Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
Republicans need a new pledge: NO MORE TURNIPHEADS.
The primaries from Hell continue as the mediocre Mitt fends off reactionary Rick and nasty Newt. Another Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) closed last Sunday with more of the same brain-dead 19th century Libertarian-meets-“Christian” rhetoric that is to the party what ticks are to a dog.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin are the best that the Republican party can muster up?
In the Ray Bradbury novel “Farenheit 451,” Bradbury prophetically called the devolution of America. Television would draw us away from reading, from thinking, into a spoon-fed system that spasms around the latest fire that the boob tube’s talking heads serve up. Corporocrats from the Dead Billionaires Club (DBC) and their foot soldiers like Grover Norquist, Jack Abramoff flunky Ralph Reed and L. Brent Bozell III have devolved the Republican Party into a mindless array of extreme special interests, litmus tests and standards out of touch with the mainstream of America.
For a full-functioning democracy to be fully functional, you need a healthy, sane conservative party. We can no longer rely on a “vote the bums out” strategy because, as we have seen since the 2010 mid-terms, when these extremists come into power, promises made to the general electorate go out the window, and their agenda out of line with the mainstream gets put into play.
The problem with the Republican Party is that it isn’t representing a broad and very real centrist conservative viewpoint anymore. In “Is the Tiny GOP Prolonging Economic Woes to Political Gain?” we showed you the phenomenal defection rates from the Republican Party, which represents a little over 13% of the American public, while the Democrats, also defected from, still represent more than a third of the American public.
That 13% is like a “reduction” in cooking. It’s the strong flavors swirling around in there. Instead of a delicious whole, though, it’s a toxic ideological brew that increasingly doesn’t mix well:
Republicans have bypassed much of the jobs and economic legislation to focus on the anti-abortion, school choice, and anti-union crusades of their funders. Poll after poll show that the Republican Party’s dogma and policy is out of step with independent voters, a large chunk of whom used to be Republicans. Even amongst the religious, the GOP is not singing the right tune.
Take the current war against contraception and abortion, the front of which is now in Virginia, where Vice Presidential hopeful Gov. Bob McDonnell and his state Teahadis are poised to pass some of the most unconstitutional and invasive legislation seen since the early 1960s. Presidential candidates for the GOP ticket Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich all endorse the legislation. How in-step is that view?
Among the 43 million fertile women in their childbearing years in the United States, 89% use some form of contraception. 99% of American women 15-44 have used contraception at least once.  Contraceptive use among religious women is equally the norm, even amongst evangelicals. 68% of Catholic women use “highly effective” contraceptives. Surprisingly, a higher number, 73% of protestants and 74% of evangelicals do the same. 
The recent attempt at controversy by the Fox News crowd really isn’t either. 57% of Catholics polled believe that churches should provide contraception as part of their employee’s insurance packages.  That’s just two points shy of mainstream opinion on the subject. Only white evangelical voters are out of sync on the issue.
Abortion and contraception are huge issues in Republican policy and governance. The “personhood” anti-abortion legislation, identifying life as beginning at conception, which failed as a popular vote ballot initiative in Colorado and Mississippi is now taking a legislative try in hard-Right Virginia under McDonnell, who ispoised to pass two bills that sailed through the state’s hard Right House.
“On a 63-36 vote, the House passed a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound prior to abortion. That followed a 66-32 vote approving legislation that defines life as beginning at conception.”
The procedure, which cannot even be vetoed by a physician, is medically unnecessary. It will be required so that the state can say that it is involving itself in the process of women’s choices about their own bodies, which has no grounding in any valid legal standards and is as much a rape of Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark 1965 case in which the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case, by the way, involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives, another target of modern Republican dogma.
“I’m not pro vaginal probing,” joked Republican contributor to MSNBC Megan McCain on the Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday night. “I’m horrified by this bill as a woman, as a Republican woman I’m horrified… It scares me that a woman can be vaginally probed without consent or a doctor’s consent and I think this is completely radioactive for Governor McDonnell and I have no idea why he would go on, in any form, and say that he would pass it.”
Gay rights are another Republican conundrum. Many Libertarians and Republicans support them, seeing the consistency in keeping the government off of the backs of voters. Evangelical Christians, a “gift” of the Reagan era, do not. Gallup reported in May, 2011 that a majority of Americans (53%) believe now that members of the LGBT community should be able to marry their partners. An ironic 69% of Catholics also favor some form of gay marriage or civil union, with the majority 44%, favoring marriage for gay couples.
