Someone please pinch me. Every day in every way, it just keeps getting better and better. The GOP is about to go the way of the Whig and the Know Nothing parties. And it isn't even a natural death. We're talking full-blown, national suicide here. This can only be described as a hopeful development. In fact, it's too good to be true. Am I dreaming this?
I heard an interesting point of fact on television yesterday morning. More Americans believe in ghosts and flying saucers than identify themselves as Republicans these days. How funny is that? The Grand Old Party is in the process of imploding. It is now almost exclusively identified with reactionary, white southern males. Can it possibly be that Weeda Peeple are starting to wake up and face some nasty little realities? One of those realities is the fact that these hideously foolish people have done more damage to this once-great nation than Osama bin Laden could have ever have hoped to do. Once upon a time it was considered (by some anyway) cool to be a Republican. Now it's down right embarrassing. They have become the political equivalent of the powder-blue, polyester leisure suit.
Arlen Specter's defection from that hideous party should not shock anyone (although it is a pleasant surprise). He always seemed to be an imperfect albeit perfectly reasonable man. It was more-than-apparent that he was uncomfortable at times associating with the ideological jackasses his party affiliation forced him to come into contact with on a daily basis. His occasional defense of the indefensible always appeared halfhearted at best. Who can blame the poor guy for getting the hell out of there while the getting is good.
Almost three years ago on June 2, 2006, the very first piece I wrote on my blog ("The Rant" by Tom Degan) was called George W, Bush: The Last Republican President:
"Please stop soiling the memory of one of the greatest presidents in history by calling it 'the party of Lincoln.'" Abraham Lincoln's influence on the Republican party ended at exactly 7:22 in the morning on April 15, 1865 when he breathed his last breath."
At the time I believed it to be mere wishful thinking on my part. Now I'm not so sure. No political party could possibly be expected to survive the economic carnage wrought by the GOP during the last thirty years. The damage is now so complete that even the American electorate (not the brightest bunch on the planet, I'm sorry to say) are beginning to put two and two together. They have awaken from the right wing coma that they've been slumbering under since the day in 1980 when they naively sent Ronald Reagan to the White House. They have opened their eyes, have taken a long, hard look at the political landscape - and it's not a pleasant picture; in fact it's a very disturbing one.
There's no longer any rational way to deny it: although there are more than a few Democrats at whose doorstep the blame for this mess may be rightfully laid, it was the Republicans who did this to us. It is obvious that Arlen Specter - along with the great majority of the American people - has figured this out.
You would think that these silly elephants would want to undergo a bit of an image makeover, wouldn't you? You would think that, given the current extremist image of their party nationwide, they would seek to nurture intelligent moderates like Specter, would you not? Yeah, so would I. We both would be wrong, though. In Pennsylvania, some idiotic group that went by the name of "Club For Change" decided that a mushy moderate like poor old Arlen was too much of a left winger for their tastes and they starting promoting the candidacy of some shrill drone named Pat Toomey to challenge the senator in the Republican primaries next year. Specter saw the writing on the wall and decided to come back home to the party of FDR (he used to be a Democrat). Although he is now dead to most Republicans, he has gone to a much better place; rest his soul.
When Newt Gingrich learned of Specter's defection, his response was, "Good riddance. We don't need him". That statement, in a nutshell, is perfectly illustrative of the larger problem. It is also is a textbook example of the arrogance of Conservative spokespersons. They did need Specter. They needed him desperately. Arlen Specter's exit was really the final nail in the slowly-closing coffin of their political future. They are no longer a national party but merely a regional one - their major sphere of influence being limited solely to the deep south. That may very well be someone's definition of "a party" - but it's a private party - you and I aren't invited.
The moderate wing of the Republican party, once personified by people like Everett Dirkson, Milicent Fenwick and Nelson Rockefeller, is on its death bed. I am convinced that were Richard Nixon to come back from the dead tonight and seek the nomination from these freaks, he would be dismissed as too liberal. As far as the north east is concerned, the last holdouts are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. If they know what's good for them, they'll both jump that sinking ship really soon - much like Jim Jeffords of Vermont did in 2001. In an OpEd piece in this morning's New York Times, Senator Snowe wrote a piece that was sympathetic to the reason for Specter's departure:
"We can't continue to fold our philosophical tent into an umbrella under which only a select few are worthy to stand. Rather, we should view an expansion of diversity within the party as a triumph that will broaden our appeal. That is the political road map we must follow to victory."
Good for her! Only a fool would argue with that very eloquent statement. There's only one little problem. The Republicans ceded control of their party to a cabal of half-witted extremists and kooks a very long time ago - 1964 to be exact - when Barry Goldwater was forced to accept the nomination on a platform that even he found revolting. Don't expect any of these knuckleheads to hand over the reigns of power to more thoughtful moderates like Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter any time soon. The longer they retain the power, the deeper the Republican party will become divorced from political reality.
Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are at this minute, you may be sure, doing somersaults in their graves. The grand old party is over - I'm almost convinced of that. The fact is, the people who are running that train wreck of a party (people like Michael Steele for instance) aren't visionary enough (or smart enough) to send it in a new and fruitful direction. The next few years will only see their continued self destruction. Isn't life wonderful?