Monday, July 18, 2011

Republicans, Reclaim Your Souls

Until fairly recently, we had a vibrant two-party system in this country.  Yes, Democrats and Republicans have always had significant differences in preferred practices and policies.  But the Republican Party has gone from being fiscally and otherwise conservative, but still willing to compromise with Democrats to create laws and programs that serve the public and national good, to functioning as a barrier to compromise, civility and common sense.

There are currently numerous older and previous members of both houses who have been speaking publicly about the “old days,” when Republicans and Democrats socialized together and there were members from opposite sides who were nonetheless good friends.  It may have been the day of smoke-filled back rooms, but it was also the day of camaraderie, decency and some shared goals.

Now, it’s a whole new ballgame.  Both on and off the floor, Democrats and Republicans stay in their segregated groups.  They have become more than just partisan.  They are no longer two different teams playing the same game by principled rules.  This is largely because the Republican Party has been kidnapped by the Tea Party, a disruptive, ill-informed, right-wing-extremist fringe group.  And, it’s important to note that the Tea Party in general criticizes the Republicans for not being conservative enough.

The Tea Party has become a well-oiled political machine and a powerful lobby for a large number of assorted ordinary folks who believe in honoring the success and excess of the rich; who value religion over science; who champion free markets in all things, regardless of any negative impact on society; who prefer rogue capitalism and the profit-motive to social service and compassion; who so want to revive the past that they will not acknowledge the obvious differences and imperatives of the future; and, most of all, who think that their beliefs should be the law of the land – even if they’re contrary to the separation of church and state.  Indeed, the Tea Party will not accept secular law that is in conflict with its values, even though a majority of Americans do not share those values.

As a result (as we’ve all noticed), the Republican Party is in a hyper state of Stockholm Syndrome – the dynamic that occurs when a kidnap victim is held by charismatic captors for so long that they begin to identify with their captors and defend them against the people from their “prior” lives who are trying to free them.

It is time for all Republicans – politicians and citizens alike – to stand up to the Tea Party, which is taking them down a wrong, dangerous road.  Whatever their personal religious beliefs may be, Republicans must renew their faith in the wisdom of secular government as mandated by the Constitution in America  – a country that abounds in differences of faith and opinion and prides itself on its diversity.

It’s also time for Republicans to rededicate themselves to governing in the public interest and respecting the office of the Presidency, even if they don’t care for the man who’s currently President.  It’s time for the Republicans to stop combining the doing of their jobs with the campaigning for their jobs.  It is unconscionable to state shamelessly that as a party you will not work with the President and that your primary goal is to bring him down, no matter what he offers and no matter what the consequences may be.

The Republicans have a right – indeed, a duty – to stand by their party’s core principles of belief in small government, low taxes, moderate government spending and, now, the need to address the national debt and deficit.  They do not have a right to be obstructionist, petulant, rigid, indifferent to the welfare of the people, and threatening to the economic health and world standing of the country.

To the great dismay of the Left, President Obama has been more than obliging and cooperative.  He, in fact, is playing loose and easy with the core values of the Democratic Party.  Real Republicans should see this.  It is only because the Republican Party has allowed the Tea Party to threaten its honor, its history, its common sense, and the better angels of its nature, that at this juncture they will not play a fair game.

Reclaim your souls, Republicans.  If you do, you just might win the essence of what you want, as well as the 2012 campaign.  (I don't want you to win, but if you don't get a grip, everyone will lose, big time.)  I urge you to stop buying in to the fear and loathing and ridiculous extremism of the Tea Party.  You are the party of Lincoln and Reagan.  Look at what they did and ask yourself what you should be doing now.

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