Indeed, that was an ugly Tuesday. One might say it was an unsightly day for American sanity. We’re having a lot of those lately it is apparent to all but say, Wolf Blitzer. What was obvious before yesterday was stamped official once again: The Republican Party is under siege from a pack of grunting, four-legged swamp things: its base.
The pitchfork mob impaled Richard Lugar of Indiana who has been a member of the Senate since they built the Capitol. Apparently too many Indiana Republicans caught onto the fact that he was competent and chased him out of town. One of his more conspicuous heresies was contributing something intended to be helpful regarding reform of our immigration laws. Pollyannas may have been fooled into thinking this was an indication he was doing his job, but folks at the Republican Propaganda Ministry weren’t fooled. Insufficient vituperation toward our undocumented immigrants is a hanging offense in the Republican base.
I haven’t captured any video on my phone yet ready for CNN but I believe I am witnessing a pattern here. Republicans take control of a state’s legislature and governorship, and political vendettas immediately ensue: the real priority. The internal enemies range from public employee unions to gays to immigrants, but newly empowered and simmering Republicans cannot sate their thirst for punishment fast enough. A party so preoccupied with enemies, heretics and ideological righteousness is going to be largely about persecution and extermination when it assumes power. I suppose I am waiting like many others for the moment when the mainstream press truly embraces the import of what is taking place and commits itself to bravely clarifying over and over what is true: Radicals really are clawing at the door of American democracy and it is potentially dangerous. I know, I know.
Republicans who took control of the legislature in North Carolina certainly have reaped the pleasures of whimsical persecution. Given that North Carolina already had a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman placing a referendum on the ballot to change the constitution was little more than giving gays and supporters of their rights the middle finger. In some places, such as Florida for instance it is down-on-their-luck Americans using public assistance such as food stamps targeted out of the gate with punitive and humiliating measures simply for the fun of it it would seem.
Perhaps I should take guidance from the placid professional stoicism of mainstream media and not be alarmed by the passage of “don’t say gay,” laws or the expunging of evolution and climate science facts from text books in many states recently taken over by the marauding Republican Party. Maybe this really isn’t cause for alarm, and what I see as a visibly menacing radicalism is something more benign. Perhaps if I shared a television panel or patronage at a popular Washington haunt with those Senate Republicans who just filibustered a measure retaining student borrowing rates at reasonable levels I would understand the justification for what right off-hand appeared completely crazy, and simply understand they’re just folks.
And then there is Mitt Romney. Let me say candidly that I long have considered Orwell an inspiring writer and consider his essays to be superior representatives of the form. That a modification of his name has become synonymous with duplicitous language and propagation of falsified reality is no small thing to me. Yet, as perhaps the boldest imaginable practitioner of the abominations Orwell famously called our attention to Romney deserves a similar legacy in the lexicon. As a politician who has gone from where other politicians simply fudge, hedge and weasel to lying as shamelessly in front of crowds and cameras as a dog licks its balls, he has already broken barriers. But by claiming due credit for the success of auto company bailouts he explicitly rejected in print and on camera he has revealed a deviousness so brazenly treacherous it is only slightly less insulting to Americans’ intelligence than saying in an address to the nation: “All of you people are stupid.”
I understand the sacred place cynicism holds in Republican politics and I do not expect that ever to change. However, if the American people do not soon reject emphatically the cynical poison of Republican politics and radicalism this is, or shortly will be a nation of lost souls.