Republicans – Heal thyself

Author: Barrett Rainey

Anyone who’s undergone cancer or similar surgery knows such treatment is often dangerous, could be life-threatening and done only when absolutely necessary. But removing pieces of the body is often the only way to save it. The time has come for honest Republicans to put their party under the knife.

What this nation has just been through can most accurately be described as completely unnecessary – a terrible body blow to our already weakened economy – the most politically divisive challenge to our freedoms we’ve seen in some 170 years – a weakening of our standing in the world community – and done so at a cost of human suffering for millions of Americans. For nothing! For absolutely nothing.

Our current national political mess has not been caused by Republicans per-se or Democrats per-se. We’ve long survived the blessings and curses of a two-party system without the economic and human damage inflicted in the last two years. As a nation, we’ve survived many political calamities. What we’ve NOT experienced since the Civil War is the organized efforts of some 150 members of Congress determined to destroy a government they can’t control. Simply because they can’t control it. No matter the cost. But that’s what we have today.

As the midnight hour approached which would put our nation in world economic default and contine the paralysis of a half-closed government, no one – NO ONE with any understanding of the situation – could have done anything but vote to end both calamities. But 18 members of the Senate said “NO” and 144 more in the House joined their chorus. These are some of the parts of the GOP body politic that need to be surgically removed.

I realize some of those folk were highly educated. I understand some actually call themselves “students of government.” I personally know some who had successful careers before they were elected. I’m also very aware of the phrase “educated fools.” In my book, all 162 who voted “no” are in that category.

Seldom have we seen such unified outpouring of advice, warnings and even threats from the American public – and most especially from corporate, academic and intellectual leaders – as we have in the last three weeks. From the top-most levels of all those has come the single message – stop the madness before this country suffers economic and human damages from which we may not recover. When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO and labor unions of all stripes sound identical alarms with identical messages, the range of interests between those two extremes covers just about all the institutional and civic voices of the majority of this country. For those 162 “Republicans,” the warnings went ignorantly unheeded.

National media talking heads can’t seem to figure out how we got into this mess – where the idiots and destructive voices in our Congress came from. Well, we’ve respectfully offered what we believe to be the reason in this space on several occasions. Here it is again. Respectfully.

At the national level – and in most states – candidates in the Republican Party are chosen by the Party structure and not GOP voters at-large. For the last 30 years or so, that structure has been in the hands of former Bircher’s, Freedom Lobby nuts and other right-wing groups who slowly took over the interior operating machinery in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. Where they were successful, many shut the door to thoughtful candidacies by ending open primaries, going to closed nominating conventions and taking absolute control of the nominating process so only their people got to the ballot. If your voice offered a reasoned, moderate philosophy – anything but far right gibberish – you were ignored.

Additionally, many Republican primaries have been stacked. Take Michelle Bachmann. Please! (Sorry, Henny.) She’ s never had a heads-up, two-candidate race. Never. There’s always a second or third “candidate” from Libertarians or other minorities in her party. Divide the GOP vote and she wins with 30-40%. Same for Gohmert, King and the other crazies. Either they came from heavily (gerrymandered) Republican districts or were minority percentage winners of an election with more than a single candidate.

Our nation’s political backbone is at its strongest when our two-party political system has been healthy: when the thoughtful struggles of opposing ideas have been open, honest, deliberate – debated by serious and informed voices. At our national best, we need the yin and yang of differing political philosophies to arrive at the most acceptable solutions to any issue. Our national balance is best when there are competing ideas to steady it. Our national difficulties today are simply because we’re being shoved out of that balance by ignorant forces who “know not what they do.”

The debacle of these last few days has not been the fault of honest, fair-minded Republican members of Congress. The only real blame they share is letting the know-nothings, false “prophets” and other idiots control the process too long. They’ve withheld criticism in the name of “unity” but that phony “unity” damned near killed us.

Many voices are predicting the Republican Party – shambles that it currently is – will be beaten solidly in many upcoming elections. That WILL happen. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If better Republican thinkers – real conservatives, moderates and, yes, even the few remaining liberals – will put the Party on the surgical table and cut out the cancers of ignorance, false ideologies, greed, extreme self-service and the haters feeding all this – the Party will truly be stronger and more competitive. And – maybe best of all – really more open and inclusive.

If surgery will remove the disease killing the GOP, it’s very likely a follow-up prescription of openness and inclusiveness will heal it. If so, a stronger Republican Party can emerge to the benefit of all of us. But we need it now!

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