Tag Archives: GOP

Your Assignment for Today…

…is to read Don Knebel’s most recent post at the Center for Civic Literacy blog.

You need to read the post in its entirety, but here’s the lead-in, to whet your appetite:

When some American reporters described the recent election in India as a victory for the Hindu Nationalist Party, an Indian comic tweeted that Indian reporters should begin referring to the Republican Party as the “Christian Nationalist Party.” The tweet was sarcastic, but nonetheless close to home. As the primary defeat of Virginia Representative Eric Cantor emphasizes, the current incarnation of the Republican Party is increasingly both Christian and nationalistic.

Don notes that today’s GOP is most popular among citizens with the least education and the lowest incomes, and posits that those are the Americans who are also the most fearful– those most threatened by immigration and social change in general.  He also notes that those citizens are also more likely to be Christians. (I would add a few descriptors: older, white, male, heterosexual…). And he concludes:

Ironically, the Republican Party, long considered the party of the rich, seems increasingly to be the party of the poor or at least the working poor. While Republicans continue to advocate for lower taxes and less government spending, because of the correlation between a state’s poverty and its likelihood of voting Republican, eight of the ten states most heavily dependent on federal assistance also voted Republican in the 2012 Presidential election. Who would have thought?

Read the whole thing.

Dr. Faustus, I Presume?

The term, “Faustian bargain” refers to the deal struck between Goethe’s Dr. Faust and the devil: the devil will do everything that Faust wants while he is alive, and in exchange Faust will serve the devil in Hell. (See also: selling one’s soul.)

Since the GOP’s capture by its extreme fringe, moderate Republicans have had to decide whether to leave office (Olympia Snowe), leave the party (Charlie Crist et al), stay and argue for moderate policies and risk losing to a True Believer (Dick Lugar et al) or accept the Faustian bargain by falling in line with the Tea Party agenda.

Indiana Representative Susan Brooks has fallen in line.

I knew Susan for over 25 years as an intelligent and reasonable individual. Then she ran for Congress, portraying herself as a far-Right conservative. Those of us who knew the more moderate incarnation chalked that up to a primary in which the candidates were trying to out-conservative each other, and assumed that once elected, she would be the moderately conservative person we’d known, but the new, partisan Susan Brooks has proved more durable–and disappointing.

In Congress, her party-line voting record has been so extreme, it’s earned her a 92% approval from Concerned Women for America–and you can’t get much crazier than CWA.

Now, she’s joined the “Select Committee” that will be investigating Benghazi for the 14th time.

The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen–a frequent critic of the Obama Administration–noted his bemusement over the GOP’s obsession with Benghazi.

I recognize it as a transparent Republican attempt to provide the party’s base with grist for its fantasy mill. Is it possible the Obama administration fudged the nature of the attack, refusing to apply the term “terrorist”? Yes, of course. Did the White House spinmeisters put their hands all over it? Could be. But is any of this so momentous that it has required 13 public hearings and now a select House committee that will delve and delve feverishly — for what?

Sometimes you have to choose: sell your soul to appease a rabid base, or refuse to play that game.

Congresswoman Brooks has clearly made her choice.


About that Dustbin of History….

Indiana culture warriors Micah Clark and Eric Miller cannot be happy campers.

I get Pew Research Center’s Daily Religion Headlines in my inbox. On Thursday, two headlines confirmed what anyone watching the American landscape already knows: gay rights has gone mainstream.

The first headline was from the Detroit Free Press. It read Major Michigan companies want to ban LGBT discrimination against workers. The story highlighted an effort by the Michigan business community to include sexual orientation under the state’s civil rights laws. Note, this isn’t the business community trying to block a mean-spirited measure; it’s an affirmative effort to guarantee civil rights.

The second was a headline from the Christian Science Monitor, in the form of a question. Gay Marriage: Is GOP Tiptoeing Away from Opposition? The article cited a Pew poll  that found 61 percent of Republicans under age 30 favoring the right to same-sex marriage, and it pointed to movement on the issue around the country.

  • Earlier this month, the Nevada Republican Party removed opposition to gay marriage from its platform.
  • On April 19, most of the Illinois Republican officials who tried to remove the state party chairman over his support of same-sex marriage lost their party positions.
  • On April 29, the Washington College Republican Federation announced it had passed a resolution calling for a change to both the state and federal Republican platforms’ stance on marriage to make them more “inclusive.”
  • In January, the New Mexico College Republicans agreed to drop language opposing same-sex marriage from their platform.

