Column for 20 May, 2007
“A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.”
It’s getting harder and harder to watch the ongoing degeneration of the Republic Party from a national political organization into a gang of delusional paranoids with poor personal hygeine living in their mother’s basement and darkly discussing conspiracy theories while wearing tinfoil hats. As President Bush’s poll-numbers plummet into the Richard M. Nixon Memorial Sub-Basement, the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt is being dragged right along with him, an albatross tied to an anchor, increasingly out of touch with the majority on issues all across the board. And the smaller they get, the meaner they get. When the Democrats were shoved to the sidelines during the Reagan Years, the party turned inward in long period of navel-gazing, self-doubt and depression, emerging as Clintonian “New Democrats” in the 1990’s. The Republicans, on the other hand, have gone from an embarassing cult of personality formed around (of all people in the universe) George W. Bush, to now a gang of authoritarian fetishists, consumed with wars the overwhelming majority of them would never deign to fight in, and with using shabby Third World dictatorial tactics to grind down anyone who dares oppose them. Consider, for example, the fanatical push for “Voter ID,” a bill cooked up ostensibly to solve a problem that does not exist (widespread voter fraud), but in reality is merely an excuse to damp down turnout by people Republicans don’t like, namely minorities, the rural poor and elderly people. Their real motivation was (perhaps inadvertently) revealed at a town hall meeting with Rep. Todd Smith (R-Bedford) who, when confronted by a constituent who demanded to know why he would vote for such an abomination to democracy, replied, “I did it because I’m Republican.” Further support can be found in US Attorneys fired for failing to pursue frivlous voting fraud claims, and Attorney General Greg Abbott harassing elderly citizens in a clumsy attempt to dredge up some sort of justification for the bill. The Republic Party’s cowardly fear of free and fair elections was previously demonstrated by Tom DeLay’s use of his boot-licking sycophantic sock puppet Tom Craddick to punish rural voters (for daring to prefer Democrats) through the creative use of a racist redistricting scheme. Now David Dewhurst, in his lust for the Governor’s Mansion, resorts to such contemptible tricks as trying to rush through passage of the Voter Suppression Act while the Democrats were short-handed, Senator Carlos Uresti being sick and momentarily off the floor. Dewhurst was called to account for this ham-handed stunt by Sen. John Whitmire, who may have well driven a stake through the heart of this assault on liberty (especially after Dewhurst issued, then denied, then retracted, a screechingly over-the-top letter in reaction), and incidentally may also have redeemed himself for selling out the state on the Great Redistricting Walkout. On the national front, the GOP has shrunk so far into irrelevance, and is now so beholden to it’s shrinking base, that whether or not one “believes” in biological evolution is now apparently an ideological litmus test for presidential candidates. Bear in mind this is the same party that includes State Rep. Warren Chisum, last seen passing out flyers denouncing the Copernican Theory (the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice versa) as part of a Jewish conspiracy “that has been at work over many centuries implanting the incredible evolution myth about the origin of the Universe, the Earth, and Mankind.” Did you watch the second Republican Presidential debate? If you did, you could have watched as the crowd cheered and roared its approval of non-veteran candidates like Rudolph Giuliani who supported the use of torture, but sat on their hands in stony silence as the only candidate who has actually experienced torture, John McCain, explained that he was against it. So being against reality and for torture are what the GOP “base” demands in a nominee? And these are the candidates to replace a President whose sheer visceral contempt for the rule of law is revealed to be more and more pathological every day? Clearly, these are people who do not think like us. So how low can they go? Hard to say. It is, of course, a million years until November, 2008, but it seems increasingly likely that the GOP is heading for a historical beating. If that happens (and keep in mind that I’m the guy who predicted the big John Kerry landslide of ’04), then the Republicans have a hard choice to make: will they be a for-real grown-up party of conservatives or will they become a permanently irrelevent side show, what Theodore Roosevelt called “the lunatic fringe,” dominated by neo-fascists and blasphemers preaching a doctrine of war, greed and intolerance completely unrecognizable as anything approaching Christianity?