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How We Got Here

I’ve been away for some time. Sorry if anyone’s looked to see what pearls (or swine) I’ve posted. Part of the problem has been Facebook. I kinda got hooked on exchanges there with friends (and, of course, the not-so-friendly). In the course of an extended online give-and-take with folks it hit me that while we’re all (well, most of us) tearing our hair out over the pathological president and his unending chaotic administration, we’ve not taken a close look at how we got here, what the GOP has done over recent decades to create the climate that gave us Trump. I’ve touched on this topic before. This is an update. 

The GOP was once a viable, reasonable alternative to the left-leaning Democrats. We often forget that the most progressive president in the 20th century was a Republican (Teddy Roosevelt); we forget how sensible Eisenhower was; we neglect the impact that the “Rockefeller Republicans” had. Alas, it all “went south” in a dramatic slide. It began with Reagan — “Saint Ronnie” in the twisted history of the Grand Old Party.

The first step was the “southern strategy” aimed at taking the south by appealing to white voters there. Reagan mixed this tainted move with four other positions that hit a chord with enough voters to pull the party rightward, away from its Eisenhower base:

a) subliminal evocations of racism 
b) the “government is the problem” nonsense 
c) the embracing of the wacko Laffer “trickle down” economics
d) the assault on unions

And these started the slide.

The next step down the road to our current hell was embracing the unethical tactics of Lee Atwater and his “students” Karl Rove and, amusingly (I guess it’s funny, though it looks like it’ll end up as a tragedy) Paul Manafort offering ridiculous, anti-tax idiots like Grover Norquist a seat at the table. Atwater was the master of the dirty political trick. He was a character. He admitted that he became a Republican simply because, being in South Carolina, he knew he’d never have any power as a Democrat. He had zero political convictions and no political philosophy other than winning. 

This now-compelling shift rightward was bolstered by elevating the Newtster to the speaker’s role in the ‘90’s. Gingrich’s tenure ended bipartinism, compromise, and respect for any other’s vision. It wasn’t a change in overall political philosophy, it was a move away from the kinds of political deal-making that a representative democracy requires. Gingrich wasn’t any further right than others in the party. It was his take-no-prisoners style that was so destructive. And, of course, it opened the party up for the debacle of Bush II and the pure-evil Cheney.

Then, when The Black Dude was elected it ‘08, it was like a mouse trap set on a hair trigger snapped — and ‘10 saw the virulent, racist, anti-government Tea Baggers enter, stage-right, with marching bands, tar and feathers and (luckily only) metaphoric ropes. The Tea Bag cohort also brought along the Evangelical cohort that had been growing but remained relatively quiet till the Bush-Cheney era. 

And so we ended up where we are … with the Frankenstein monster in the Oval Office. They created this POS. They’ve inflicted him upon us all … and none of the motherfuckers (except for a few who are retiring) will denounce him or acknowledge how their party paved the road for him.

There’s a delicious irony lurking just off-stage — and many of the current crop in the GOP have suddenly recognized it. For thirty-five years now their policies forced the party inexorably to its current crazy right-wing Trumpist framework. But when you dance with the devil, when you make your Faustian bargain, the day always comes when you have to pay up.

They’re now caught in a deadly dilemma. If they openly embrace the Orange Menace they lose the sane voters. If they attack him they lose his (“deplorable”) base. Either way they are truly fucked. They know this. They may be venal pricks but they are not stupid. Those who know they’re doomed (like Ryan and an astonishing number of others) are not running for re-election. The others are mostly staying silent and hoping things like “name recognition” (or gerrymandered districts) will get them re-elected. November is gonna be something different — different from most other midterm Novembers.

And I hate this, all of it. I want to be clear. I’ve been around for a while — I’m closing in on eight decades on this cinder-speck of a planet we’re all obliged to occupy. I’ve always been solidly leftist, democratic socialist. That’s how I was raised, how my parents and their friends saw the world. But … there’s always a critical “but” in any interesting discussion … I don’t really trust them (my people) to run things. I don’t trust anyone who has absolute power, total control over things. I am a passionate defender of differences, of varying perspectives, of lively debate. Today the GOP is so tainted that no debate is possible. It’s all become the never-Trumpers against the Trump loyalists.

The moral death of the GOP bothers me because its slide into unethical, political degeneracy removes it from its proper position: a viable alternative to my democratic socialism.

I need to have my perspective balanced by thinking folks with alternate points of view. I really miss them.

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