon's slogan was "law and order". In the wake of the murder of Martin Luther King in April of that year, American cities (almost exclusively in the North) exploded in violence. White America had been shocked to their core at the sight of hundreds-of-thousands of "angry negroes" taking it to the streets. In 1968 the American electorate took the bait and swallowed it whole. Most of them eagerly signed on with Nixon over the more-liberal Hubert Humphrey. It was an electoral choice the country would bitterly regret within six years - but that's another story for another day, boys and girls.

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 campaigns of 1980 and 1984, in addition to the subtle racism that had worked so well for them in the past, the Grand Old Party's new gimmick to campaign on was "moral values" (or "family values"). The Republicans, it would seem, had cornered the market on all that was good and pure in this grand and glorious land of ours - and a lot of Americans were silly enough to buy into the entire scam. With Reagan came the rise of the so-called "Religious Right". It's been steadily downhill ever since - into to sewer, in fact. The age of Trickle-Down, Supply-Side economics that the Gipper brought into being has only seen the decimation of a middle class that was, at one far-away time, the backbone of this doomed country. And still, most Americans revere the hideous old bastard. Go figure.

During the years of the "Reagan Revolution", it was my belief that Ronnie was as low as that party would ever sink. Forgive my naivetĂ©, 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 here?

I cannot assure you with any degree of certainty that Donald Trump will be the last Republican nominee; That disgusting party's death throes are almost guaranteed to be a long, drawn-out and amusing thing to behold. What I can say beyond very little doubt (and what I predicted in the very first piece I wrote on this site a decade ago) is that George W. Bush will be remembered, not only as the most corrupt and incompetent chief-executive in the annals of human mediocrity, but as the last Republican president. I don't believe there will ever be another one. The grand old party is over.

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!

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


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

A great read! Heather Cox Richardson is a first-rate historian.


At 8:00 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Tom Degan: "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."

Drinking and voting? [head shaking] You realize, don't you, if caught and convicted you would have had your voting rights taken away for three presidential cycles? Today the immediate penalties are less stringent, although the long-term effects are exactly what one fears.

Here's my campaign slogan for all those still clinging to the notion of less evilness: "Vote Your Unconscious -- Wake Up to The World You Deserve."

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Paul said...

The Democrats use to be the party of the racist. Seems the parties have switched ideology. One of our modern day sayings, if you are a racist, bigot, hater looking for a political party, the Republicans are your party.
Another saying that became true, "I have lost the South for decades."
Goldwater was obviously wrong, as the rest of the Republicans have been wrong since Goldwater. Extremism is a vice in a nation seeking liberty, freedom, inclusion, and democracy.
Republicans seem to confuse capitalism as the secret to our freedom, liberty, inclusion and democracy. Capitalists have never reflected that thinking. When Johnson lost the South, those Democratic racists were looking for another party and there were the Republicans, weakened by Goldwater, looking for new voters and willing to change the party to satisfy their new voters.
Hate for FDR, hate for New Deal policies, the Dixiecrat's, Goldwater, Nixon, it didn't happen overnight. By the time Reagan came along the change was complete. Reagan was a democrat who claimed the party (Democratic) left him, which seems dishonest since Reagan's political hero was Coolidge.
Goldwater's cry to extremists brought extremists in to the Republican party. Nixon's cry to the silent majority gave them a false sense that they were the ignored champions of true freedom and what freedom should be in America. Just as America was becoming more inclusive, the backlash was to encourage and strengthen the opposition.
It comes down to the American voter and what motivates them. Group think is a dangerous thing. Religion is a uniting force and also a dangerous thing. Many historians give Reagan's win to the moral majority, which seemed to equate it to the silent majority of a decade before. That turned out to be correct. As much as your generation was out in the streets trying to change things, Nixon won in 1968 and 1972. Then Reagan, Bush and another Bush.
The last true liberal Democratic president was LBJ, and the last true moderate Republican president was Ike. If politics are truly cyclical, we are due for a turn to the left. As Republicans have gone further to the right, they have pulled the Democrats to the right. Since capitalism doesn't seem to be satisfying the needs of the people, they will naturally turn to government to help make up the difference. It takes decades to change the character of the American vote and that new character won't be a duplication of an old American character vote. For sure Americans want a change, they just don't seem intelligent enough to know what kind of change and are gullible enough to latch on to demagogues. Making demagogues popular is also in the American character.
If none of this makes any sense, it's because this is my Sunday morning, hangover, rant.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Luke: "If none of this makes any sense, it's because this is my Sunday morning, hangover, rant."

Whew!...for a minute I thought you were way off topic. ;-)

At 12:26 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Trump warning of riots caused the riots in Milwaukee ?

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Trumps predicting riots caused the riots in Milwaukee ?

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...

'Black Lives Matter' Plans To Shut Down 'Elvis Week' At Graceland...

Did Trump's prediction cause this?

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Women Arrested for Assaulting Trump Supporter in West Hollywood

Blame Trump?

At 12:01 AM, Blogger woodenman said...

Chuckie, is that you? If so welcome back!

At 5:25 AM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Cluckie is back as "Majormajor"

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...

This article, Why Hasn’t the Republican Party Collapsed by Julia Azari, gives further insight to Tom's thread.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Why hasn't Cluckie told us what conservatives have done for the poor and middle class the last 45 years?

Why do conservatives love Trump for all the same reasons they claim to hate Obama?

Why is it OK for a conservative candidate to be in bed with Russia?

Why won't Trump release his tax returns if he has nothing to hide?

These and other questions, will be answered in tonight's episode of "Soap"!!

