There's a persistent notion floating around that the current Republican Party is an anomaly; that Trump & Co. aren't representative of who Republicans are and what they stand for.
This morning, in fact, I read an op-ed piece that concluded with a nod to this notion. "It's an embarrassment," the writer opined, "to the once-good name of the Republican Party." And I often hear that sentiment from political commentators on CNN and MSNBC who seem to think there was some golden era when Republicans and Democrats could be depended upon to work together for the good of the country, when right wingers merely engaged in polite disagreements with Democrats before joining them in seeking compromises.
Chris Mathews, for one, loves to hearken back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when he was working for Tip O'Neil, when Tip and the beloved Gipper could just laugh and talk and clap one another on the back, have a couple of drinks, dispute what was best for "the people," and then depart as pals who liked and respected one another. Such a warm and fuzzy time, and not so very long ago.
But if we're honestly looking for a Republican Party that had a "good name," we're going to have to go back before I was born, and that was long before Reagan showed up. And yeah, I know Eisenhower did some good stuff (though how thoroughly Republican he was, even then, could be disputed). Even Nixon did some good stuff, though he was as crooked as a dog's hind leg, and as nasty as they come.
For me, the Republican Party hasn't had a good name since the last of the pre-Civil War abolitionists were dying off in the early 20th century.
For me, the Republican Party hasn't had a good name since the last of the pre-Civil War abolitionists were dying off in the early 20th century. You'd have a hard time convincing me that many of them who came after Teddy Roosevelt were worth the powder to blow 'em away. I only find one enduring, consistent, and guiding principle Republicans have adhered to since then, and that is the their staunch commitment to the richest Americans, to making them richer, and to enriching themselves as they do.
The G.O.P. doesn't seem like a Grand Old Party to guys like me. Greed On Principle would be closer to defining them, and there's not a damn bit of Grandness in any of that enslavement to and worship of the almighty dollar. Anyone looking for verification of the notion that money is the root of all evil need look no further than how much evil is done by Republicans, not just currently, but over the past century, as they rooted around for more and more cash for themselves and their donors.
You could throw some Democrats in that mix, too, of course, because we refused to fix our campaign financing system, and the reason we won't fix what is so clearly broken is that so many are enriched by it. Corruption works, but no matter how many benefit, it always winds up destroying democracy and screwing the majority.
There will be people, even among progressives, who will remember a favorite old "moderate" Republican from the long ago days--Rockefeller, maybe, or Edward Brooke, or even crusty ol'Everett Dirksen, perhaps--but I'm not inclined to go there, or to believe that an occasional visit to the Land of Common Decency or a vote for something that isn't written by lobbyists or engendered in a corporate boardroom makes up for a whole lot of war profiteering, jingoism, racism, dirty tricks, union busting, rank hypocrisy and the rest of that vast smorgasbord of Republican chicken shit laid out over and over again as chicken salad.
Now that the mask is off revealing Trump and Mnuchin as the face of the party, along with people like David Duke, Falwell Jr., Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and Tammy Faye Baker's sleazy old husband in the pea nuttier gallery, the more genteel reactionaries are trying to disassociate themselves from men (and women) who lack the class that once was used to sell Republican country club values to the booboisie, all that high tone Yale-y stuff from guys like William Buckley, the patrician's patrician. But no matter how you spread the fertilizer, it's the same old manure, generation to generation, whether it's Buckley's ostentatious use of vocabulary, Will's gentleman's club diction, or the inane incoherence of George W. Bush or Donald J. Trump. Scrape away the bullshit and it's always about the bottom line, and I don' t mean yours or mine. From Hoover (Herbert) right on down through Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Dubya's daddy, Cheney, and McConnell/Ryan, the game has always been much the same, and the pecuniary goal of their game, too. Them with the most money wins.
Now, however, they no longer see any need for a charm offensive. No more need to make nice, or even to pretend they aren't about the business of ripping us all off. Hell, they've seen what they can get away with, and how brazenly.
