Monday, March 22, 2010

The almost universal declarations of the pundits indicate the Republicans are rejoicing at their amazing success in the November elections. After all, they endlessly repeat that the American people are totally on their side and utterly reject everything Obama stands for. I think the Republicans may well wake up after the November elections are actually held and find that the American people are divided on these issues and that the Democrats are still in power and may even have made some modest gains. Gains are not likely but I simply don’t see the Republicans succeeding with their hysterical attacks and exaggerations.

I used to despise both parties equally, but in the past three decades the Republican Party has steadily become more and more extreme, more convinced that the demagogue is the true voice of the American people. This has become so fundamental to the Republicans that they have begun to purge their party of those not regarded as sufficiently extreme. It has been pointed out out that Ronald Regan would be purged under the draconian standards considered acceptable to party loyalists today.

I said it during the first term of Bush Jr. and I will repeat it now. The Republican Party, if it is not to become a forlorn memory replaced by a less fanatic new political group, must put its extremists back on the extreme wing and return its base to those voters who are center right. When Members of Congress shout out epithets and make wild accusations as a regular part of their interactions with the public, it is time for a serous change.

The Founding Fathers, as a whole, hated the idea of parties and partisan politics, but however undesirable, they proved to be inevitable. Only George Washington himself could stand above such nastiness. As soon as he retired the demagogues took over. Adams and Jefferson split over the vulgarity of campaign politics and remained alienated for years. Adams’ wife never forgave Jefferson, even after her beloved husband had done so. It is true that things were even more nasty in those early years than they are now, but the Bookings Institute and another think tank, whose name escapes me, researched the matter and concluded that Congress is more antagonistic and acrimonious today than it has been since the 1890’s. Sounds right.

I am not saying that the Dems have gotten any better than they were when I damned both parties. I am saying that the Republicans have begun to sound more like the John Birch Society than one of the two parties who represent the voters. My enemy is extremism. When any party becomes extremist, it becomes my enemy. Add to this the incredible hubris of the Republicans and I believe that the gods will not tolerate or reward such behavior. The American people are divided on the issues today. Many are going to extremes and are terrified of the future. Yes, that is true. but for the Republicans to declare that therefore all Americans hate the Democrats and love the Republican efforts to neuter governnment is to ignore the rest of us. Note to the Right: I am an American too. You can declare members of your party who dare to disagree with you to be Republicans in Name Only, but you can’t take our citizenship away because we aren’t right wing extremists.

It is hubris, overweening arrogance which offends heaven. Believing your own propaganda is not an effective long term strategy. It sometimes works for the short term, but eventually it brings you down. Nixon fell because of this error and Bush and Cheney destroyed their hope of a positive legacy in history in the same manner. It is possible that the panic and fear mongering will work in November, but it is also possible that enough of the American people will tire of being told to panic and despair that it will backfire.

Health care may yet be Obamas’s Waterloo, but it is entirely possible that he will turn out to be the Duke of Wellington. .

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