Straight from the Shoulder of Michael Shelby
From The Economist - August, 11, 2007©
Irreversible Death -
the end of the Republican Party
The Republican Party is dead! It just doesn’t realize it or have the decency to lie down and be dead.
Working my way through college as an emergency room technician and a future failed pre-med, I learned the term “irreversible death.” It sounds weird I know, as if the term were an oxymoron, but it isn’t. A diagnosis of irreversible death results from death at the cellular level and is used in determining a gravely ill or injured patient’s prognosis. When a patient so injured or ill presented with the signs and symptoms of one or more of their body’s systems–brain, kidney, heart, digestive, etc.–in failure or had failed, from that moment, homeostasis was unsupportable and death was inevitable. Even successful treatment of the failing system would not stop the inevitable because the amount of damage in that organ or system would have begun to degrade some or all of the others at their cellular level. When disease or damage to the extent of being irreversible is diagnosed, no palliative, surgical, or transplant procedure could be done that would prolong the inevitable. A diagnosis of irreversible death is not easily made and had to be determined from strictly defined criteria. But, from the moment a diagnosis of irreversible death is made, it is just a matter of time before the patient expires. The Republican Party exhibits many signs and symptoms of a body politic with multiple systems in failure. Broken down into interacting parts, documenting the Republican Party’s ideology and actions at a cellular level in order to diagnose these failed and failing systems, I predict the inevitable and irreversible death of the Republican Party.
In Part 2 of this essay I will unambiguously define many of the “signs and symptoms” that are causing the irreversible death of the Republican Party. Then, I will make a case for the destruction of “Brand Republican.” Numerous examples exist in business and marketing that demonstrate the power of brands, how brands can be damaged, and what happens when those brands are irreparably and irreversibly damaged. The end result for Republicans is that disillusionment, defections, and a resounding turning away from the Republican Party values will result in its inevitable relegation to the dust bin of history just as were the Whigs, the Bull Moose Party, and other fringe political federations.
Systems are defined as interacting or interdependent items forming a unified whole (Merriam Webster On-line, http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/system). Together these interacting items act in concert to serve a common purpose, to influence the functioning, the life even, of the entire organism, entity, or in this case the Republican Party. For this essay I will consider the values demonstrated and documented by Republicans witnessed through their social, economic, and political practices. The signs and symptoms of multiple systems in failure that have so corrupted, diseased, and damaged the Republican Party–including its conservative ideology–make prediction of its inevitable death as certain as diagnosing a patient with inoperable metastasizing pancreatic cancer, severe trauma, or Alzheimer’s disease.
The etiology of irreversible death of the Republican Party can be traced back to President Richard M. Nixon. The most famous symptom was articulated by John W. Dean when he told President Nixon that, “there is a cancer on the presidency,” Watergate and ignominious resignation. The cancer of that Republican presidency metastasized during the presidency of Ronald Regan.
Regan championed the “borrow and spend” tactics that added to the national debt an amount not achieved by all the presidents before him combined. The Bush I and Bush II presidencies have only served to pile onto the national debt with the three Republican presidents accounting for over 70% of the total national debt. George W. Bush alone has added over $3 trillion that exceeds one-third of the total national debt. It was Regan’s brand of conservatism that started the dismantling of the middle class that is so evident today in the widening income gap between the richest 10% of the population and the 90% of everyone else. Regan was followed by the one term presidency of George H.W. Bush who continued the borrow and spend tactics that have plunged the nation further into debilitating debt. These Republican presidents have burdened the American people with such crushing debt that our children, and their children’s children, and eventually their children’s children’s children will be paying it off. Eventually even George H. W. Bush had to break faith with Republicans and the conservative base to renege on his “no new taxes” pledge.
Today, the “cancer on the presidency” that John Dean spoke of has grown and metastasized deep into the Republican body politic. Insidiously wrapping its tentacles around the veins and sinews of the Republican Party, the true nature of Republicanism is squeezing the political life out of its members. The organisms now expressing their previously veiled authoritarian/hegemonic agenda that is attacking the social, support, and political systems within the Republican Party include: the neoconservatives in the form of the Project for a New American Century and the Heritage Foundation, corporatists at all levels, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Fascist ideologues, and Christocrats from the religious right. These and a myriad of other splinter groups have exposed the party’s core values at its most elemental and cellular level. The revelations of what their party truly stands for is causing a cognitive dissonance between what the party faithful thought they stood for and what the Republican Party is in reality. This is an irreparable systematic failure in voter support leading to the irreversible death of the Republican Party.
