Is the Republican Party bad for America?
This isn't a trick question but is asked seriously and is prompted by former Congressman Tom Tancredo's charges that President Obama is America's greatest enemy.
Tancredo's is the latest in a series of Republican attacks and simplifications being offered as answers to America's deepest problems.
Take the health care debate for example. It was barely underway when Sarah Palin started talking about death panels, talk show host Glenn Beck said on TV that Americans who didn't sign up would go to jail, and community meetings around the nation aimed at understanding the legislation were disrupted.
The health crisis desperately needed a serious national discussion but Republican activists set out to attack Democrats, not solve problems.
The tactic was similar to that used by Republicans after 9-11. The nation needed reconciliation, a call to arms. But President Bush with congressional Republicans in lockstep used 9-11 as a political weapon accusing Democrats of being soft on terrorism. Winning elections mattered more than a unified nation.
Also, look at the financial regulation bill that passed the Senate today with only 3 of 41 Republicans in support of reform.
Many Republicans believe strongly in pro business policies and in little if any business regulation. These beliefs are reinforced by the massive donations conservative candidates receive from conservative interests.
Democrats also receive substantial amounts of corporate money, but not as much as Republicans. This is not because Democrats can't be bought. They can.
But Democrats believe in some control of business abuses and won't go as far in selling their souls as Republicans.
Despite the fact that Democrats control both the Congress and the Presidency, big business is now making twice the amount of contributions to Republicans.
The reason is simple. President Obama and congressional leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank took up legislation that would curb some financial abuses.
This seemed like a no-brainer after the 2008 recession that occurred after six years of total Republican control of the economy. Millions of Americans lost their jobs or homes. 15 million are still unemployed. Corporate managers walked away with millions, some billions, while their companies floundered or went bankrupt.
Every serious analyst attributes the lack of any serious regulation of Wall Street as a major cause of the recession.
You would suppose the Republican Party would want to cooperate in improving the system. Not quite. They have used the modest Democrat financial reform legislation to falsely attack the President and Congressional democrats for being anti-business.
Republican House leader John Boehner said this week there should be a moratorium on any business regulation. This would of course include oil companies like BP or the Branch coal mine in West Virginia where 30 miners lost their lives this summer. Boehner compared any financial regulation with using atomic weapons to kill an ant.
An ant? 15 million unemployed, the country reeling even after close to a trillion in stimulus money. But what can you expect from a leader who has been in the House for more than 20 years and is best known for passing out checks from lobbyists on the House floor?
And it's Senate leader Mitch McConnell whose greatest claim to fame is for his opposition to the McCain (Yes, that McCain) political contribution reform bill. The number two Senate Republican, Jon Kyl of Arizona, argued this week for continuation of tax reductions for the richest Americans which would cost some 676 billion in the next ten years. He did this at the same time he opposed an unemployment bill for 34 billion that would help jobless Americans.
Is the Republican Party bad for America?
Sadly, I say yes. In the past it was the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan and of congressional giants like Taft, Vandenberg, Dole and Luger. Now, it seems absent any vision except a lust to return to power by any means possible.
As Republican Senator Lindsay Graham recently said, Ronald Reagan couldn't get elected as a Republican today. And I bet Abe Lincoln would get swamped in a Republican primary against Michelle Bachman.