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The GOP's Spiral into Irrelevance

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The euphoria I've been feeling since Election Day came to a dead halt yesterday when I was reminded of something I hadn't even thought about before. The election of the first Black person as president of the United States is not the milestone event I had previously thought it to be. Think about it for a minute or two: What will Barack Obama be doing for the next four to eight years? The same thing that African Americans have been doing for over four centuries now - cleaning up after lazy and ignorant White people. What's the hell's big deal?

Watching the implosion of the Republican party, which began with the election of the 110th Congress two years ago, has been a joy too delicious to even describe. And
to think that it started one-hundred and fifty-two years ago with such good and honorable intentions. Their first convention in 1856 which nominated John C. Fremont of California and running mate William Dayton of New Jersey had one abiding purpose - the abolition of the inhuman institution of slavery. In hindsight, not an unreasonable goal by any stretch of the imagination. It is almost unimaginable that so barbaric a business could have continued to thrive over three-quarters-of-a-century after America's founding - a full eighty years after Thomas Jefferson put quill to parchment and wrote, "We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men [My emphasis - so sue me!] are created equal". The best thing that came with the passing of the millennium eight years ago was the fact that the American people could now say that we were two centuries separated from slavery. Maybe that was the milestone we finally needed to reach to wake up and face the dawn.

The Republicans would lose that election to Democrat James Buchanan, a man who, before our current-commander-in-disguise came along, was generally regarded by historians to be the very worst president in American history. Four years later, they nominated an obscure Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln as their standard bearer. He is today, rightfully, remembered as our greatest president.
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The Grand Old Party started out with so much promise. What the hell happened to it? Where did it go astray? How did it manage to devolve into its sorry, present day state?
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How does any political party go from the mountaintop heights of Abraham Lincoln to Death Valley of George W. Bush? That's about as far as you can fall, baby!
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On June 2, 2006, on the very first piece published on this site, I wrote the following:
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"Please stop soiling the memory of one of the greatest presidents in history by calling it, "the party of Lincoln". Don't ever call it that again. Abraham Lincoln's influence on the Republican party ended at exactly 7:22 on the morning of April 15, 1865 when he breathed his last breath."
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That pretty much sums it up. Let's face it some nasty and undeniable facts here, folks. The G.O.P. has for many years been a haven for extremists and fools. In 1954, after the Democrats were able to retain control of the House of Representatives after a two year hiatus, President Eisenhower, a Republican, breathed a prolonged, sigh of relief. In private correspondence he would tell friends and family that he had found it impossible to work with most of the members of his own party. Remember, this was the era of Joe McCarthy.
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Until the late nineteen-sixties, the the ideological direction of the Republican party was mostly navigated by clear-headed statesmen of the Everett Dirkson, Thomas Dewey variety - Rockefeller Republicans, as they were then called. Since the large migration of disaffected Dixiecrats in the wake of Lyndon Johnson's signing of the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 respectively, that party has been hijacked by crazy people. You don't believe me? Two words: Sarah Palin. 'Nuff said?
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When Johnson signed those laws into existence, he told his aides Jack Valenti and Bill Moyers, "We [the Democrats] have lost the south for at least a generation." He was right: A generation and then some. But the Solid South's habitual embrace of right wing politics and policy may very well have come to an end on Election Day 2008.
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This is probably a good thing....Probably? What am I saying?? This is a wonderful thing!!!
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If the Republican party is to survive into the twenty-first century, it is going to have to undergo an extreme, ideological makeover. It's a sure bet that had the Founding Fathers of that party been able to come back from the dead and witness the depth to which it has fallen, they they would have been working overtime for Barack Obama in the last election. And if they don't get their act together really soon, they won't survive. The posting from "The Rant" that I quoted above was called, George W. Bush: The Last Republican President. If that eventually turns out to be the case, I won't shed any tears over over the matter, I assure you.
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No, this isn't the party of Abraham Lincoln. Hell, this isn't even the party of Barry Goldwater! Toward the end of his life, Goldwater was bemoaning the direction that the modern conservative movement had taken - a movement he almost single-handedly bought into being with his run for the White House in 1964. He would learn the hard and bitter lesson that extremism in the defence of liberty was indeed a vice - a danger to liberty itself. At the time of his death, he was working on a book with John Dean but passed away before the book could be completed. Dean eventually finished that book two years ago. Conservatives Without Conscience is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how and why the extreme Right have been able to seize control of the Republican party.
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And while we're on the subject of great Republican presidents (there have been a couple, believe it or not) this certainly isn't the party of Theodore Roosevelt. In 1912, four years after leaving the White House, he was denied the nomination by the Republican party power base after winning the primaries. Roosevelt bolted the G.O.P. that year and ran on the independent, Progressive Party ticket (or the Bull Moose Party as it was popularly known) he pledged a Square Deal and a living wage "for every man and every woman in the United States". Roosevelt believed - to his very core - that big business served at the pleasure of the people - not the other way around. That is why he is forgotten by the party he so ably and nobly served. That is why today he is virtually unmentioned in all but a few pieces of maverick Republican party literature. He has become, quite simply, persona non grata.
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These clowns have controlled America's national political dialogue since the advent of Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" during the campaign of 1968. It was during this period when the Nixon Gang was able, through the use of race baiting, to convince a huge segment of southern voters that he was on the side of "law and order", a not-too-subtle reference to the riots that had erupted in cities all over the nation following the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Their strategy worked. Up till that point, the majority of southerners were Democrats. One-hundred years after the end of the Civil War, these knuckleheads still couldn't bring themselves to vote for the party of "that bearded bastard that freed the slaves". Nixon's scheme would turn out to be a blue print for political campaigns for decades to come. The "Solid South" remained solidly Republican for forty years - or at least until Election Day 2008.
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Mah, mah! The ol' plantation sho' has changed!
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Does the election of President-elect Obama mean the certain death of the Republican party? Are you kidding me? My luck has never been that good. But of this you may be relatively certain: It is the death of the party as we've known it for the last three decades, that's for damned sure. The so-called "Reagan Revolution" is as dead as a door nail - deader than the Gipper himself. From this day on, if they insist on nominating people with the intellectual afflictions of Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin and George W. Bush - then the Grand Old Party is over.
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This country took a step forward nine days ago. It wasn't a timid, baby step, but a huge step forward - maybe even three steps forward. If that party continues to pander to their half-witted, reactionary "base", they'll never win a national election again. The time has come for thoughtful, intelligent Republicans (BREAKING NEWS: THEY'RE OUT THERE) to take back their party from the fools and racists who have run it and their once-great nation into the dirt. That is the only way they are going to survive. Otherwise, they're finished.
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A profound question just came to me: Why the hell am I giving advice to those knuckleheads? I don't know....I guess I'm just a sucker for lost causes.
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Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net
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SUGGESTED READING:
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What's The Matter With Kansas?
by Thomas Frank
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There are a mere sixty-seven days until the worst president since the invention of mud is out of the White House forever. Can you even believe that George W. Bush and Thomas Jefferson even lived in the same house? How weird and ironic is that?
Originally posted at The Rant.

 

Tom Degan is a former Green Party candidate for New York State Senate. He writes on a blogsite called, The Rant by Tom Degan. He is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.....Okay, he didn't really receive the Presidential Medal of (more...)
 
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....was not elected at all.  He was appointed... by Patrick Sinnott on Friday, Nov 14, 2008 at 10:01:44 PM
Republican party strategists are busy thinking how... by Gary Denson on Friday, Nov 14, 2008 at 10:04:58 PM