David B.




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September 29, 2008

The Republican Party: Flailing Toward Oblivion


It is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the Republican Party exists.


Sure, there is some entity which calls itself the Republican Party. But it certainly doesn’t seem to bear any resemblance whatever to the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or even Ronald Reagan.


How, after all, could a party responsible for the elevation of such iconic figures be reduced to seriously presenting the likes of John McCain and Sarah Palin as its standard bearers? With a straight face?


I mean, really. Think about this.


John Sidney McCain: A 71-year-old senator with a 26-year history of antagonism toward the majority of members of his own caucus, a man who unceremoniously ditched the disabled wife who had tirelessly campaigned for his release from a Vietcong dungeon for a pill-addled beer heiress, a man who escaped indictment for corruption during the Keating affair by the narrowest of possible margins, a man so divorced from the realities of life in contemporary America that he can’t send e-mail and thinks that farm field hands earn $50 per hour.


Sarah Palin: An incoherent, gibbering, moose-hunting former mayor of a town of 7,000 who, during her first year and a half on the job as Alaska’s governor, managed to embroil herself in multiple controversies surrounding abuse of official authority in pursuit of personal vendettas; a woman who believes that dinosaurs walked the Earth 6,000 years ago; who receives blessings “against witchcraft” from crackpot African ministers; and who seriously cites being “next door” to Russia as a foreign policy credential.


Really: This is the best the Republican Party could do – a crabby and doddering crank paired with Caribou Barbie? Are they serious?


This party actually expects the American people to put this latter-day Laurel and Hardy in charge of the world’s most powerful military force and the world’s richest consumer economy, and to like it. Crazy.


Sure, it’s basically an extension of the eight-year nightmare already in progress – Bush/Cheneyism with greater chromosomal diversity. But you would think that at this point, the party responsible for the single least effective, least competent, least popular, least honorable presidential administration in the nation’s history would be doing something of a re-think at this point. You would think that, in the interest of self-interest and self-respect at least, Republicans would be doing all they could to ensure that they were not repeating the same catastrophic mistakes they had made in 2000. You might think they’d steer clear of nominating professional failures at this point, if only as a face-saving gesture. But no.


Think about it: What would Abraham Lincoln have to say to Sarah Palin? What would the man who penned the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, a man who held the United States together through the course of a devastating civil war, have to say to a retrograde Alaskan secessionist seemingly incapable of stringing three words together that make sense?


What would Teddy Roosevelt, the great trust-busting crusader against governmental and corporate corruption, have to say to John McCain? What would this original maverick have to say to the latter-day Maverick Lite whose presidential campaign is steered by no fewer than eight high-profile corporate lobbyists, and whose mania for deregulating the very financial sector Roosevelt had originally regulated had led to not one but two economic meltdowns?


Would either of these icons of Republicanism recognize McCain/Palin as their rightful political heirs, or recognize the dollar-driven latter-day GOP as an organization that they would choose to associate with?


Once upon a time, Republicanism stood for something. There was some effort toward integrity, toward adherence to principle, and yes, towards service to the nation, its Constitution and its citizens. And at its best, this party could accomplish great things, including defeating a racist rebel insurgency and squashing monopolistic banking and manufacturing interests. But it is doubtful that a Lincoln or Roosevelt would ascribe such attributes to the so-called “Republican” Party of today.


The Republican Party of 2008 has responded to the yearnings of a nation embroiled in both domestic and international crises by presenting, in all seriousness, a pair of corrupt and self-serving incompetents as its nominees for national stewardship. In so doing, they only succeed in insulting the American electorate’s intelligence and in hastening their own rapid decline into irrelevance and self-parody. It is a sad denouement for a once-proud American institution.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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