As the experts in connivery and thievery, Republicans long ago purloined the flag, the church, family values, respect and regard for veterans, patriotism, fiscal responsibility, and a strong national defense. Anyone willing to look at history, from Hoover onward, will find that they've never been faithful to any of those virtues or values. It's just that they used to give lip service to all these things, to sing the praises of the intelligence services, for instance, or to get verklempt in front of their constituents about "our brave fighting men" right after casting votes to cut benefits to vets.
Now they no longer see the need for the play acting, no longer feel that a wary electorate might see some faint contradiction between claiming to be "family values" people even while lending unwavering support for child molesters, serial adulterers, and flagrant pussy grabbers.
Republicans also touted their respect for the "rule of law," and the Constitution, but they've finally admitted with their usual hypocritical arrogance that anytime the rule of law gets in the way of profits or privilege for the few, they'll abandon that regard for the law in a New York minute, rewrite the law in ways that violate the Constitution, or simply break the law and hope no one notices. Failing that, there's always the option of appointing Attorneys General willing to turn a blind eye to their crimes.
Respect and support for veterans? Get serious. Herbert Hoover sicced the military on the Bonus Army veterans who had come to D.C. in the early days of the depression demanding an early dispensing of the bonuses they had been promised for their service in World War I. Hoover had helped cause that depression (as Republicans so often do). Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur drove his fellow vets out of their makeshift "Hooverville" with cruel and brutal force, along with many of their wives and children. Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton, two Republicans under his command, assisted in teaching their fellow vets a hard lesson in proper respect for the commander in chief. More recently, veterans like Senator Tom Cotton have shown similar indifference to their comrades in arms. Cotton has earned the justifiable ire of an array of veterans groups, including VoteVet. Cotton's in the high cotton now, so how his fellow vets get along is their look out.
As for fiscal responsibility, it's difficult to even type those words in piece about Republicans. Under the execrably incompetent George W. Bush, we got an enormous tax break for the wealthy, followed by an unnecessary war that ran up the debt. Something vaguely and far in excess of a trillion bucks was spent to no discernible good purpose, though it did buy the nation and the world the very thing Osama bin Laden had hoped for, which was America acting like a bull in an Islamic china shop, breaking stuff right and left, creating ISIS, and ensuring at least a generation or two of embittered jihadis in pursuit of revenge for dead relatives killed by Americans, the "Great Satan." Not a good return on investment, and surely no argument for how fiscally responsible Republicans were under Bush/Cheney misrule when hard cash in the hundreds of millions of dollars mysteriously vanished, never to be accounted for, pallets full of long green gone missing with no one, apparently giving a good goddamn.
It was more than two decades ago (egads!) when James Carville reminded us all that "it's the economy, stupid," thus attempting to direct and focus the always-scattered attention of Democrats. Republicans never need to be reminded of the fact that it was always about the money, no matter what else they brought up to try to divert us from their primary motivation, not to mention their secondary and tertiary motives.
I'm at a loss to come up with a word with positive connotations that can be applied to Republicans. Honor, integrity, honesty, forthrightness, decency. Are you kidding? But when it comes to whoring, you gotta admit they give full value for what they're paid. The return on investments is bountiful, for the Koch brothers and the others who solicit these whores, singly or in lots.
It's been a long and steep descent for the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, a drop hastened and darkened by people like Tail Gunner Joe McCarthy and his flying monkey, Roy Cohn (a mentor to a younger Donald Trump). The slide down that scummy slippery slope sped us to Nixon, Agnew, Gingrich, Bush/Cheney, and the legions of venal and nasty creeps, war profiteers, water polluters, tax evaders, "patriots" who off shore jobs without a thought for their country, religious hypocrites, the Tea Party cretins, and assorted thugs in expensive suits who helped take us to Trump.
But let's not be tricked into believing Trump represents any real re-definition or deviation from the "once-good name" of the Republican Party. It's been the Same Old Shit for a very long time. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
They've just passed a bill to remind us of who they were, have been, and still are. Merry Christmas, suckers.