9/14/2005

Daily Kos: RIP, GOP (An Exhortation)

The slow-motion horror that the nation is witnessing on the flooded streets of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is the final, irrefutable evidence that the GOP is not fit to govern this great nation. There is no amount of spin and slime that can erase what millions of Americans are seeing for themselves on the evening news.

Democrats and liberals have watched in apoplectic horror as Republicans have gained ground at all levels of government despite hard evidence of corruption, incompetence, and failure. Foolishly, we, navel-gazers that we often are, have thought that the trend was about us; something that we were doing wrong. We have had meeting after meeting to discuss where and how we went off-track.

Well, we have erred, but not in the way that we usually think. We have failed because we let doubt get the better of us. We have let America down by thinking there was something wrong with what we were doing in the first place. We lost our voice because we blinked when we should have advanced.

The Republicans haven't been winning because they have a better plan or sounder policies. They have been winning because they have spent billions of dollars on a coordinated media campaign to make a slim majority of voting America feel good about the worst aspects of their natures. They have succeeded, not by providing a national vision that inspires us to a higher nobility, but by telling us that giving in to our basest instincts is what's best for us as individuals and as a nation.

The product the GOP has been selling is absolution-- not the old-fashioned kind, purchased through self-sacrifice and dedication-- but a cheap, outsourced knock-off kind of absolution that says, "its okay, we do it, too. We won't tell."

How hard is it really to convince people that being selfish is the way to go? Where is the higher calling in predatory greed? What invention is required to pander to the lust for revenge?. Where is the challenge in stoking people's fears about personal safety, or in feeding the flames of prejudice?

Its not hard to aim for the lowest common denominator and that is exactly what the GOP has been doing. Rather than hatching a plan to make America a better place then convincing the public to support it, they have instead made a science of putting lipstick on a pig. They package greed and avarice and sell it as "sound market policy." They bind up cruelty and fear and slap on a label marked "national security." They take bigotry and hatred and push it out the door in a glossy package marked "traditional family values." There are no new ideas; only our darkest human frailties made bland with a double scoop of political weasel-words and sexed up with Madison Ave. sizzle.

Empathy is a uniquely human skill. We must be taught to play fair, to share, to think of others, to give without expecting something in return. We all, liberals and conservatives alike, teach our kids these basic human ethics; and we define their maturity based on the degree to which they internalize them. Yet those in the GOP who presume to lead us make a mockery of human civilization by denigrating those very principles.

Fairness? Equality? Shared interest? Working for a common good? These are ridiculed by Republican operatives as passe, bleeding-heart Hippie-speak, or worse, as insane and treasonous. They cry about their self-made straw-man of a "Democratic nanny state" but infantilize the nation by pushing aside or punishing those who would dare to advance policies that reach beyond the instinctual primitive obsessions of "I, me, and mine."

The litany of short-sighted GOP-authored legislation over the last several years-- the gutting of public works, tax cuts in the face of mounting debt, the single-minded redistribution of wealth to those with plenty, the blatant cronyism-- reveal the truth: the Republican Party has no plan and no vision for governing this nation. All they have is a strategy for getting elected-- and then redirecting public funds to campaign donors to get re-elected. It a strategy to snuff out our public institutions through attrition while making their supporters feel warm and fuzzy about being greedy, selfish, bigoted, cruel, and wasteful.

The Republicans encourage the worst elements of our society by creating a morality-free zone behind a painted facade of piety and strict morality but once you are inside, there is nothing to see. There is no show. They are there to trash the place and slink off with the loot, not to build or to work.

When faced with a crisis they run in front of the cameras with focus group-tested slogans and happy talk because that is all they have. Everything they do and are is bound up in their marketing scheme. Their only skill is in trying to make what's wrong seem right just long enough for the the check to clear. There is no substance, no deeper resources to draw from, no greater ideals to act as pole-star. There is only spin, counter-spin, and smear. Every problem is a PR problem.

Tragedy has a way of revealing character. The constant drumbeat of death from the war in Iraq, and now the cascading nightmare that is the Gulf Coast flood has peeled away the veneer and we can see the GOP leadership and the larger conservative movement for what it is: a sham. They have nothing. They offer nothing. They come to destroy, not to build. They have no vision for a greater public good because, for them, the very notion of a public good is anathema.

Make no mistake: as we watch our fellow citizens drown, starve, and die in the street in New Orleans, its not incompetence or lack of planning that is killing them. It is willful neglect. It is the direct result of reducing the government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." This is what "starving the beast" looks like.

For some 30 years the Republican party has packaged humanity's darkest and most craven weaknesses and pawned them off as its greatest virtues. Well, the reckoning is here and the conservatives are found wanting. When the chips are down we are a nation that cares for our citizens and we expect our government to be strong enough, capable enough, and compassionate enough to do the same.

As Democrats, we call upon and support the nobler aspects of human nature. The time has come to put aside our doubts, get back on track, and inspire our brothers and sisters with our vision for a better nation and a better world.

Rest in peace, Grand Old Party. America can no longer afford the drag that your self-delusions and cheap justifications put on our spirit. For those who are willing to turn back from pandering to the lowest common denominator and who choose to join us lifting up the better angels of our nature, we offer the hand of friendship. For the the rest: may the God whose name you have scandalized and used as cover for your lack of humanity have mercy on your degenerate souls.

Daily Kos: RIP, GOP (An Exhortation)

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