In the golden days of newspapers, the great columnists, such as Walter Lippmann and James “Scotty” Reston, would step back and assess the panorama of unfolding events.
For the first time since November 2010, I now believe the most likely outcome of the 2012 elections is that Barack Obama will be reelected president, Harry Reid will be returned as Senate majority leader, and Nancy Pelosi will regain the gavel as Speaker of the House.
It is far too early to predict the 2012 elections. But I suggest that Reid is rocking, Pelosi is rolling and Democrats are rising — they are now the only party that believes in the big-tent philosophy, while Republicans are hostage to Taliban-like factions that view politics as religious wars and cult conflicts, beginning with intolerance and ending with purges of demonized viewpoints.
For many years I have worked for, and been close to, Democratic leaders in Congress. An article of faith for both House and Senate Democrats has been a tolerance and welcoming of diversity of background and viewpoint, in the caucus and the country. This respect for diversity has been the core of what Democrats stand for.
Republicans, especially Ronald Reagan, once embraced this notion of big-tent parties in a big-tent nation. No longer. The GOP is now dominated by a cult-like intolerance. Liberal Republicanism is dead. Moderate Republicans are despised.
Imagine this: A young woman offers her views about contraceptives. The most prominent media megaphone for Republicans calls her a whore, and the son of George Romney was so afraid of the beast of intolerance that George Romney courageously condemned that he could only suggest a better choice of words might have been used.
The new GOP is hostage to factions that believe the very notion of a big-tent party is un-American. These self-appointed enforcers of Americanism and Christianity distort Americanism and Christianity, in the name of Americanism and Christianity, and then seek to purge the GOP of those they deem unworthy of the party.
When I refer to this Taliban-like GOP faction, I mean those who do not believe the GOP or the nation should be a mosaic of differing people with different views, but should be cult-like battle zones fighting holy-war conflicts with winner-take-all attacks savaging other Republicans and fellow Americans.
Opposing the American notion of separation of church and state? Insulting the Statue of Liberty with intolerance that offends the great population wave of Hispanics? Waging wars against health programs serving women who are the majority of voters in ways reminiscent of the 19th century? Hating collective bargaining with the passion of the robber barons with such aggression that their unfriendly fire wounds police, teachers, firefighters, nurses and librarians?
Several weeks ago I referred to this attitude in a column as a “GOP death march” because:
This faction takes reasonable disagreements among reasonable people and transfigures them into, first, attacks against the patriotism and faith of others, and then into purges in which many who once shared the “big tent” GOP are no longer welcome in the party. Political independents are alienated by attitudes they consider repulsive, obnoxious and alien to their simple hopes for civic good will, shared patriotism and a better life.
After last year’s debt-ceiling fiasco, President Obama toughened and sharpened his vision of his presidency. I believe historians will applaud this major inflection point.
As Republicans spend vast sums of dirty money to slander each other, Reid is rocking, Pelosi is rolling and Democrats are rising. Why? They believe in a big-tent party in a big-tent nation that will choose problem-solving by Democrats over the vindictive venom of the GOP.