The Tehadis of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives are quiet now, going into the election year with a staggering 10% approval rating. They gridlocked the Congress last summer, though, holding the U.S. Treasury hostage over the debt ceiling and damaging our credit reputation in the world, by affecting the core of our credit rating: That we say it is good, and our politicians do everything to backstop that viewpoint (See: U.S. Economy 101 (in Plain English, with Humor!): How the GOP and the Media Are Shucking You).
During the debt-ceiling “crisis”, the biggest problem for Speaker Boehner was that his Teahadis were so ignorant of government finance and how the world-at-large is wired. The Ryan Plan, as it came to be called, was pilloried by credible economists on both sides of the aisle.
Meanwhile, the House GOP was dragging its collective knuckles muttering “government, bad.” Old schoolers like Boehner forced the freshmen into cram sessions to explain how the debt ceiling and basic national economics really work. They even tried to get the independent Congressional Budget Office’s chief Doug Elmandorf to explain it. Perhaps the secret of fire would have been a better first step.
Our credit, our standing in the world, were both downgraded more because it became clear that our government is infested with irrational and moronic politicos who put dogma ahead of compromise and the smooth function of government.
The blame landed on Congress, and Republicans in particular:
“More than four out of five people surveyed said that the recent debt-ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country. Nearly three-quarters said that the debate had harmed the image of the United States in the world.
“Republicans in Congress shoulder more of the blame for the difficulties in reaching a debt-ceiling agreement than President Obama and the Democrats, the poll found.
“The Republicans compromised too little, a majority of those polled said. All told, 72 percent disapproved of the way Republicans in Congress handled the negotiations, while 66 percent disapproved of the way Democrats in Congress handled negotiations.” 
So how did the Republican Party fall so far out of alignment with the mainstream?
If you read “I Pledge Allegiance to Grover Norquist” you know how moderates were purged from the party over a forty year period, and the wheels were put in motion to dismantle the government from the inside.
What also changed, though, over that same period, was the devolution of the intellectual underpinnings of Republican politics.
Modern “Republicans” are a new cross-bred Libertarian-Evangelical, part dogmatic pit bull, part tunnel-visioned beagle, part clueless yapping pomeranian.*
All of the “think tanks,” lobbying and support jobs followed the money as well. The Heritage Foundation. The Freedom Forum. Accuracy in Media. Moderates have little place in this universe. If you want to work in Republican political circles, you had best have a strong point-of-view, and a big set of blinders.
You have more than a generation of people who entered the working world to work in and around the government who were either bred to hate and dismantle government, or to use the government to achieve the narrow social agenda of their personal faith. They are not big on reason. They are easily controlled.
The Libertarian jihadists running the GOP these days know that their power lies not in the White House, but in keeping the House and Senate fueled with dogmatic morons. Watch this disturbing Norquist speech as he talks about his ideal: The rubber-stamp president, and his political marionettes run by proxy from ALEC where he and the other think-tank leaders craft legislation and hand it to their pliant Pinocchios.
Norquist, and the modern Republican hold the most Un-American of political views, spitting dead in the eye of the Founding Fathers whose mantle they wear like RuPaul dons a dress:
They believe that compromise, the glue holding this country together for generations, is weakness.
It is easy to espouse a point of view. It is much harder to see the other side’s take, and try to meet them half way. Ask President Obama. He’s missing limbs from his attempts at compromise. He didn’t realize he was dealing with crocks, and yes I spelled that as I meant it.
The Republicans need better thinkers, before they can rise to better politics. I disagreed wholesale with William F. Buckley, but at least he was not as intellectually dishonest as his modern-day counterparts.
The GOP needs better candidates too. If you think seemingly low-IQ jihadis like Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Rick Santorum, or grubby power grabbers like John McCain or Bendo the Romneyman are the best that the GOP has to offer, then the party really deserves to lose the respect and interest of the American people, and the Independents should put together a conservative party “team” that speaks to more than 1.3 in 10 people.
As a people, we need to change too. If you’re happy tethered to the tube 10 hours a day with your mind reduced to Ice Road Truckers and bitchy women behaving badly and then talking about it, the politicians will not bring their A game. They don’t need to. You’re easily manipulated, skimming the surface of life and getting none of what’s being done to you. Toothpaste or taking away your freedoms are sold as easily as a few ads and a pull of a lever in a voting booth.
The Occupy movement is on the right track. Demand change, no matter what your political stripe. We have the inalienable right to a functioning government. The Founders were at least smart enough to vest that with YOU, the of, and by and for the PEOPLE.
Pick up a copy of Fahrenheit 451. If you do nothing after reading this and it, then it’s a preview of coming attractions.
My shiny two.
* With deepest apologies to pomeranian fans who think their little darlings are Albert Einstein’s reincarnation.