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Steven Weber Headshot

Sense and Insensitivity

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The spectacle of insensitivity that is the gun lobby and its outspoken, out-of-their-mind apparatchiks, is the apotheosis of what the Republican Party has allowed itself to become.

The conservative values which were once reasonable, harmonious complements to their liberal counterparts in this democratic republic have been genetically modified by radically neurotic strains of corporate manifest destiny, John Birch paranoia and radical religious delusion. By working tirelessly behind the scenes, the trajectory of rational conservative thought, which once included moderation and cooperation, has been nudged to the outskirts of sanity, making its existence a threat to the rest of society.

But such is always the case with extremist ideologies. The difference is that this is America, a place which values diversity and choice, not a terrorized, terrified, war-torn, locked-down third world district.

The conditions which have given rise to such virulence have been purposefully fomented by certain mentalities who were themselves the products of poisonous theories wherein fear can only be assuaged by defining the cause of anxiety in the most outlandishly cartoon terms and then, once sufficiently aroused, physically eliminating them by using similarly outlandish solutions. The same brain trust that brought us "ring around the collar" is now being employed to assure us that teachers should be packing heat in class and parishioners should be similarly accoutred in church. The sociopathic chop-logic of Mr. La Pierre as he gives next-to-zero consideration for the deaths of 20 children while decrying a possible resulting increase in paperwork should elicit little else than revulsion in any rational person within listening -- and shooting -- distance.

The element which is conveniently missing from today's Republican Party is the human one. People's hopes and realities become numbers and words, devoid of personality and easy to erase. The Ryan budget is another clear example of America reduced from a land of equality to a ledger of equations. Taking nothing into consideration except the balancing of a budget (and the stuffing of a pocket), it avoids ascribing actual human characteristics to the fetishized numbers, averts its gaze from the eyes of the seniors whose benefits are cut, the veterans whose care is deferred, the students whose education is watered down, the women whose health care is marginalized.

The new Republican Party is so unable to connect to the human values it has demonized for so long that even its recent attempt at rebranding (made only to address slipping voter-ship) failed due to its unfamiliarity with living things. It's like Lawrence Welk adding Bruno Mars to his jurassic repertoire in a last-ditch attempt to bring in the flagging youth audience.

The sane conservative voice is missed, having been subsumed by a fear-based outgrowth of an ideology premised on its very unwillingness to evolve with the times. Like Poe's "Masque of the Red Death," the walls built to keep contagion out are all but useless. And when sense is viewed as contagion, then you have the sensibility -- and insensitivity -- of the new Republican Party.