February 05, 2009

The Republican Desire for Disaster

After the American Century

In the last month it has become clear: Republicans want disaster. They want the economy to get so much worse that the public will forget who got them into this economic mess. They are willing to let millions of people lose their jobs and their homes, if only it will take the heat off them and make Obama look like the culprit. How else can one explain the fact that all Republican members of the House of Representatives voted against the stimulus package, even as virtually all economists, regardless of party affiliation, agree that the stimulus package is needed immediately? How else explain that the Senate Republicans seem ready to block the stimulus bill if they can?

The Republican Party may have become irrelevant, and it may be time for Americans to ask themselves if such a party really ought to survive. The death of major political parties is a rare event in US politics, and one has to go back to pre-Civil War times to find an example, when the Whig Party foundered and died rather suddenly, because it could not deal with the sectional crisis. The Republicans emerged as their replacement, and this very year we are celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. But as noted earlier in this space, Lincoln would not recognize his party today. He had no Southern support at all, and won what are now called the blue states. Today's Republicans are not the heirs of Lincoln, and conceivably the public will realize this.

The Republicans have moved from irresponsible leadership to irresponsible opposition, and they are quickly losing any meaningful relationship to the emerging majority of the American public. They have lost more than two thirds of the support of Blacks, Hispanics, scientists, and humanists. Even those who used to support them such as doctors and even many stockbrokers are deserting the party. They need to change, or they ought to die, and do so quickly, so another party can take their place. I know, it will probably never happen. Yet at present they are a ball and chain tied to the body politic. They are a useless mass of backward thinkers, with nasty political practices, and they have strong tendencies to xenophobia and red-baiting. Their ranks are rotten with anti-evolutionary and anti-science neanderthals. Indeed, their very persistence as a party may be a kind of proof that human evolution has not taken place. More than half of them actually thought Sarah Palin was qualified. Doubtless, they will long survive because so many of them are so narrow and ill-educated that they cannot change. But can the US remain a world power chained to such a throwback party?