–An Essay by Member William
There is this oft-related, but thoroughly naive theme that runs through too much of the electorate. It is the “why can’t we all get along?” mythology. Poll after poll will show that the respondents want the two political parties to work together; that people do not like political conflict. That may be an admirable notion in theory, but it is fanciful and actually harmful when superimposed over the current political realities.
Of course there have always been differences between the two political parties. Unlike most of Europe, America has essentially had a two-party system since the 1860’s. In that sense, it has become a zero-sum game; if one party wins the white house, the other party has lost it. But the checks and balances system put in by the nation’s founders has provided for the possibility of balance, even if only one party can own the presidency at one time. So of course while there are always differences, it is in theory possible for the two parties to work together on some matters, and move the country forward. And there is the concept of “the loyal opposition,” where decent people of either party can make their case; which can ultimately lead to some kind of compromise from the synthesis of two differing views and even agendas.
That is how it is supposed to work. And we can all remember some periods where there were Republicans who were essentially decent people who put forth ideas that we Democrats might disagree with, but could reasonably debate with them about. For me, it was always a source of great disappointment and upset when the Republicans triumphed in an election; but I never felt that we Democrats could not bounce back in the next election; and I never really thought that the Republicans would destroy the country in their term of office. Usually, of course, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, so there was that check and balance in place, although the area of foreign affairs was less susceptible to congressional balance, so that was always a concern. But politically there was an ebb and flow, fits and starts, as the social pendulum would swing, and then usually be somewhat corrected, before swinging again.
That all started to change in the late ’60’s, particularly as a result of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” which sought to take advantage for the Repubicans out of the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The Democratic “Solid South” turned Republican, and has never turned back. There are states down there that the Democrats haven’t won for fifty years, and are unlikely to ever win. And in subsequent years, various degrees of southern conservatives or racists were joined by evangelicals who started to take over the party at the state level. This was written about in magazines like “The New Republic,” but none of us paid it enough attention. Then suddenly it seemed like many of the midwestern states such as Kansas and Nebraska were completely controlled by evangelicals. And the people the Republican Party were nominating for various state and federal offices became immensely more radical. I would not call them “conservative,” because what they espoused was not old-time conservatism, but a kind of extreme anti-government, anti-education, anti-science dogma.
People have written lengthy books on all of this. Suffice it to say that the Republicans of the last twenty years have in almost science fiction fashion, morphed into the most dangerous political force this country has ever known. With the rarest of exceptions, they talk alike, mouth the same ignorant platitudes, brook no dissent. They have turned politics into a kind of religion, where they are out to purge the nation of the unbelievers, burn their enemies to the ground in a righteous crusade. You can’t argue with them, you can’t discuss anything. They know that they are right, it is their religion. A few are actually opportunists who say these things because it can get them elected and wealthy. But most of them are reminiscent of the people who lined the streets of Tennesee in 1925, chanting against the schoolteacher John Scopes, who had the audacity to try to teach about evolution in the public schools.
What is so terrifying about such people is that you cannot get through to them in any manner. They will not compromise on any issue, unless they are absolutely forced to by not having enough votes. Even then, many of the people who like to call themselves members of the “Tea Party,” would prefer to have the Congress collapse, or the government shut down, rather than concede on any matter. How can there be any negotiation with such people? How can there be what the public ignorantly keeps saying that they want. “for the two parties to work together?” Have you ever tried to reason with a religious zealot or political fanatic? Imagine trying to deal with a whole Congress full of them.
I don’t usually provide story links, but I have included two here, which some may have read. They are both informative and chilling, as regards the fate of the Democratic Party. The right-wing Republicans have managed to create a landscape where they have almost permanent control of various statehouses. They have so gerrymandered the districts, that they cannot lose. And the Supreme Court rubber stamps all of it. Another word for permanent control of statehouses or Congress, is “dictatorship.” Another is “tyranny.” The entire framework of this nation’s political system is in serious jeopardy.
And yet there is a whole group of media people, many of them comfortably ensconced in Washington, who keep arguing for “compromise” and “conciliation.” Is it that they just want to be able to go to as many fancy parties as possible? Is it that they are so intellectually lazy, or are so conceptually limited, that they cannot see that the current Republican Party is not susceptible to persuasion, or any kind of rational negotiation? It is populated by extreme radicals, who every year become more and intransigent.
What is the agenda of the radical Republicans? No restrictions whatsoever on any form of weaponry. No unions. No Social Security or Medicare. No abortion. on penalty of death or imprisonment. No voting rights for people who might tend to vote Democratic. No minimum wage. No workplace protections. No restrictions whatsoever on any corporate activity, including pollution. No Food and Drug Administration. No Environmental Protection Agency. 1870’s social darwinism multiplied by all the decades since then.
And who is going to stop them in this holy crusade? People who keep thinking that we can negotiate or compromise with them; that they ultimately have the same goals that we do? People who talk about there being “no red and no blue states?” Political figures who give their House Majority Leader 98% of what they want, and then praise the Republicans for “compromising”? Those who for whatever reason, want to insist that “the Republicans are not our enemy”? If you are being attacked by an army whose members declaim that they will never surrender, they will not negotiate a truce, they will fight to the death even if the battle destroys everything around them, what can one reasonably do but fight them with the same fierceness?
I don’t like seeing politics as war. It is too disoncerting and enervating. But I am pretty certain that if the Democratic Party does not awaken to the terrible danger the radical Republican Party is posing, we will not be able to recapture the decency and progressivism of this country. Trying to act nice to them; praising them for nothing; thinking that you are some transcendent figure who can rise above politics or partisanship, has helped accentuate this situation. What the country desperately needs is someone to stand up and call out these people for what they are, which is right wing radical fanatics, who have to be defeated, and isolated from power.
Hillary Clinton is virtually the only national Democrat who is willing to actually fight the Republican hordes. Any Democrat who seeks to have her modulate that, is either woefully wrong, or has a personal agenda. A few more years of this mollifying of Republicans; getting your side pushed further and further back toward your own goal line, in the name of “compromise,” and there won’t be anything left to compromise about. Anyone who watched the so-called Benghazi Hearings, would have a clearer picture of what the Republicans are about, and what they are like. These are people who have to be politically eradicated, state by state, district by district. Of course we can’t get rid of all of them, but we can mount a full-scale charge against them. Or has too much damage already been done. have we lost too much ground? If Hillary Clinton doesn’t think so, then we should not, either. But she has to win the presidency, and she has to do it by as large a margin as possible, to help to bring in more legislators on the national and state level, to help her fight against the would-be tyrants at the gate of our democracy.
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