Thursday, March 24, 2016
A Sea Change
Washington Journal's opening headline today read:
Speaker Ryan: "Don't lose faith in government".
This is a statement which would have been utterly unthinkable and considered to be a death sentence for the political career of any Republican just a few weeks ago. CSPAN Twitterers and callers were shocked that he dared to say such a thing, many noting it seemed unbelievable.
You all know I was convinced that Ronald Reagan was one of the worst presidents in American history and how happy I was when Bill Clinton, a liberal Democrat, became his replacement (although I despised Clinton, It seemed that he had to be better than Reagan). You also know how bitterly upset I was when one of the first things Mr. Clinton said was that, "The era of big government is over."
It was a capitulation. It made it clear that from now on Democrats would act like conservative Republicans. It was a declaration of their complete cowardice. It was the equivalent of the Emperor of Japan declaring to his people that, "We must now endure the unendurable." Like Clinton and Ryan the Emperor lacked the courage to simply say the truth and had to wrap it up in obscure phraseology. He didn't come out and say "Hey guys, guess what? For the first time in 2000 years, Japan lost! See, it turns out that we are not the island chosen by the gods to gloriously rule the world, we're the island that just got the crap beat out of it by the gaijin , the blue-eyed, hairy stinky, racially inferior barbarians. I hope you're not mad about all that war stuff I got you into."
From the time Clinton crumbled, Democrats were terrified to do anything except pretend to be conservative Republicans. It was disgusting the way they pandered to their new masters. And then Barack Obama won the presidency. And he said in effect, "The Reagan revolution is over!", because he said the government wasn't automatically bad. He said the government of the people, by the people, and for the people was good as long as it met the needs of those people and served them well.
Republicans of course kept right on chanting "Four legs good; two legs bad!" No wait. Wrong chant. They chanted about how government was automatically bad and smaller government was automatically good.
So did the terrified and cringing Democrats. It was so bad they even tried to distance themselves from the successful president of the United States during elections. Those Democrats often found themselves losing those elections. The few Democrats with the courage to stand up for and stand with Obama had a better chance at winning. The Reagan revolution was finally weakening.
Now that the GOP has so successfully terrified a large segment of the American populace, split America into old white men against everybody else, made so many Americans believe that feelings of terror and rage were much more real than mere facts or reality itself, even the Republican leaders are realizing just how much they've damaged this country.
I repeat, Speaker Ryan today declared the foulest and filthiest possible Republican blasphemy. He declared that we must restore trust in government.
Just as Bill Clinton's declaration removed the spines of his fellow Democrats, Mr. Ryan's declaration is an admission of failure. He even criticized identity politics, among other issues. Identity politics is all the Republican Party has offered since Ronald Reagan was running for president by opposing welfare queens.
The Republican Party has destroyed itself just as the Democratic Party destroyed itself when Democrats gave up on what they believed and began to pander to the new masters in Washington. Pail Ryan's declaration sounds much like something a liberal Democrat would have said. It marks the recognition among the Republican leadership that they have destroyed not only this country, but their own party.
The coffin of the Reagan revolution has been nailed shut. It's now on display for mourners to parade by and express their sadness over the death of their beautiful conservative dreams.
The question now is whether the Republican Party can reform itself as the Democrats managed to do (although it took them decades) or whether the party will go the way of the Whigs and the Know Nothings.
There's actually a bigger question. How long will it take us to repair the damage the GOP has already done to America and how much more damage can they do before they recognize that zombie Reagan is no longer a good leader for the party?
I don't expect the fanatic Republicans become as submissive as the Democrats did. They will not go quietly into that good night. Nevertheless, even their own leadership can now see the wreckage Republicans have made of their home states (Kansas is a good example). Reality has this fact about it. You don't have to believe in it, but it's still there and it will deal with you, even if you refuse to deal with it.