Illustration by Kevin Kallaugher©
From The Economist – August 18, 2007 The most obvious cause of the of the death of the modern day Republican Party can be directly linked to the failed presidency of George W. Bush and to “Bush’s Brain” the so-called “architect” of that failure, Karl Rove. But, it is the tangible damage to the social, support, and political systems of the Party by successive Republican administrations–administrations that have defined the values of Republicans–that is cause for the inevitable demise of the Republican Party. George W. Bush only serves to be the most visible, far-reaching, and worst offender; allowing us to focus on the symptomology to better define the multiple system failures that will result in the irreversible death of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party in Congress also bears significant responsibility in the irreversible death of its own body politic. Runaway spending, ballooning the debt with larded up pork barrel spending bills, “earmarks” growing over 1,000% from 1,300 in 1994 when Republicans took control of Congress, to over 14,000 in 2005, meddling in social affairs and the private lives of individuals, and the complete failure to hold a runaway, illegal administration accountable has exposed the soft underbelly of corruption and cronyism in the Republican Party. The Republican Congress’ abdication of its constitutional duties to provide oversight over the executive branch has added to significant losses in voter trust, support, and allegiance.
Richard Viguerie, direct mail guru and former chief philosophical and financial supporter of neoconservative Republicans, says from a C-SPAN appearance on July 7 of this year discussing his book, Conservatives Betrayed – How George W. Bush and other big government Republicans hijacked the conservative cause – “the conservative cause has been set back 5, 10, 20 years or never again!” Let me repeat that, Richard Viguerie, self-proclaimed Goldwater/Regan conservative who can rightly lay claim to have gotten Ronald Regan elected president, and current fan of Republican/Libertarian presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, is making the argument that conservatism in the form of the Republican Party may be irreparably damaged or, to make my argument, is suffering irreversible death. Viguerie is not alone in his anger over the betrayal of the conservative cause. Google® conservatives betrayed where you can choose from 1,610,000 hits. Clearly, there are a lot of vocal, visible, pissed-off Republicans! The anger that is leading to ever more increasing levels of disenfranchisement within the Republican Party is far more insidious and damaging at their core, at the cellular level of their belief system, than just that of an internal family fight or a struggle over ideology. The disintegration of their belief system is degrading all the others–social, support, and political–which foretells the irreversible death of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party leadership, in the form of the Bush White House, has broken faith with the republican voter, even alienating its most fervent republican voter base. Not unlike his father George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush ventured far from his campaign promises of no nation-building, of being “a uniter not a divider”, and to “uphold the honor and the dignity to the office of which I have been elected, so help me God.” By their words and actions many Republicans have routinely made headlines committing acts of hypocrisy and sexual misconduct, law breaking, ethics violations, vote stealing, corruption, cronyism and fraud that have caused the Republican electorate to begin to question their party. Adding to the criteria for the diagnosis of irreversible death of the Republican Party is the growing recognition of these offenses by its disinterested electorate – inactive genetic republicans who vote but otherwise are too busy to pay attention to politics and politicians. And now, the Republican Party’s grassroots organizations and operatives, its activists, and even its most ardent Kool-Aid® drinking base epitomized by the Christian right, the likes of Richard Viguerie, William F. Buckley, and George Will have begun to move purposefully and visibly away from the Republican Party. The growing recognition in these cellular republicans who do the walking and door knocking and phoning and donating and pontificating for the Republican Party are seeing Republican politicians and operatives regularly and routinely breaking faith with them. This has placed that “system” in increasing failure.