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

BTW, does anyone actually think Ailes was "fired for sexual harassment"? Fox would have given him bonuses for that.

No he quit his job to run Trumps campaign, and given his success with Bush I they couldn't have picked a better guy for the job.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Darrell Michaels said...

Mr. Degan, I do indeed share you incredulity regarding the seeming demise in how far the Republican party has fallen from Lincoln to the dangerous buffoon Trump.

Sadly, while many folks do indeed see the narcissistic Trump for whom he truly is and will refuse to vote for him... myself included... there are far too many that look past the lying and corrupt Hillary and offer their tepid support for her despite her pernicious behavior.

Yes, the GOP is a shadow of the once-principled party that it once was and is deserving of the fate it is rapidly heading for in this election. The fact is that so is the Democrat Party though. While it has often been counter to the constitution dating back to Woodrow Wilson's times, it has now become so corrupt in its dealings that I suspect a second Clinton presidency may very well usher in the demise of the Democrat party as well.

I pray that our nation will survive the vileness of both parties, but I have serious doubts. We are indeed reaping what we have sown.

At 12:42 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...


Why is she hiding?

Vacation or not, a hurting Louisiana needs you now, President Obama. Obama golfs with Larry David at Martha's Vineyard.

Remember how the haters blasted GWB when he just flew over NOLA?

Funny, huh?

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Majormajor makes a good point. Those red states do indeed need the federal government, and the rest of the country, to literally bail them out.

For the rest of the misinformed ABC News said:

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is defending the Obama administration's response to the severe flooding in his state.

President Barack Obama has received criticism for staying on vacation rather than traveling to Louisiana to see the damage first-hand.

But Edwards said Thursday that he's spoken with the White House daily and has received quick responses for each request he's made to the administration. He noted that FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate visited the state Tuesday and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was in-state Thursday.

Edwards said he is "not complaining in any way about our federal partnership."

He added that while the President can visit whenever he'd like, he'd prefer him to wait "a week or two" because such visits require local police and first responders to help block roads and provide security.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Yeah, it's pretty clear that "Majormajor is Cluckie.

After YEARS of "investigations and literally days at a time in front of congress, WHAT COULD SHE POSSIBLE HIDE?

Maybe she's too busy actually campaigning and SPEAKING IN PUBLIC ON A DAILY BASIS to do a "Press conference" which would serve no useful purpose.



Until you are wiling to answer simple questions put to you, why should we answer yours?

You aren't fooling anyone with the new name.

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Obama has FEMA actually taking care if business in LA unlike Bush, and a visit there at this point would only complicate things and you would blame him for allowing the "machine" to get in the way of rescue efforts.

It's not like he's going to allow tens of thousands to suffer in the Superdome claiming "I never knew they were there" even when CNN had them on TV three days straight.

No one said Bush should have been on the ground performing rescues. Our Problem with Bush was putting an inept lacky in charge of FEMA. Obama was also on Vacation when the disaster happened. Bush let as soon as he heard of the damage.

At 3:06 PM, Blogger finefroghair said...

I've stumbled, bumbled, and staggered
My eyes red, blurry, and haggard
I've voted high
I've voted drunk
But I would never
Vote Donald Trump

At 12:38 AM, Blogger Paul said...

The Chief of police asked Obama not to stop by. The Chief said it would take away his people from dealing with the disaster at hand.
The Chief also said that to Trump, but Trump just had to go grandstand, use a disaster for his political means, tie up police for his security and motorcade, and then quickly left after he got his evening news video.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...

Sources Luke.

Just googled both of your claims and nothing popped up.

"use a disaster for his political means"

Please, what was your take on GWB and the NOLA disaster?

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Remember how the haters blasted GWB when he just flew over NOLA?

Remember "Heck-of-a-Job" Show Horse Brownie?

Funny, huh?

At 6:40 PM, Blogger Mozart1220 said...

Obama had FEMA on the ground before the rains stopped. Bush left FEMA in the hands of an incompetent lacky who let tens of thousands languish for days in the heat with no food or water.

The last thing that place needs is a Presidential security squad marching in and taking over, using up valuable space and resources. I'm sure Obama will go there when the time is right.

Maybe you should look at your own house, those glass walls are pretty thin. I'm sure the starving, homeless, flood victims will enjoy the Play-Doh Trump was nice enough to bring them for his photo op.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Majormajor said...

HA HA HA, double standard much?

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Grettalulu said...

Excellent post, Tom. Absolutely excellent.

I fear you are truly prescient in your comment regarding how the Democrats from whom the Dixiecrats fled ARE NO MORE. We are left with a (possibly, hopefully) less bigoted party moving as though they were Republicans in a rush to take the last few steps toward merging the state and the corporations. We emerge from our cocoon of denial not as butterflies, but as full blown fascists. America now is so unlike Lincoln. We are governed by, and for those of mega-wealth and for the "Important People."

If I were younger, I swear on all I love that I would emigrate, knowing I was not leaving "America
Victoria Walker AKA grettalulu

At 12:12 PM, Blogger Grettalulu said...

Excellent post, Tom. Absolutely excellent.

I fear you are truly prescient in your comment regarding how the Democrats from whom the Dixiecrats fled ARE NO MORE. We are left with a (possibly, hopefully) less bigoted party moving as though they were Republicans in a rush to take the last few steps toward merging the state and the corporations. We emerge from our cocoon of denial not as butterflies, but as full blown fascists. America now is so unlike Lincoln. We are governed of, by, and for those of mega-wealth and for the "Important People."

If I were younger, I swear on all I love that I would emigrate, knowing I was not leaving "America."

Victoria Walker AKA grettalulu


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