Column for 4 November, 2007
“Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey Your precepts.”
You want to know why the Republic Party is currently tanking so hard in the polls, with George W. Bush a Nixon-esque anchor dragging the entire barking menagerie down in flames with him? Well, I’ll tell you; but first, I have a confession to make. Don’t tell anyone, it’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but once upon a time, when I was young and foolish—well, there’s just no easy way to say this: I voted Republican. More than once. But I didn’t inhale. Yes, I know. I’m disappointed in me, too. But, you know how it is. You always tell yourself that it’ll never get to you. You think you can just read the literature or maybe go to a couple of rallies, and that’s all. You can quit anytime. Next thing you know, you wake up with a hangover, a guilty conscience and a Bill Clements bumper sticker on your car. But, to be a little serious for a moment, I haven’t voted for a Republican since 1994 and I never will again, even though there are plenty of Republicans I personally like and work with and even admire. And the reason why is ultimately the same reason the GOP is only slightly more popular than a super-resistant staph infection these days. First, there was the Waco Tragedy, where I watched Republican lawmakers and Republican pundits transform a child-molesting, cop-shooting, psychotic cultist like Vernon Howell into some sort of sainted martyr to the Second Amendment. Then, a year later, Oklahoma City. The worst terrorist attack on American soil, up to that time. In retrospect, we were pretty naïve to think nothing could be worse. And then it turned out that the “terrorist” was one of us. An American. An Army veteran, no less. Timothy McVeigh, that vicious contemptible waste of oxygen, too cowardly to live up even to his own twisted racist ideals, but an American. And an American deeply involved in the shadowy “militia movement” that was at the time spreading all across the country, particularly the South and West, like some societal canker sore. So what was the response of the Republican Congress to this atrocity? Did they demand limitless powers for the President? Secret prisons? Legalized torture? Outsourcing of torture to countries not hobbled by decency, morality, the rule of law or the Bill of Rights? Nope, first they voted down Bill Clinton’s proposals to monitor these loonies, proposals that were the equivalent of a “time out” compared to the loathsome “Patriot” Act. Their one and only concern was making sure that people didn’t get the wrong idea about militia members. So they invited these fat, pathetic, shambling paranoid losers to slither out into the daylight and testify before Congress! Wearing their freshly-pressed mail-order fatigues and ranting about secret weather control technology and CIA mind-reading satellites and other assorted idiocy with a microphone provided to them by the United States Congress. It would be as if Democrats had invited Hamas to address Congress after 9-11. It was the most asinine spectacle I have ever seen in my life, and remember, I watch Texas politics as a hobby. And that’s when I decided, right then and there, that I could never, ever cast a ballot for any party that would rub elbows with those kinds of lunatics just to win a lousy election. And for the last decade or more, it has only gotten worse. The GOP has gone from drinking the Kool-Aid to taking it via intravenous drip. Who are the public faces of the modern Republic Party? Ann Coulter, who has mocked 9-11 widows, called for the execution of her political opponents, the assassination of a Supreme Court Justice, and the terror bombing of newspapers which displease her. And yet she continues to excrete columns that are run daily in allegedly mainstream publications, including the one you are currently holding. Bill O’Reilly is a racist blowhard, a sexual harasser and a pervert, yet he has his own teevee show to prop up the GOP. Same for Glen Beck who is really little more than a gibbering lunatic, but he is invited on shows like “Good Morning America” to froth at the mouth as some purported “expert” on topics he knows nothing whatsoever about. Michelle Malkin, apologist for internment camps, who led the attack on a twelve-year-old boy with brain injuries who dared to publicly say something in opposition to the Grand and Glorious Great Leader. And that’s just the front lines, the guys you see and hear nearly every day. Behind them is a long dark parade of creeps who trade ever more outrageous fantasies of killing or imprisoning “traitors” (which means anyone who disagrees with the Republic Party) on radio stations all across the country. And below them on the totem pole of insanity is the Right-Wing Blogosphere, a hive-mind pack animal that is seldom (if ever) correct in any of its breathless assertions, but is never, ever in doubt. And that’s not even counting James Dobson, Pat Robertson and all the other apostate tele-Pharisees who have prostituted the Church to Mammon, even as “conservative” lawmaker after “conservative” lawmaker implodes in bizarre, hypocritical kinky sex scandals. Now, do all Republicans agree with these howler monkeys? No, of course not. Many Republicans I know are as repulsed by them as I am, but the lunatics are running the asylum. These are the people that represent the GOP to millions of Americans if only because this is all they see. Is it any wonder then that people in virtually every demographic are fleeing the Republic Party in droves? Is it any wonder that Democrats in Congress are even less popular than Bush only because they haven’t done more to shut Bush down? All political parties (including the Democrats) have their extremists, but when the media is completely and utterly dominated by so-called “conservative” organ-grinders, all in competition with one another to see who can be the most outrageous, obnoxious, offensive and downright stupid, and when the politicians in that party are too craven to oppose them for fear of alienating the tin-foil-hat base that is all that is left of the once-mighty Reagan coalition, this is the clear result. I have written before that American needs a conservative party and I stand by that. If the Republicans and America are lucky, then when (and it increasingly looks to be “when” rather than “if”) the GOP takes an electoral whoopin’ next year, hopefully they will take the opportunity to purge themselves of the barnacles of the Lunatic Fringe. Get back to the fundamentals that allowed the Republicans to dominate the Presidency since World War Two; smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation and a basic overriding respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. The question today is not whether any Republican presidential candidate can bring their party back from the brink in 2008 (because the answer looks increasingly to be “no”), the question is what Republican in 2012 can duct tape the shattered remnants of the GOP back into a national political force, not merely a laughingstock run by and for an irrelevant gang of marginalized and politically impotent extremists.