The road to my driveway is festooned with signage: Maggie Hassan, Carol Shea-Porter, Jeanne Shaheen and many others, some whom I know, some not, all who share some of my values — all more capable and thoughtful than candidates competing for the right to represent and protect my interests.
Yet, as I support Maggie Hassan, Shaheen, et al, I am unable to shake off an aberrant thought; what if we Progressives, Democrats and Liberals, from across the nation, were to short-term sacrifice those whom we know and respect to the Republicans, Tea Partiers, conservatives, libertarians, Sovereign and Free-Staters, Islamophobes and racists who are opposing them.
What if we, in an act of political self-immolation, were to turn our institutions over to the Cruzs, Issas and Ernsts — and locally to the Guintas, Garcias, Haversteins and Browns — for the next two years and say to them: Put up or shut up!
The reality is that the Republicans have so successfully neutered and politically-lynched President Obama that there is little chance to get anything of substance done in the coming two years regardless to who wins Nov. 4. Should we let them have their Benghazi, IRS, Fast and Furious, ISIS and Ebola fear-mongering moments? Should we indulge their masturbatory impulses and empower them with subpoena powers — should we let them try to repeal Obamacare and impeach the President?
A cartoon published in the International New York Times identified “Ebolisis” as the new affliction affecting many Americans. It’s true: Fear of Ebolisis, fear of the Other, is the new mantra of the Right.
Witness Scott Brown, who said, “Gosh, can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now? He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw-ups.”
Actually, Mitt Romney was wrong that Russia was America’s biggest strategic threat (It’s the Middle East), he was wrong on Obamacare (ask the millions who now have coverage) and wrong on the economy (check out the unemployment rates and the stock market recovery).
John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”
How else to explain not wanting the rich to pay an equitable share of taxes, to oppose a rise in the minimum wage, to oppose equal pay for equal work, to oppose opportunities for immigrants and women, and to cut food stamps and other assistance programs.
Yet, given all that, I know that America can survive two years of Republican-induced trauma. Perhaps it’ll be a cathartic cleansing — a Republican late-night TV infomercial — a swallowing of foul-smelling green icky liquids with the promise that our lower organs will be voided and cleansed, and we’ll all feel better in the morning.
Besides, I’m enrolled in my Communist single-payer insurance plan — Medicare — so I’ve already got mine. I get my monthly Socialist-inspired Social Security check deposited into my federally-insured bank account so I’ve got mine.
So I’m in good company with all those gals and guys with corporate pensions or who served in the armed services and have government pensions and VA hospitalization coverage — they’ve got theirs, too!
The difference between us is that too many of the “I’ve got mine” Republicans want to pull up the ladder behind them so no one else gets his or hers.
They’re supported by letter writers who write, “The progressive/Marxist/far left forces desire nothing less than the dismantling of the America we love and cherish …”
In another, a newspaper writer offered, “If I was the president, I would send the 82nd and 101st airborne division to our Mexican border to block carriers of Enterovirus 68 from entering the United States. Step two: Block flights from several West African countries and including the Congo.”
Such ignorance is all too common today in an intellectually bankrupt Republican party that once embraced people like Dick Lugar, Jack Kemp and William F. Buckley that today is closer to that of Joseph McCarthy — a party that would rather extol Ayn Rand’s fiction than Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek’s support of a minimum wage and universal health care.
Today’s Republicans would rather bend over for the 0.01 percent who employs them, directs them and owns them than support an increase in the minimum wage — a wage that has lost 20 percent of its value over the last 30 years.
They would rather obey the 0.01 percent as “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart …,” than acknowledge that the Founding Fathers were Progressives and that Jesus was a liberal believer in social justice. I cannot imagine for example, that many of the Founding Fathers would embrace the policies of voter exclusion and suppression that the GOP is deploying to try and control the electorate.
Yes, Virginia, there is voter fraud in America. It is the fraud being perpetrated by Republicans who are trying to Other-ize our nation, to pit American against American in order to preserve power for a dwindling white majority run by a privileged patriarchy and supported by an elderly white population that believes that the America of Donna Reed and “Leave it to Beaver” is re-attainable.
A population that believes Ebolisis is real, blacks are lazy, women belong just in the kitchen, Islam is not a religion, immigrants carry disease, that President Obama is anti-American, that volcanoes cause global warming, and the sun rises in the west.
A population that says “Amen” when Keith Ablow says on Fox News that Obama wants Ebola to spread in the U.S. because his “affinities, his affiliations are with ”Africa, not us.”
The bottom line is that if the causa sine qua non of the Republican Party had not become the delegitimization of President Barack Obama, but instead had become a voice for true conservative ideals rather than a voice of exclusion and “No!” they would today be held in higher regard.
The question I pose, therefore, to Progressive and Liberal friends is whether we should suffer short-term for two years – convinced that GOP incompetence, overweening arrogance, borderline racism and fear-mongering will so turn off Americans that in 2016 they’ll be hungry for return to the Democratic Party – perhaps, indeed, to even consider the candidacy of someone like Elizabeth Warren who will be able to say, with truth behind her, “I told you so.”
My answer is no.
It’s tempting to say “Vote for change.” It’s tempting to say “Ted Cruz, have your way with us,” but today’s Republican choices are terrifying and potentially disastrous. Therefore, as issues of war and peace and potential Supreme Court nominations stand between us and 2016, I will vote Democratic on Nov. 4.
In the polling booth, I will, as the Prophet Muhammad advised, both trust in God and tie-up my camel.
This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.