The party's obsolete ideas will undermine its relevance
March. 22, 2010
Finally as promised, a Special Comment in the wake of the passage of Health Care Reform and it's a first step, there's a lot wrong with it, but the penalty for not paying the fine for not buying the mandatory insurance has been reduced to nothing.
So, blessings nonetheless on those who took this first step, pat yourselves on the back, and, tomorrow morning, get back to work fixing what is still wrong with our American Health Care system. These remarks are about our political climate in the wake of the bill's passage.
Eight days ago, a 16-year old kid picked up a courtesy phone at a store in Washington Township, New Jersey, and announced over the public address system, quote "Attention, WalMart customers: All black people leave the store now." The boy has been arrested and charged with harassment and bias intimidation.
Two days ago, a Tea Party protestor shouted the "n" word at Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, one of the heroes of 20th Century America, and Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana and another shouted anti-gay slurs at Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
Capitol Hill Police confirm no arrests were made and there were no serious efforts to identify the vermin involved. Television, print, and radio news organizations will not be asked to turn over their tapes and images of the event, nor subpoenaed if necessary. This is not to dismiss what the 16-year old did in New Jersey.
But it would seem that what was shouted at the Congressmen merits at least as much investigation and hopefully as much prosecution. After all, it did occur inside the halls of Congress, a place at least as crowded as, and as sanctified as a WalMart.
In a backwards, sick-to-my-stomach way, I would like to thank whoever shouted at Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carson for proving my previous point. If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others, and a full-flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections, or the reality of Democracy, or of the narrowness of their minds and the equal narrowness of their public support.
On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives as Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and the Rush Limbaughs. Shockingly, that support even came, on a specific basis, from another Congressman, Republican Devin Nunes of the California 21st.
"When you use totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act crazy," he said on C-SPAN. "And I think, you know, there's people that have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone, they can do it."
Congressman Nunes, you should resign. You have no business opening a door for a man like John Lewis, let alone serving alongside him. And if you shouldn't resign for your endorsement, your encouragement, of the most vile, the most reprehensible, and the most outdated spewings of the lizard-brain of this country, you should resign because of your total disconnect from reality.
There have been no "totalitarian tactics," Congressman. People, these few, sad, people, have begun to act crazy, because it has been the dedicated purpose, the sole method and sole function, of the Republican party, to entice them to act crazy.
Those shouts against the Congressmen, Mr. Nunes, were inspired not by what people like John Lewis have done in their lives. They have been inspired by what people like you have done in the last year.
And so the far right escalates the rhetoric and the level of threat, just a little more. And worse still, it escalates the level of delusion. The election of a Democratic president is socialism. The election of a black president is an international conspiracy. The enactment of any health care reform is an apocalypse. And the willful denial of reality by the leader of the minority party in Congress is the only truth.
A willful denial, incidentally, that includes the leader of the minority party in Congress ignoring the fact that his is the minority party, and that he represents the minority, and that despite having broken all the rules of decorum in place in this nation since the end of the Civil War
that despite having played every trick — mean and low, despite having the limitless financial backing of one of the biggest cartels in the world, he and his cronies and the manufactured outrage of the Tea Party failed to derail Health Care Reform.
Failed Mr. Boehner. You lost. You blew it. "Shame on each and every one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your fellow countrymen," you said last night just before the vote. The will and desire of your countrymen, Mr. Boehner?
If you're one of the leaders of a party that in four years coughed up the Senate Majority, coughed up the House Majority, coughed up the White House, coughed up Health Care Reform, and along the way ignored every poll and every election result, I would think the "will and desires of your fellow countrymen" should be pretty damn clear by now: Your countrymen think your policies are of the past, and your tactics are of the gutter.
But Boehner’s teary "shame on you" over the tyranny of the vast majority taking a scrap back from the elite clueless minority — that's just an isolated incident. Just as Congressman Neugebauer shouting "Baby-Killer" at, or " It's a Baby-Killer" during, Congressman Stupak's laudable speech last night was just an isolated incident.
Just as the shouting of "n" words at Congressmen Lewis and Carson was just an isolated incident. Just as the spitting on Congressman Cleaver was just an isolated incident . Just as the abuse of Congressman Frank was just an isolated incident. Just as the ethnic slurs shouted at Congressman Rodriguez of Texas was just an isolated incident. Just as the oinking by Congressman Wilson during the President's address was just an isolated incident.
Just as whatever's next will be just an isolated incident. You know what they call it when you have a once-a-week series of isolated incidents? They call it two things. They call it a "pattern" and in the United States of 2010 they call it "The Republican Party."
American political parties have disappeared before. They are never forced out by their rivals. They die by their own hands, because they did not know that the hatred or the myopia or the monomania they thought was still okay wasn't okay, any more. And so I offer this olive branch to the defeated Republicans and Tea Partyers.
It is a cold olive branch, and scarred, and there aren't many olives on it, but it still counts.You are rapidly moving from "The Party of No," past "The Party Of No Conscience," towards "The Party of No Relevancy." You are behind the wheel of a political Toyota. And before the mid-terms, you will have been reduced to only being this generation's home for the nuts.
You will be the Flat-Earthers, the Isolationists, the Segregationists, the John Birchers. Stop.
Certainly you must recognize the future is with the humane, the inclusive, the diverse— it is with America. Not the America of 1910, but the America of 2010. Discard this dangerous, separatist, elitist, backward-looking rhetoric, and you will be welcomed back into the political discourse of this nation. Continue with it, and you will destroy yourselves and whatever righteous causes you actually believe in, and on the way you will damage this country in ways and manners untold.
But even that damage will not be permanent. Faubus, and the MacNamara Brothers, and Bull Connor, and Lindbergh, and Joe McCarthy damaged this nation. We survived and they were swept away by history. You cannot destroy this country, no matter how hard you seem to be trying to nor can you destroy this country's inexorable march towards the light.
The Belgian Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck once wrote that, quote, "at every cross-roads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10-thousand men to guard the past." Last night those 10,000 men fell.
"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences." - Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm