September 29, 2008
The Republican Party: Flailing Toward
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
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
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
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
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
2008 North Star Writers Group. May not
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