I don't know how this keeps happening. Many of you possibly remember my post of January 6, 2013, politely refusing my generous invitation to join the NRA. Well, this time, I have received a personal invitation from the chair of the Republican National Committee to "renew my membership" in the party, even though "my name is not among the active Republicans in Racine." I am not sure why his missive assumes that I have ever been a "card-carrying member" of the GOP. Anyone who has even has the slightest idea of my ideological and political persuasion could never have imagined that I was ever a Republican, < My parents would spin in their graves and haunt me for the rest of my life.> even in those long-ago days when the GOP was a legitimate political party with a genuine--though largely wrong-headed-- commitment to "the general welfare." I have known and worked with a number of genuine Republicans; most are appalled at the perverse caricature of a responsible political party that has subverted their organization, and made a mockery of its principles. I am not in the least surprised that Mr. Priebus has emerged as the leader of this despicable remnant of what was once a tolerably responsible and reasonable "loyal opposition."
I am perplexed that the current chairman has allowed this letter to be sent over his signature. I first became aware of him in 2010 when he waged a vicious and thoroughly dishonest campaign against the election of State Senator Bob Wirch, one of the most decent and upright public officials that I have ever had the honor of knowing. Based upon Priebus's "mud-slinging" television spots and public appearances, I marked him as one of the slickest and sleaziest snake oil salesmen I had ever encountered. Everything that he has done and said since then has only reinforced that initial repulsion. God help me, he has even caused me to nurture at least a grudging respect for the "integrity" of Nixon, Reagan, and "W."
The type of Republican that I have respected in the past has been marginalized or destroyed by the right-wing reactionaries/anarchists. The saga of that hijacking is spelled out in graphic detail by Geoffrey Kabaservice in his Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party. He forthrightly acknowledges that the party's moderates themselves played an unwitting role in their own destruction by helping to propel Newt Gingrich and his supporters into control of the House of Representatives in 1985. Like the moderates and conservatives in Germany who allowed Hitler to assume power because they believed that they could "control" him, mainstream Republicans of the mid-1980s calculated that Gingrich could help
forge a coalition that would end forty years of Democratic rule. They ignored the warning of minority leader Robert Michel, who "embodied the moderate's political sensibility," that House Republicans "also have an obligation to the American people," and to be "responsible participants in the process." They soon discovered, as Kabaservice cogently asserts, that "there were few things more dangerous than getting what you want." They failed "to protest as Mr. Gingrich transformed their party into an ideological faction and set it on its present course of anti-government radicalism." Republican Congressional moderates loyally and unwittingly followed Gingrich's lead, but the new Speaker "couldn't control the troops on his right flank because their real loyalty lay not with the party, but with the conservative movement." Even before databases and computers, and "gerrymander-loving legislatures allowed Republicans to draw safe conservative districts, the true believers enjoyed the support of a vast right-wing infrastructure of outside donors, highly motivated grass-roots supporters, think tanks, and media outlets." As the party's demographic base continues to shrink, he laments, the GOP "won't change course until the Gingrich strategy for winning House elections stop working."
His analysis was mirrored in an October 22, 2013 Op-Ed piece in the New York Times entitled "The Cry of the True Republican." The true Republican in question was John G.Taft, who styled himself "a genetic Republican," and that "five generations of Tafts have served our nation as unswervingly stalwart Republicans." His great, great, great grandfather, Alphonso, was a confidant of Abraham Lincoln and one of the founders of the Republican Party in the 1850s. His great grandfather, William Howard, was the only man ever to be both President and Chief Justice.
His grandfather, Robert, Sr., was the party's three-time presidential candidate and long-time minority leader of the Senate in the 1940s and 50s. He was universally regarded as "Mr. Republican." His father, Robert, Jr., was also a U.S., while his cousin was two-term Republican governor of Ohio. If his grandfather, "Mr. Republican," were alive today, John Taft insists, "I can assure you that he wouldn't even recognize the modern Republican Party, which has repeatedly brought the United States of America to the edge of a fiscal cliff--seemingly with every intention of pushing us off the edge." The Republican Party, he intones, "is (or should be) about responsible behavior," and "is (or should be), at long last, about decency" As a progressive, I have mixed emotions about the impact of the Taft dynasty upon the development of our country, but I, at the very least have to give them this: They wanted to govern the country, not destroy it.
Not so Mr. Priebus and his merry band of fanatics. The opening salvo of his invitation to me asserts that "President Obama is moving at a shocking rate to further expand government until America is unrecognizable." He assails Obama's "failed left-wing policies." < Obama a "left winger"? Not according to any definition of left-wingers of which I am aware. I proudly acknowledge my own "left-wing" proclivities and insist that the President, to my sorrow and frustration, much more resembles those long-ago moderate Republicans with whom Messrs. Kabaservice and
Taft nostalgically identify.> The letter asserts that we "are now in a virtually hand-to-hand battle for the very survival of the America you and I love." The most immediate goal for 2014 is to win control of the Senate, and "effectively cut President Obama's term in half, and end his drive to give government control over all aspects of your life." My "urgently needed support will also help conservative candidates, from the grassroots up," because we "are refocusing and rebuilding our Party on the conservative principles that will slam the brakes on the skyrocketing $17 trillion national debt and improve the lives of average Americans." Our goal, he reiterates is nothing short of winning a victory that will permanently end President Obama's drive for socialist-style policies, restart real economic growth and repeal and replace Obamacare with a market-based system." <Isn't that the system we already have, save for Medicare, Medicaid, "socialized medical care" for members of Congress, the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, and some veterans? This is the system that has consistently been ranked the most expensive and least effective among the OECD nations?> With my membership, I can help the GOP "seize control of the Senate and maintain our Majority in the House by making sure these Democrats are held responsible for the devastating impact of Obamacare <Isn't it still in its registration phase, and hasn't its legitimacy been upheld by both houses of Congress and by the Supreme Court?>, and the deepening economic misery caused by President Obama and Harry Reid? <Those two did it all by themselves, without any help from "W', Wall Street, the Tea Party, and a whole raft of Republican legislators and administrators?>
Mr. Priebus concludes by asking if I "am not troubled by how President Obama is shredding the Constitution by ignoring and not enforcing laws he doesn't like and appointing judges who want to rewrite the Constitution <Actually, that sounds a lot like the current conservative Republican majority on the Supreme Court.>? If so, "it is imperative that you answer today." So I guess that I should RSVP my regrets, ASAP.