The day when Karl Rove could turn out the Republican base by demonizing GLBT folks is over. The party can elect people to Congress by dint of voter suppression and gerrymandering, but if it wants to elect a President sometime this century, the GOP will have to recognize that this battle is over.

The base (in both senses of that word) lost.

Rick Scott: All-Republican

I know that in sports, some players are “All Americans.” In Florida, Governor Rick Scott might be considered “All Republican.” He follows the script of today’s GOP (a party that bears little resemblance to the GOP I once knew and supported), but without the finesse that allows other Republican lawmakers to at least pretend they care about their constituents, and that their policies, however damaging, are based on good intentions.

Scott has been everything you’d expect from a sleaze who–before turning to electoral politics–admitt to 14 counts of Medicare fraud and paid the federal government more than $600 million dollars in fines.

A couple of days ago, the Tampa Bay Times issued a blistering critique of Scott, calling him the worst governor in Florida’s history. Titled “If He Only Had a Heart,” it’s well worth reading in its entirety, but I’ll just share the summary:

In Scott’s Florida, it is harder for citizens to vote and for the jobless to collect unemployment. It is easier for renters to be evicted and for borrowers to be charged high interest rates on short-term loans. It is harder for patients to win claims against doctors who hurt them and for consumers to get fair treatment from car dealers who deceive them. It is easier for businesses to avoid paying taxes, building roads and repairing environmental damage.

Scott may lack their talent to project a “kinder, gentler” facade, but there is an entire cohort of Republican governors operating from the same playbook.

Most, like Indiana’s governor, are much smoother, but the agenda is same.

That Scary Black Man in the White House

The Right Wing has its panties in a bunch again. According to the usual suspects, President Obama issued a National Defense Resources Preparedness executive order that gives him “unprecedented new powers to appropriate national resources.”

And what does Snopes have to say about this latest evidence of Obama’s usurpation of power and disregard of the law of the land?

The Executive Order itself is nothing more than a restatement of policy that has been in place for decades and grants no authority to the President or the Cabinet that they don’t already have under existing law.

It has become fashionable to attribute the constant hysteria over anything and everything that Obama does to the same hyper-partisanship that prompted “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” And certainly, partisanship bears some blame.

But let’s get real.

I detested George W. Bush. I disagreed with his naive “faith based initiative.” I was appalled when he took the U.S. into the Iraq War. A list of Bush policies that pushed me out of the Republican party would fill pages of text.

But here’s the thing: these were actual policies. When the man was first elected, I found him likable enough–I certainly didn’t detest him before he even took office. And most of the people I knew who came to dislike him intensely (and were probably unfairly critical from time to time) were also reacting to things the man actually did.

Obama hadn’t even taken office when the ugly emails and the out-and-out lies began. The racism that fuels talk radio and “birthers” and insane accusations is too thick and too widespread and too obvious to ignore. The absolute unwillingness of the Republicans in Congress to work with this President–even to implement programs that they originally proposed–has brought this country to a virtual standstill.

One result of this behavior is ironic: those of us who are repelled by what we see as unhinged, vicous and consistently unfair attacks from people who simply cannot come to terms with the fact that we have a black President find ourselves defending Obama even when he is implementing or continuing policies we would otherwise criticize. As I wrote to a good friend,  there’s plenty to legitimately criticize. I’m no fan of the NSA, drone strikes and several other policies this administration has pursued. But calling Obama lawless and a communist, making hysterical accusations about things that previous presidents–including the sainted Reagan– did routinely with absolutely no pushback is so manifestly unjust, people who are fair-minded get protective.

A Facebook post from a (very Republican) friend of mine is a good example of what I’m talking about:

Ok, let me get this straight: Ted Nugent–who during the 2012 campaign declared that if Obama was reelected he (Nugent) would either be dead or in jail within a year (a not-so-veiled threat against the President of the United States)–last month called President Obama a “communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel.” And now, the GOP front runner for the Texas governorship not only welcomes Nugent on his campaign but calls this unhinged racist hater “a fighter for freedom.” What’s wrong with this picture?  The Lone Star GOP needs to find a candidate with the basic decency of Gov. George W. Bush. (I didn’t like him as a president but he was no racist hater. I wonder if the same could be said about Greg Abbott. A man is judged by the company he keeps.)

Allowing buffoons and bigots to become the face of the GOP just pushes moderate folks who might otherwise be inclined to vote Republican into the D column.

Defending racist rants as if they were legitimate criticisms, vowing to block this President at every turn (and damn the common good), repels people of good will who would consider — and perhaps be persuaded by–valid and thoughtful critiques.

There aren’t enough angry old white guys to elect a President. Get over it.