Hard to Watch the Grand Old Party Die

Tonight I realize that to many, I am looking at the world through my own tainted glasses. How could I (or any of us) not? But here is what I see. Until a few months ago, I was always a Republican, politically.   I grew up in Pennsylvania in the 60’s and 70’s. So, the kind of Republican I have always been was a moderate one. I believe in fiscal conservatism, a strong military to protect our country and its people from outside threats, but on social issues I am more centrist, more of a “live and let live” kind of person. I don’t understand what motivates gay folks, but I have no problem with them getting married either. I am not religious, but I figure anyone else is entitled to their religion as long as they don’t try to beat me on the head with it. I believe in science and education and teaching our kids to be as smart as possible, because they are the future.

This was the core of Republican thought, as I grew up with it. But, like Bob Dole and George Bush (the elder), I look at today’s Republican party and don’t see a place for me in it. It has become a party of radical conservatism, protective of ignorance in all forms, which has moved so far to the extreme end of the scale that a fascist (Trump) and reality deniers (Carson and Cruz with their 6000 year old planet) are deemed fit to lead. Did Unions go too far? Sure, but without them you and I would be shopping at the company store, living without any kind of retirement income, and working for slave wages under slave conditions (Trump has repeatedly said that we need to do away with minimum wage altogether, so we can compete with China – there is your return to slave labor, looming on the horizon).

Am I playing favorites here and denying the mega-rich owners of the mill their right to become richer? I probably am. They can stand it. I have to look at the folks who do the sweating and slaving, the living and dying in this land and ask, what is best for them? The whole country rides on the backs of the middle and working classes. Folks like you and me. It always has. And those backs are buckling under the weight. Yet, it is the Republican right which calls for legislation that does not ease that pressure, but instead just lets the rich get richer.

Are there lobbyists influencing politics on behalf of the democrats? Absolutely! Look at Hillary’s biggest donors – they come from Wall Street and big-media, both institutions which pour millions of dollars into lobbyists to sway political legislation in Washington. Both sides are completely corrupt and completely guilty. The system today is absolutely broken.

But things were different in the 1970’s. Republicans and Democrats could still find consensus and work together to pass legislation to help our economy. Those days are gone. There is zero cooperation in Washington so there is nothing being done, even when the issues are cut and dried.

Again, the issue du jour has become who can and can not possess a firearm.  There are many folks in America who want to have guns, some for sport, some for self-defense. Unfortunately, many of those people feel the need to have guns because they have bought into the fear mongering that is coming from that same radical right. That is a separate issue.

We can all agree that some people in this country should not have access to guns, either because they are known, habitual criminals, or because they are mentally unfit to act responsibly with a gun. If we can agree to that notion, we can surely agree that there should be a way to do all that we can to keep guns from those folks, without impinging on the rights of honest, responsible citizens to have them. It can’t get much simpler than that.

Yet, if Obama had tried to get this legislation passed through a bipartisan Congress or Senate, it would fail just because the Republicans are committed to making sure that anything coming from Obama must fail, whether or not it has merit and benefits the population (if Obama was a Republican, the Democrats would undoubtedly do the same). Trump is already campaigning on the notion that he will repeal such legislation, day one. So, if we can see what needs to be done, can agree on what needs to be done, and can put it into action in such a way that it does not harm those citizens who should not be harmed by it, what are we to do when the government, OUR representatives in Washington, refuse to act upon OUR desires?

At some point, sanity and doing what is best to keep Americans safe from criminals and nut cases, must trump partisan politics. I do not see where the President had a hell of a lot of choice. As I have come to see it, part of the problem is that our political system has become a kind of religion. And one of the hallmarks of religion, any religion, is that the leaders have to be able to convince the followers that theirs is the true way. It is an elaborate house of cards. Someone once commented that there have been about 3000 gods so far, but yours is the only one that is real. Every one else’s is just a silly bit of make believe, but yours, yours is the real deal.

You see where I’m coming from. In a country where the cult of personality has taken over politics and political lines between parties are drawn so clearly that each party is driven by a religious fervor, each party knows that if they are ever shown to be full of shit, the whole house will come tumbling down around them. Like any religion, the political parties must not budge, must not admit any flaw, must never acknowledge that perhaps, just perhaps, they were wrong about something. The biggest fear the Republican party has in this particular issue is that the legislation put forward by a Democratic president just might work. And then, everyone will ask, “what was all the fuss about?” And they might just wonder what the real issues are that we need to deal with.

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