I left the Republican Party in the late 1990' s following the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Clinton was no angel. He made some very poor choices and he certainly deserved to be held accountable. But Impeachment!? A sentence described in our Constitution as, "only for treason, bribery, or other high crimes"? The relentless, mean-spirited and hypocritical attacks by Republicans (many of whom we learned were just as guilty as Clinton) infuriated millions of Americans, and tarnished the Party's image.
As you may recall, the impeachment was successful, but Clinton was not thrown out of office. In fact, because the Republican Party had stooped to such shameful lows, he was enjoying the best poll numbers of his career at the end of his term.
During the Bush years, much of the hostility and vitriol aimed at Clinton and the Democrats seemed to ease off. The Republican "Big Guns" took control and the Democrats were effectively sidelined. The result? We were lied to and misled into what I believe will go down as the most damaging mistake in U.S. history -- a horrific war we should never have started . It cost trillions of dollars, over 4,000 American lives, and as we were struggling to deal with the consequences we were hit with another calamity -- our economy was brought literally to the brink of collapse.
That's what eight years of George W. Bush and a Republican controlled Congress brought us. The only good news was that those eight years also helped bring us something unexpected and amazing, our first black President!
When Barack Obama took office, the Republican hate and character assassination machine rose up immediately, just as it had against Bill Clinton, but this time on steroids.
Before day one of his term, Republican leaders met and vowed they would block everything he tried to accomplish, whether it was good for the country or not. At first, it seemed like sour grapes. They had been trounced, and by a black man at that! They were mad as hell and openly seeking retribution.
But the attacks quickly darkened. Obama was a Muslim; he was an Alien; he was hiding his birth certificate; he was a liar; he hated white people; he was plotting with the enemy; he was a weakling; an appeaser; a destroyer of American Exceptionalism who had somehow slipped in under the radar. The accusations became as shameful as they were absurd, as the Republican brand began morphing openly into a vindictive, smear and destroy organization. Unapologetic lies, distorted facts and baseless fear-mongering became their guiding principles. And for the next seven years, as Obama and the Democrats dug us out of one of the worst holes in our country's history, they never let up.
Disgraceful? Without question. Infuriating? For me that's an understatement. But here's the worst part. Not only did their underhanded strategies create a pathetic image of the group that had once been the proud party of Lincoln, at some point it became dangerous . That's right, dangerous to you and me and our country.
Between the smears, innuendos, irresponsible right-wing hype, and the talk-show extremists looking to make a fortune pedaling fear and paranoia, it brought much of the country to a state of misdirected anger and suspicion. Gun purchases rose significantly as hateful rhetoric claiming that Obama wanted to take away our 2 nd Amendment rights flooded the conservative media. Tempers boiled as constituents were told over and over how Obama was secretly destroying us to fulfil his Socialist agenda. Common sense was often overridden by violence, and the more distressed the country became, the more the Republicans and right-wing zealots fanned the flames. They saw it as a perfect strategy to destroy the man they hated with a passion.
Why the Obama Administration allowed it to happen, I'll never know, especially since even in the face of their unprecedented obstruction, Obama was racking up a consistent, impressive list of positive accomplishments, and the country was (and to this day is ), steadily improving on virtually all fronts. Why the Democrats didn't shout about their success from the rooftops, and explain clearly to the American people how we were recovering from the disastrous Bush years baffles me to this day. Whatever the reason, the angry temperament spread in waves of fear and paranoia. Republicans hammered their constituents with the notion that we were unsafe and being lead into oblivion by a passive, inept group of politicians who had no idea what they were doing. It is not hyperbole to say that the rhetoric from Republicans and far-right pundits created a shameful, self-inflicted national disaster.
As I write this, Donald Trump is shocking the nation's reporters and analysts with his obnoxious, insulting, divisive and amazingly effective rhetoric. Many people are wondering out loud: Where did this bizarre character come from? How could a person so overtly offensive take and hold the lead position in the Republican Party's primary election? Pundits and reporters have come up with an answer: Trump, they say, is connecting with a large demographic segment of the country that is mad as hell, and sick and tired of our "do-nothing Congress". They're absolutely right! But hopefully this disgusted and misled segment of our population will stop at some point before the ballot box, and ask themselves if their dissatisfaction with Washington is a valid reason to vote for a man like Donald Trump. Or, for that matter, any Republican? When they start looking closely at who is really responsible for our country's sad predicament"
Who obstructed and filibustered Obama and the Democrats for seven years straight, blocking virtually all legislation, good or bad, while spreading hateful lies and paranoia?
Who created the angry "do-nothing Congress" public perception by actually
doing nothing but creating hate and obstruction for seven years?
Which members of the House and Senate have been irresponsible enough to purposely and seriously damage our country for their political gain?