Grand Old Party
Born March 20, 1854
Died October 9, 2016
Epitaph: “Victim of Cowardice”
Dearly beloved, we are called here to mourn the passing of the Republican Party, a tragic victim of cowardice. Do not be fooled by the dead-eyed zombie shuffling toward the election. Its heart stopped working long ago.
A party that knew right from wrong, people who once put the country ahead of itself, died, diapered, whimpering sycophants. Even in their final wheezing last breaths, some, in the last vestiges of defiance mistaken for courage, pledged allegiance to their assailant, Donald J. Trump. Victims all, of Stockholm Syndrome, willingly stripped of their humanity.
But let us not forget the party once stood for decency. Republicanism was founded in opposition of slavery. Like all parties, this Grand Old Party made some regretful decisions, like opening its doors to the racists and bigots cast off by the Democratic Party through the civil rights movement.
Even while erring, the deceased, in its prime, had courage. They nominated Barry Goldwater, for heaven’s sake! Even if his rhetoric frightened people, you couldn’t question his love of country. Exhibiting common sense and guts, he rejected the toxicity of religion in the party, masking intolerance and repression. The party recovered from Goldwater’s crash, nurtured by the likes of William F. Buckley, whose ideas might be challenged, but not his sense of decorum.
Ronald Reagan’s instincts ended the Cold War. True, also, is that his unwitting, hands-off approach began the slow strangulation of the middle class. Reagan’s legacy also includes the creation of the false narrative that government couldn’t get anything right, poisoning the well we drink from today.
George Herbert Walker Bush showed leadership when he repudiated the tax Reagan cuts. But later, Grover Torquiest demanded pledges from politicians to never raise taxes. Never. For any reason. This is where the real seeds of cowardice were born, an erosion of independent thought. Doing the fiscally responsible thing cost 41 the election, but before he bowed out, he showed mastery of foreign affairs, building an international coalition that not only drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait but shared in the cost.
Let us not forget Ike. Who didn’t like Ike, a warrior become president who invigorated the country with jobs and infrastructure like no one since FDR. With his parting words, he warned of the insidious nature of the military industrial complex for whom war is good business. A man who put love of country first. Ahead of greed.
Alas, the Halliburtons of the world are still with us, still fat on the spoils of a pre-emptive war, engineered by Dick Cheney and his dupe, George W. Bush, the son who failed to heed the lessons of his father and ushered in the concept of pre-emptive war at the cost of millions of lives and trillions of dollars. If it is possible to set those sins aside, if there can be redemption for foolish inattention to detail, few doubted Dubya’s intent and inherent compassion.
A growing estrangement and disregard for the American people became more evident when the Republican Party vowed to bring Barack Obama down, even if it meant dragging the country down with him. Fueled by a new mantra that money equals free speech, the party grew intemperate and arrogant. The party gleefully welcomed a Tea Party it viewed as useful idiots, only to see the mutineers turn on it.
Traditional Republicans became RINOs because they were moderate. Because they refused to embrace extremism and the abandonment of reason. They rejected the new infusion of racism masked as legitimate political discourse.
The airwaves, polluted by the toxicity of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, combined with the willful ignorance and blind obedience of the congregation, helped pave the way for Donald Trump, a man loose with morals and the truth, a man bereft of character. In the end, suicidal abandonment of principles killed the party. Donald Trump was just the gun on the nightstand.
It’s sad because through much of its existence, the deceased exhibited genuine stodgy decency, sound fiscal thinking, an ideal of personal responsibility and pragmatic foreign policy. But ultimately, The Republican Party surrendered its moral compass. When winning became the sole objective over principle, everyone lost.
The Republican Party once had the courage to stand up for Americans. That changed. The party started defending abuse of its own citizens. It looked the other way. No longer kinder and gentler, it grew meaner and hard-hearted. Republicans were too busy to be “politically correct,” a dismissive euphemism for decency. They claimed to love America but like any abuser, actions speak louder than words.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” And so it is here.
The real Republican Party will be missed. This grotesque, bitter, soulless corpse will not. There are no vital signs. This thrashing about — nothing but death throes.
Bury the coffin deep, fellas.
And God bless America.
© Tony Bender, 2016