Perhaps one of the more egregious examples of breaking faith with their most ardent and faithful followers, early targets of Karl Rove, is the growing split between the Republican Party and the Christian Right. These so-called “values voters” mobilized in great numbers with tremendous efficacy and results in turning out the vote for Republican causes and candidacies. The four million or so evangelical Christian voters are universally regarded as providing the winning margin for Mr. Bush and the Republican Party in the 2004 election. Yet, we learn from David Kuo’s headline making book, Tempting Faith – The Inside Story of Political Seduction – that the Bush White House was cynically using religious faith and self-proclaimed “compassionate conservatism” for political gain. Mr. Kuo documents how operatives within the Bush administration and Washington in general referred to Christians as “useful idiots.” Feeling betrayed and abandoned many Christians are following David Kuo’s advice and taking a break from politics, eschewing voting, and keeping to their religious values by addressing issues of poverty, AIDs, and homelessness. This “time of clarity” and the shutting down of those support systems within the Christian Right which were famous for following Republican doctrine in lock-step will never again see their return to the Republican Party.
Republicans at the Gate – The beginning of the end
Finishing even the first part of this essay has been exceedingly difficult because everyday, sometimes by the hour as when last Saturday Sen. Larry Craig proclaimed, “I am not a homosexual” following his guilty plea and I intend to resign for soliciting man-sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, then, Monday it leaks he might not resign then, Tuesday, I’m not going to resign, then, Wednesday the “leaked” voicemail followed by pundits and experts vacillating between why he should resign and why he has a reasonable case not to resign, then, Thursday, he probably will resign and now, Friday, who the hell knows; the Republican Party continues to be the “gift that keeps on giving” to Democrats. More often than not it seems Republicans present their voters with a new scandal, a new set of lies and more misdirection, another mind-bending rationale for more war or violating the Constitution or letting 20-somethings run the government, etc., day-in and day-out. However, my thesis should not be construed as being singularly partisan as I will argue in the final installment of this series that everything happening to Republicans today are cautionary tales for Democrats and other progressive movements.
I will answer also more of the obvious push-backs to my thesis on the Irreversible Death of the Republican Party in part two of this essay. In Part 2, I will further explore the symptoms of “The Culture of Corruption” that defines the Republican Party and discuss “Brand Republican” as it relates to the eventual destruction of the Party . . . primarily from within. When I speak of the death of the Republican Party I am primarily referring to party identification and not the people or core conservatives. The brand name Republican Party will have disappeared before “conservatism” does. However, conservatism, too, will eventually go the way of the Dodo.
In Part 2, I wade into the cesspool of evidence that substantiates my argument for the eventual demise of the Republican Party from my contention that Republicanism has suffered the necessary criteria for irreversible death. Also in Part 2, I will show “symptoms” demonstrating that to be identified with the values and actions of the Republican Party – values that are contrary to most “right” thinking people – will steadily become untenable for all but the most committed, true believing, Kool-Aid® drinking Republican conservatives.
And finally, lest anyone think me naïve or a “True Believer” and Kool-Aid® drinker from the left I offer this. I am agonizingly aware of the cowardice, stupidity, and utter complicity with the Republican Party of my Democratic Party members in Congress and their heartbreaking, feckless, feeble, and ineffective attempts to exercise their constitutional duties over the Republicans in Congress and the Bush administration. Regardless that it was the Republicans who were in power, that it was the Republicans who decided who got what offices, what issues were or were not investigated in committee, and what got voted on and what didn’t. . .when Republicans denied hearing rooms to congressional Democrats such as Rep. John Conyers, forcing them to hold “forums” in the Capitol basement; when Republicans started gagging Democrats in committee and if they wouldn’t shut-up they just turned off their microphones, turned out the lights, and left as did Republican James Sensenbrenner to Democratic Congressman Jerold Nadler; our Democratic congressional representatives should have staged mass work stoppages, sit-ins, and had the “stones” to practice the same kind of civil disobedience that the average citizen does today to get attention. Instead, they just rolled over and took the arrogant abuse from Republicans time and again. And we all suffer.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
The Economist, www.economist.com
Conservatives Betrayed by Richard Viguerie, Bonus Books, 2006, www.ConservativesBetrayed.com
Tempting Faith by David Kuo, Free Press, 2006.
Artwork and posters from www.oldamericancentury.org
Merriam Webster Dictionary On-line, http://mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/system