Forty years ago, when Richard M. Nixon looked around and did not like what he saw, he decided it was up to him to change it. He decided that he was the only person who had the answers to the problems the country faced. He decided that only he could save the nation.
From there, it was one minute step to deciding that anyone who was not with him must be against him; anyone who did not actively support his programs or, worse yet, who opposed them, must be an enemy of the state and therefore his enemy. Messiahs normally do not see the possibility that they just might be occasionally wrong.
That self-assurance and that arrogance of purpose finally led to Nixon's downfall by his own hands. A nation breathed a sigh of relief that we had dodged despotism and the first steps toward tyranny.
But it seems that the Republican Party, in its desire to embrace what it sees as "traditional values" has revived the Nixon Legacy and is heading down the exact same course.
Since January, when the GOP took power in the house, very public and very aggressive moves have been made on their part to pursue what they see as their opponents. Just like Nixon -- whether it is actually written, as his was, or whether it exists only in thought, the Republicans have made it clear that they have an enemies hit list and that they are going to go after anyone who has dared side against them; even those who have simply failed to support them in their righteous cause.
The list has few surprises since most of the names on it have long been a target of the GOP -- Public Broadcasting, Labor Unions, and Civil Rights activist groups. One surprise is the AARP, the latest enemy to be identified and singled out for retribution -- and make no mistake about it, that is exactly what all this is about.
The Republican dominated House Ways and Means Committee is seeking to strip AARP of its non-profit status. They openly admit -- in a change from their other hit list campaigns -- that this is specifically because the organization that is the strongest lobbyist for senior citizens supported the republican-hated Obamacare. In other words, they want to eliminate the organization, as they seek to do with unions and the independent voice of public broadcasting, simply because they dared to oppose the Righteous Right.
The one refreshing aspect of all this is that at least the Republicans are being honest about their reasons now. No longer are they hiding behind budget balancing or security reasons; now they are coming straight out and saying they want to cripple these targets merely because they are opponents. Now it's simply a matter of, "If you don't fall in line and get in step, we are going to come after you with whatever weapon we can pick up."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what is called political terrorism.
There are no other words for it. They are now openly pursing a course of single party rule; any opposition or adversary must be completely and totally crushed so that nothing stand in their way toward power. It explains completely why they have refused to compromise, why they have refused to debate and why they have refused to even acknowledge the need for meeting in the middle to serve as many people as possible. Their purpose is no longer to serve the interests of the people, but to serve the interests of the party.
Or perhaps that should be "The Party."
We as a nation can sneer, make dismissive waves of hand, deny that it could happen here (forgetting conveniently that it nearly did during the McCarthy years) and ignore the fact that this nation is currently being shoved down the path to Soviet-style single party rule; yes, we can continue doing that right up till the time we look around and see that everything that we have worked for and stood for as a people and a nation is gone. No one wants to believe that a place like America could ever be so vulnerable, so susceptible to the failures of other nations.
But we are -- the more so because of our denial. And if we continue to deny, even the possibility that it may be happening, we certainly create the viral breeding grounds where the disease of intolerance will mature into despotism.