It seemed improbable in November of 2010 when Mitch McConnell stated flatly that the Republican Party’s raison d’etre was to throw President Barack Hussein Obama out of office and nothing else. And then to do that the Party was required to appeal to Americans worst instincts: our racial bigotry, our fear of the foreigner and of the big bad Federal Government led by a tyrant named Obama. Republicans continue to place all of their hopes and dreams for the nation in this open hatred for one individual and what they think he represents.
It began with a deliberate campaign to oppose literally everything the President or his party proposed, even if it was a Republican policy goal and Democrats were reaching out to compromise and work together. The Debt Ceiling Debate, an issue that had not troubled President Reagan, the icon of Republican Conservatism when he raised the debt ceiling seventeen times in two terms as President.
Then there was the refusal to enact any of the dozens of President Obama’s job creation proposals. These were programs that would put the millions of construction workers connected to roads and bridge projects, and the housing market back to work. The Federal Government would spend money to rebuild the infrastructure of the country to make it more economically competitive. That would go directly to private sector companies and they would need to hire these people to do the work. The President also pressed to have first responders hired who were laid off around the nation. Are these people only of value to us after a disaster or terrorist attack?
And the President pushed to launch a program to help states rehire teachers, experienced and excellent teachers that were forced to retire or who were laid off to educate the next generation to make our nation so that its future may be secured. They said “NO” as they did every single time the President proposed a bill to put people to work and help their families.
But the Republican majority in the House of Representatives became the House of Reprehensibles: John Boehner and Erik Cantor became professional naysayers and refusers of compromise. Boehner turned away twice from a willing President on two large budget deals. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin offered a plan that would gut Medicare and make you pay six thousand dollars more a year out of your pocket for what you already have today.
In Texas, Republican Governor Rick Perry questioned the Stimulus Package and then quietly pocketed tens of billions of dollars from it for his state all the while criticizing it as not being worth anything.
In Wisconsin and Ohio Governors Walker and Kasich launched campaigns to end collective bargaining for public servants who had done nothing wrong and who considered the right to have a voice where they work to be vital to them and something they cherish. In Ohio, the horrid measure was voted down by the people by referendum. In Wisconsin a million signatures say Governor Walker we do not like what you have done and we want you out of the Governor’s office. That awaits the decision of the electorate in an unprecedented recall election after hundreds of thousands gathered on the steps of the Capitol. Meanwhile, Walker’s promise of he being the one to trust to bring jobs to Wisconsin has resulted in the Badger State being 50th out of the fifty states in job creation. It is the only State in this Union that has been losing private sector jobs every month for the past six months.
Public sector jobs have been lost, public sector workers in Wisconsin are taking on average a ten percent pay cut and putting $660 million of their scarce disposable income into balancing the State budget. That money now has been siphoned away from supporting small businesses in Wisconsin that hundreds of thousands of public sector workers patronized.
Walker came into office and refused a Stimulus Package set of projects connected to light rail that amounted to nearly a billion dollars and almost five thousand new jobs. Just this past week Governor Kasich of Ohio refused Federal FEMA disaster aid when his State of Ohio was hit by monster tornadoes and Ohioans killed, and their homes leveled. It was his way of showing how much he and his Ohio constituents hated the Federal Government. But people who have lost their home, a loved one, and everything dear to them suddenly might find FEMA disaster relief and Federal money helpful in rebuilding and going on as Americans bravely do. Kasich is reconsidering his outright refusal of aid of last Friday and reportedly will ask for aid as Governors of both parties did for decades past. But the damage is done in other ways then by severe weather. It shows up the Republican conservative nonsense for what it is.
Then there are eight or ten presidential candidates for the party to pick to take down Obama in 2012 and as Barbara Bush, first lady with the senior and sensible elder George Bush said today in Texas that this current Republican Presidential Campaign “was the worst I have ever seen.” The man who ran the 2008 John McCain Campaign said publicly on MSNBC that while he disagreed with the Democrats position on the contraception issue his Party had not only moved to the right but that it had “gone into outer space.” The Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul Campaigns have provided most voters not blinded by their party loyalty with ample evidence that these people are NOT anywhere near up to the job of running the country in the next four years.
President Obama couldn’t be more delighted. He was asked in a Press Conference today about what he would have to say to Mitt Romney and he smiled and laughed, and just said “”good luck.” And at the very time Americans continue to be concerned with widening and deepening the economic recovery which is now discernible to everybody, and getting all those people who want to work the jobs they need and deserve with the pay and benefits they deserve, the Republican Party focused on women’s reproductive health care and contraception. In Virginia, Governor McDonnell led an effort to force women to have transvaginal ultrasounds that are invasive and uncomfortable and undignified. Women of all political persuasions went literally ape there and forced the Governor to withdraw his support. Meanwhile, Alabama and many other States introduced measures and took action to reduce women’s access to the health care they need: something that seems to have escaped these people and shown they do not know that preventing pregnancy is but a small part of what American women need and are fully entitled to.
And even in foreign policy, they stumble. Mitch McConnell wants to bomb Iran tonight and inaugurate still another war and certainly sends gas prices further upward and kills a lot of people on both sides as the Strait of Hormuz is closed off to oil traffic. John McCain believes it’s time to bomb Syria though just how to sort out those that we want to kill and not kill in the streets of Damascus is not clear. We don’t even know just how reliable allies the opposition there could be. That would be still another war to add to the one ongoing in Afghanistan. And Mitt Romney promises to send warships to the Gulf and put on strict sanctions. But President Obama has made Iranian sanctions quite real for the first time and though he said nothing about it, a news report last month noted still another carrier battle group’s arrival there. President Obama has already met both these contingencies and has done so more diplomatically and with the experience and better judgment of an incumbent president. Obama even met with a sabre rattling Netenyahu of Israel on Monday and the two leaders are now quietly but firmly on the same page with regard to Iran. Israel is reassured the U.S. will act as necessary on Iran and they will stand down any immediate strike in order to see if diplomacy might succeed in the window of time they yet have there.
And then there is the leader of the Republican Party or its center of gravity when it comes to doctrine: Rush Limbaugh. We all know what a success his three day campaign was against Sandra (we had it initially as Susan) Fluke on his radio program. Commercial sponsors in the tens and twenties now are voting with their feet on what they think of a powerful man attacking a quiet but concerned law student who merely wanted to speak with the people who serve her and represent her in Congress about an issue she felt deeply about.
So the Republican Party crashes and burns. If voters wish to pick up pieces of the wreckage and try to fly it like the famous movie Flight of the Phoenix, they have a lot of work to do. But it will also require them to display diplomacy, ability to compromise in the national interest, something so foreign to them now, and to have real ideas that fully engage the broad middle of the American electorate. They’ve struck out so far and Jimmy Stewart both Air Force bomber pilot and Brigadier is not available to settle in at the controls of the aircraft.
The Republican Party base has become like Pavlov’s dogs, trained to salivate and respond to nothing but hatred for people outside their party and especially to attack President Obama. Meanwhile, the rest of us want to build a better America and we have our feet firmly planted on the ground yet our hopes and dreams like Theodore Roosevelt intoned long ago are firmly set upon the stars.