Ramblings on Politics and Other Nonessential Things
1969 was a pivotal year in American history. Neil Armstrong made that “one giant leap for mankind” on the moon’s surface. He fulfilled the dream of millions of Americans, articulated by and pushed to fruition by John Kennedy. Interest in space exploration, however, fell sharply after that momentous event. Richard Nixon was the new Republican president. He ushered in an era of dirty politics. The tone and tenor of American politics has never regained its civility. In that same year, the last of the truly honorable men in conservative American politics died. He was Everett Dirksen, the distinguished Senator from Illinois. The flame of fair play in politics went out with him.
Dirksen had a style about him that was at once funny and charming and laced with class. (I am now writing to be instructive to today’s band of Tea Party members of Congress who know nothing about humor, charm, or class). He was a conservative who helped to write and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Open Housing Act of 1968. Think about that! Yes, we once had a Congress that worked—and worked together for the common good. Dirksen had a raspy voice and a delivery style that could mesmerize the opposition with its syrupy flow, his disarming wit, and his unforgettable humor. He is reported to have said about government spending “a billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking real money.” He also referred to politics as the “art of compromise.” All politicians today would do well to study and to resurrect his insights and his interpersonal style.
The decade of the 1970s was one of consolidation and transition for the Republican Party. Bill Buckley and George Will sensed a moment of opportunity when conservatives might seize the day and bring an ideology of “truth” into the game of politics. They wrote extensively about it. They saw a generation or more of conservative values filtering their way throughout the land.
How right they were about the moment; and how dreadfully wrong they were about the truth.
Those were the formative years that gave us the likes of Allen West, and Rand Paul, and Joe Walsh. Was it something they ate? Was it a virus? Or, was our gene pool seriously contaminated during that time period? If there is a hint of graciousness among these three, it has yet to surface and show its shiny face. They are happily confrontational, gleefully arrogant, and about as mentally astute as the Three Stooges. But the underlying issue is this: How did they ever get elected to Congress? If “we have met the enemy, and he is us,” then we are in deeper than we ever suspected.
I could name another 100 or so members of this unworthy class, but let’s let this threesome stand for all that’s wrong with conservatism today. Lack of grace and civility are just the surface symptoms. Deeper down is where the ugliness thrives and foments.
Rand Paul, for example, is the son of Ron Paul, the jovial Congressman from Texas who speaks in streams of consciousness. He is the only member of Congress who can inject 17 subjects into one sentence, and then stand back and expect a response other than “huh?” I pity the poor news correspondent or debater who must face him and try to sort through his verbal maze of disconnected gibberish. Rand is well on his way to becoming “Son of Ron.” He is about as coherent as George W. Bush on a bad day. He is in lock-step with every bit of obstructionism ginned up by his brotherhood of malcontents in Congress. I guess the lesser evil is committed by letting both of them practice the crude art of law making on us rather than let them practice the more humane art of medicine on patients.
Joe Walsh is simply a loud-mouthed know nothing masquerading as a good guy. His resume is about as blank as his checking account that is some $117,000 in arrears in child support payments. He wants us to think that being a dead beat dad is normal, and what’s $117,000 to his ex-wife and five children? After all, he is a Congressman, and he lied his way to that position just as “fair and square” as the next Congressman. Apparently he believes that at some future date he will reap his just reward in kickbacks and payoffs, so he can pay his family—with interest.
Allen West comes from a different can of worms. He gained notoriety as a military officer in Iraq for his treatment of a Muslim held prisoner. Without training in or authorization to conduct interrogations, he is reported to have fired a pistol near the head of a Muslim in order to extract information from him. He was disciplined, fined, and left the Army whereupon he was praised by right wing members of Congress and others. He won election to the House as a false proponent of patriotism. He later showed his true colors by referring to Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as "the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives.” When asked if he believed there were any card-carrying members of the Communist party in Congress, he replied "there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party." When asked to name them, he replied "It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” A true believer in the Tea Party, whatever Obama is for, West is against. Whatever the Tea Party is for, West is for.
This group represents the conservative mentality of 2012. It is obstinate, obstructive, and incoherent. It seeks to take from the poor and the middle class, and give to the rich—not as a matter of conviction, but as a matter of duty as directed by their leaders. They would decimate the economy and bring about a Great Depression if that is what they are told to do. They haven’t the foresight or the intelligence to see past their noses.
This is not the party of Abraham Lincoln, it is not the party of Everett Dirksen, and it is not the party of Ronald Reagan. Today’s group of stooges march to the tune of their leaders. And who are their leaders? A few of their names are billionaires Charles and David Koch, Harold Simmons, Sheldon Adelson, Louis Bacon, Jim Davis, Darwin Deason, Ken Griffin, Paul Tudor-Jones II, Thomas Kaplan, Bruce Kovner, Henry Kravis, Ken Langone. For a more complete list, go to this website: http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2012/03/22/40-behind-the-scenes-billionaires-funding-the-2012-election/
So what can you and I do to counter act the actions of today’s misanthropic misfits? For starters, all intelligent voters will vote against them. Unfortunately, the bright voters are not enough. We must also bring into the fold the less enlightened ones, the easily persuaded, those who unwittingly buy into the Big Lie. We have to be blunt. After all, the billionaires are out to sink us. They are not happy with being mere billionaires when they could be…trillionaires?
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Or send me your slogans!