As a Democrat watching the Republican Party, I am amazed at the transformation taking place before my eyes. I an only imagine the angst and hurt that party members like Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) are feeling. This week Jeb Bush spoke of it being a party that wouldn't be a hospitable home to either his dad or to Ronald Reagan. After the Wisconsin recall election even Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) disagreed when Mitt Romney said,
President Barack Obama missed the message from Wisconsin's recall election. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, and more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.
Guess Romney doesn't think that teachers, police or firefighters are American enough or deserving of help.
With statements like that from the party's nominee, even the plan by super PACs supporting Republicans to spend $1 billion won't necessarily make the party more palatable to either what is left of their moderate wing or to women, Hispanics, the LGBT community or independent voters.
Our nation was built on the idea that we can differ and debate issues but then come together and compromise to move the nation forward. Someone once said we can do that because we can 'disagree without being disagreeable'. That concept appears to be a lost art among those now in control of the Republican Party. There is a nastiness emanating from many of their leaders. The Republican Party today is represented by the harshness of supporters and members like Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and congressmen like Allen West (R-FL), who would like to go back to the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee and, like Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), sees a communist under every bed.
Tea Party activists and their elected representatives pushed the Republican leadership who were willing to let the nation default on its debts to satisfy some base need. Unfortunately, no one can figure out what need that was except to bring down the nation in the eyes of the world and force the downgrade of our credit rating. It may have been done with the only thought being to harm President Obama's chance for reelection.
Listening to the debates between the candidates who ran for the Republican nomination was frightening, but I assume it was appalling and a little sickening to Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who is a part of the last vestiges of sanity in the party. Attacking women, minorities and the LGBT community in a way that leads to anger rather than compromise isn't the party that once elected Dwight David Eisenhower and George Herbert Walker Bush. Those were men with an understanding of the world and how we needed to work together and compromise for the good of all.
I grew up with a Republican Party that wouldn't consider nominating Nelson Rockefeller for president because he was divorced. But they did nominate Gerald Ford, who was an early supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment and who understood and believed in the separation of church and state. Today he couldn't even win the Republican nomination for Congress in his old Michigan District.
There were great moderates in the Republican Party like Jacob Javits (R-NY) and Millicent Fenwick (R-NJ). Men and women like Nelson Rockefeller and Christine Todd Whitman could win governorships running as Republicans and who today couldn't get through a Republican primary in their own states.
While the country has always gone back and forth within a certain spectrum of beliefs, today we seem to have been radicalized in ways that don't bode well for the future. While President Ronald Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill (D-MA) could come together and appoint a social security commission to secure the future of that program for 30 years, today that idea seems out of reach. While there is a stridency in political rhetoric from both sides of the aisle that makes it harder to compromise, it is clearly coming more from the Republican side.
The Republican media/marketing operation deserve tremendous credit for convincing poor and middle class Americans that the concept of trickle down economics can still work. They talk about giving the rich tax breaks and how that will help everyone, and people seem blind to the reality that we tried that for the past ten years and they are still unemployed or underemployed. The Republican spin machine has turned neighbor against neighbor and people now resent the teachers and police officers living next door. They want better schools and safer streets but think their teachers and police officers are making too much money. They seem to accept the Republican solution of taking away their union rights, cutting their pensions and firing many of them.
Republicans have successfully turned the world upside down if the middle class will support and elect someone who is opposed to increasing taxes on the rich who continue to make money in greater amounts even during the recession, while they, the middle class, are still out of work or struggling.
I still have hope that people will come to their senses before November 6. That the majority of the Republican ideologues, including Mitt Romney, who is selling this bill of goods, will be seen as the 'Emperor without any clothes.' That the Republican Party that campaigns on overturning Roe v. Wade; defunding Planned Parenthood; rejecting the Dream Act which would allow children of illegal immigrant parents to attend college; overturning the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell; rejecting