Image from CNN Money
Dear Republican Party,
I gotta say, I barely recognize you guys these days.
I grew up in “The Big ‘80s,” the hey-day of your patron saint, Ronald Reagan. Now, I bear no love for Reagan. It was under his administration that this country veered hard toward the worship of money, guns, and power that still plagues us. It was under Saint Ronnie that it became OK – fashionable, really – to think that being rich and white made you morally superior, while being poor and brown meant you had some deep-seated moral failing.
The Republican platform back then was so simple to grasp and to sell to a nation that had recently emerged from recession, a failed foreign war, and political scandal (I’m looking at you, Tricky Dick) that had rocked people’s beliefs in America. Here it was:
* The Russians are an Evil Empire.
* Law and Order must rule the day.
* We need to Return to “Family Values” (a.k.a., religious fundamentalism)
* Fiscal Responsibility must be the bedrock of the economy.
I won’t litigate here how inauthentic this program was, nor how through “family values” and “fiscal responsibility” we were sold a bill of goods that was, essentially, a wedge that divided the country into the hyper-factions that are currently testing the limits of the republic.
No, today I simply want to point out the following: If he were still alive, Reagan would not recognize you guys as Republicans. And if he were still with us, Reagan would be kicked out of your club so fast it would make his pompadour spin.
Let’s take your former tenets one at a time and see where you’re at today:
Anti-Russian Jingoism: You guys have done a complete and total 180 – from demonizing the Russians to countenancing the puppet strings Putin controls over our president and, increasingly, our fragile democracy. If it hasn’t happened already, we are dangerously close to a time when the GOP will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of the remnants of the former Soviet Union.
Law and Order Fervor: Another U-turn here as well. Time was, you guys couldn’t praise highly enough the FBI and the DOJ. Today, they’re the “deep state” and a threat to all that is good and holy because they have the temerity to investigate the hacking of our democracy (see above). I will admit, though, that you seem enamored of the former KGB; it’s just American law enforcement you mistrust.
The Moral Majority: Yeah, right. Our Fallwells and Grahams these days (junior versions of the ’80s originals) bend over backwards to support as their leader a moral reprobate who has, more than likely, committed acts against women that should have landed him in jail, not the White House. A man who sleeps with porn stars while his wife (a woman he cheated with while married to a previous wife, who herself was a woman he cheated with while married to an even previous wife) was caring for their four-month old baby. A pathological liar and crook who violates a majority of the ten commandments on an almost daily basis. I guess “family values” are flexible when a big, fat tax cut for the rich is on the table. Which leads me to . . .
Fiscal Responsibility: I woke up this morning to read that the budget deal the Republican Congress just passed in the dark of night – in combination with the giant corporate/billionaire welfare package (you called it “tax reform”) just enacted as your signature (only) legislative success – equals more spending than anything President Obama signed when trying to drag the country out of the economic swamp his Republican predecessor had deposited us in. Not surprisingly, the vast bulk of the package is for weapons and war.
Look, I realize that politics requires some pragmatism. But what you’ve managed to do in the last year, Republicans, is to prove that ALL that matters to you is POWER. You have no qualms with abandoning your “deeply held” ideological positions when you are in control. It’s the control that matters, ideology be damned. (I have to add, in fairness, that making rich, white, powerful men more rich and powerful will always be in your heart of hearts – so let no one say you have NO core.)
The worst part of this charade? In a few years, when the blue wave has crashed upon you and the Democrats are once again elected to come in and clean up the mess you’ve made (look it up, it’s a historical fact), you’ll rediscover your fundamentalist credentials, your hatred for all things slavic and socialist, and your love of balanced, austerity budgets. You’ll blame brown people, immigrants, and pinko-loving liberals, but we’ll know who really landed us in the mess.
At least your mask has been finally ripped away, and we can see you for what you are. If only our collective memory lasted longer than the current media cycle . . . .