This essay was originally written on March 11, 2007. It was published around that time in MugsysRapSheet.com (and I’ve added a couple of the links included from that posting). I could update it, but I think it still applies, even 5 years after I originally composed it. ~ Mike
GOP: The Party of Hate
By Michael R. Honig
It’s no longer a joking matter; no longer something that we should avoid saying because it’s ‘impolitic’ or disrespectful of others’ views or opinions. No longer something that we should fear saying because it might be seen as hysterical hyperbole.
What do we call a political party or movement that consistently works to aggrandize the rich and powerful; marginalizes the poor and weak; ignores the political oppositions’ legitimate objections and concerns; derogates anyone who disagrees with them or with whom they disagree; ignores inconvenient laws and creates new, Constitutionally questionable laws and policies as it suits their needs; ignores world public opinion; moves military forces anywhere they want at any time they want without regard to domestic political process or international law; puts words that were never said into the mouths of their opponents and then criticizes or ridicules those opponents for those things they never said (aka, ‘the Straw Man’ Strategy); creates and widely disseminates lies and distortions with many coordinated voices in many powerful media outlets in order to gain emotionally charged political advantage; engages in character assassination; reveals national security secrets in order to gain domestic political advantage or hurt their domestic political opposition; find or create questionable legal grounds to export people for torture and interrogation that would otherwise be illegal; find questionable legal grounds for indefinite detention of their enemies?
Well … In the 1930s and ‘40s, I think we called them Nazis.
So here it is: As currently constituted, the Republican Party – the GOP, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower – the Republican Party has become a haven and gathering point for bigots, hate mongers, truth-twisters and slanderers. These people – people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove and their ilk – have to finally be seen as, and called by name, what they actually are: The 21st Century American equivalent of Nazis.
The Ann Coulter episode, where she implicitly called John Edwards a ‘faggot’ and elicited general laughter and applause from her Republican audience, demonstrates two things: One, that she saw no problem with saying what she said, and two, that her audience had no problem with hearing what she said.
While Ms. Coulter has become the central focus of the debate, she is really just a symptom of what’s wrong with the Republican Party of today. The real, central focus should be on those who make up her audience; those who admire her, invite her back and give her a forum.
Coulter has subsequently tried to excuse her comment by saying she was ‘joking’. Even Michael Richards couldn’t pull that one off, and Mel Gibson at least had the decency not to try.
Rupert Murdoch admits that his Fox News channel has been acting essentially as a propaganda organ for the Bush Administration and the Right-wing agenda. Conservative ‘talk show hosts’ and commentators – a plethora of which we now find ourselves afflicted with, since the dilution and repeal of various equal time and media conglomeration provisions over the years – somehow remarkably start using the same talking points at the same time in a remarkably coordinated cacophony that only the incredibly naive could dismiss as a coincidence.
We live in a dangerous time for our country; possibly not so different from the gradual marginalization of legislature and accumulation of executive power that ultimately led to the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire, or from the WeimarRepublic to the National Socialists.
The Republican Party has morphed into something new in this country’s experience: a major American political movement that has by its actions embraced philosophies of ‘win at any cost’, the ends justify the means, the political opposition has nothing to say and nothing to contribute, and obeying the law and the Constitution is for lesser beings; the ends, after all, justify the means.
I know that not all Republicans think like this, but too many of the Republicans in power, and their supporters, do; and those who wish to be in power in the party feel they must pander to those who think this way.
There will always be crackpot fringes who wish to associate themselves with mainstream parties for the legitimacy they represent; even the Democrats have the LaRouchies. The problem is when the crackpot fringes become the party; imagine if Democratic presidential hopefuls had to philosophically and politically position themselves to get the LaRouche vote in order to capture their party’s presidential nomination.
This seems to have become the case with the Republicans. You have candidates and potential candidates whose political and philosophical history seems to make them moderates within the party – McCain and Giuliani, for example – now catering to the Ann Coulter/Pat Buchanan/Pat Robertson wing of the party in order to capture enough primary votes and delegates to gain the GOP’s presidential nomination.
Some Republican presidential hopefuls have criticized and disavowed Coulter’s recent comments, but given her inflammatory and hateful history, such objections made now only smack of political expediency. Mitt Romney not only shared a stage with her but introduced her, after all.
I think that it is now time for Republicans who truly believe in the American system – who believe in truth, justice and the American Way – to stand up and be counted. If they cannot change their party back into something Dwight Eisenhower would recognize, then they must leave en masse and form a new party that seeks its political and philosophical objectives while obeying the letter and spirit of U.S. law and history; they must leave behind those who would spew lies and hate and set Americans against each other in order to achieve their own narrow political advantage.
It’s happened before. The Republican Party as originally conceived in 1854 would today be considered Liberal or Progressive. It was created by disenchanted Whigs, Democrats and abolitionists as a philosophical successor to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans, and apparently didn’t begin to evolve into its present incarnation until after the First World War. (See http://ap.grolier.com/article?assetid=0245550-0&templatename)
If the price is losing elections, then the question for Republicans everywhere – candidates and voters alike – must become: Is winning elections worth losing your soul?
© 2007 By Michael R. Honig