Redefining Republicanism

Redefining Republicanism

Oklahoma’s own Will Rogers made ample use of the Law of Holes adage “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!”  There isn’t really  a dearth of such common sense under that big dome on Capitol Hill.  It has simply taken a back seat to political expedience or, more accurately, political survival.  Republicans at all levels of government are reading the writing on the wall and have gotten themselves on board with an unnecessary and unpopular tax cut.  I have been laying low and taking due note of how this newly minted legislation was packaged as “tax reform” and how it stacks up in the eyes of the American public when compared to previous such measures.  Make no mistake, this legislation was not needed as much as it was wanted, wanted by a flailing administration and its struggling Congressional compatriots craving something that resembles anything they can hold up to their constituents as a “success.”  It was presented under the guise of “budget reconciliation” and was needed only to compensate for the failure of everything else this GOP-controlled Congress has come up short on.  Chief among those failures was the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  Forget the fact the *President Trump’s claims about it don’t add up.

Forget the fact that this “tax reform” is going to add a trillion plus dollars to the national debt.  Forget that a couple of months ago that U.S. unemployment dropped to the lowest point since the Nixon Administration.  This legislation has become the proverbial life ring to help incumbent Republicans keep their job.  Next year the GOP will be defending twenty-six Senate seats to the Dems eight.  They should be delighted and angst-free sitting in the fabled Catbird seat but no, they are filled with consternation at the prospect of swimming in deep electoral water handcuffed to a President whose popularity is sinking like an untethered battleship’s anchor.

Just about everyone in my demographic remembers 1981 when President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office and brought along with him on his coattails a legion of Conservative thinkers whose radical ideas were heralded as the finest medicine to remedy the nation’s then stagnant economy.  The top item on their list of how to fix America was cutting taxes.  To be fair they pushed cutting spending too, but that was simply not heard as clearly nor was it as well received as was emptying out the Treasury with giving money back to taxpayers.  After all, increasing the national debt by trillions of dollars was an abstract concept to most voters as they cannot immediately see or feel the effects of it on their own financial bottom line the way they could with an in-your-face tax rebate.  The Reaganites carried with them convincing evidence to sway enough Congressional Democrats to make his vision of “Voodoo Economic” tax cuts become reality.  After passing huge tax cuts in 1981 they did it again in 1986.  Father Time has his way of aging things.  It seems that he has aged the Republican Party years beyond its usefulness as stewards of viable governing ideas as their favorite modus operandi of “cut taxes, deregulate, repeat” believe it or not has an end point.  I say this because the World of 2017 is very different than it was thirty years ago and this is NOT Ronald Reagan’s tax reform!  One thing that stands out is that this brand spanking new tax cut has become law without the support of one single member of the minority party.    

The latest debacle for the GOP was the failure to claim victory in a can’t-lose special election in the reddest of red states.  Last week in Alabama a very flawed candidate, one who captured  the GOP nomination despite the best efforts of even the sitting *President to thwart, went down to substantial defeat to a moderate Democrat, the first Dem to win an Alabama U.S. Senate race in twenty-five years.  All the false piety in the face of so many sexual predator claims aside, Judge Roy Moore’s greatest handicap was his history of having been removed from the state supreme court bench twice for failing to follow the law.

Overall though, Doug Jones had a much better ground game.  Even though it may remain to be seen if Senator-elect Jones can repeat such a performance when he runs for reelection, to say such a Democratic victory in bright red Alabama got the attention of many is an understatement.  If the resounding sweep of Democratic victories in Virginia last mouth was an outlier or an aberration, the trend seems to be increasing in places where Democrats have long been the perennial underdog at the ballot box.

Even in deep red all Republican-led Oklahoma the GOP has a growing image problem.  The Republican governor has been forced to call yet a second special session at a cost to Sooner State taxpayers of some $30K per day so the Republican majority pro-business geniuses of each chamber can work out a viable budget in order to fund core government services.  I am a life-long Oklahoman and I cannot recall a time when two special legislative sessions were called in the same year to resolve an impasse regarding the state budget!  (If someone can remember such a time previous then mea culpa!)  Sorry Mr. House Speaker, crying BS and blaming the minority party for declining to back your ill conceived policy ideas does not qualify as leadership!  After nearly eight years in control of all levers of government in this state, the people of Oklahoma deserve better or at very least a legislature that functions at a bare minimum level.  Public schools deserve adequate funding to provide their students a five day school week.  Infrastructure requires basic maintenance so not to fail all those using it on a daily basis and professionals caring for indigent citizens need their reimbursements so they can stay in business.  Forget any of the social issue side shows that go along with any legislative session.  Without a bare basic budget lofty platitudes and proclamations of whatever values the majority espouses amount to nothing but so much hot air.  So, what does all this say about the overall state of the Oklahoma Republican Party and its quality of governance in 2017 from the office of County Clerk to the Governor’s Mansion?

I recall a number of GOP campaigns in years past touting their candidates as “proven business leaders” and their party as the one of “conservative small government.”  They seem to have ultimately delivered fiscal management incompetence and inept government.  I remember just about all GOP candidates for just about every office selling themselves as America-First Defense Hawks and declaring themselves to be four square in the corner of Law & Order.  How is it then, when it comes to the legitimate investigation of a foreign power’s malicious influence on the 2016 U.S. General Election, those “Law & Order” Republicans and their media mouthpieces (some of whom have gone so far as to accuse the Special Counsel of orchestrating a coup on the Administration) have become highly critical of the motives and tactics of a Republican-appointed life-long Republican Special Counsel and the FBI (of all agencies) whose findings of unlawful activity are getting uncomfortably close to operatives and family members of the Electoral College Presidential vote winner?  I see this brand of thinking as what I called it a few months ago when I seriously posed the query Does the end justify the means?  The problem is that selling out the country may be among the least of our collective worries.  The World has kept spinning for friend and foe alike while the American body politic has foundered amid increasing polarization and overall disunity as anything resembling effective leadership has been remarkably absent.

Now we find ourselves on the precipice of facing the results of unpopular legislation pushed by so many Republicans who heretofore proclaimed themselves to be against anything that increased the national debt.  It is not a far stretch to see that many of those GOP “YES” voters may find the liability associated with it to be a hard thing to shake.

Not everybody but certainly enough voters to matter have taken due note of how far Republicanism has departed from useful ideas that serve the many before the few.  The stage is set for the Democratic Party to recapture the air of populism they failed to capitalize on in 2016.  As I have indicated, not everyone may agree but there are certainly enough voters who do to matter.  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has illustrated how the deluge of a Democratic blue wave is building strength toward the 2018 midterms.

Rachel Maddow:  “Huge number of Democratic challengers in 2018”

So where does all this leave what used to be the formerly respected and admired Party of Lincoln?  Call it my own personal feeling of nostalgia but I am not crowing about the mess that has become the U.S. Republican Party.  Much like the Democrats had to do after losing so many elections, they are going to have to undergo their sojourn of wandering in the proverbial electoral wilderness and reinvent themselves before again becoming a serious contender.  Regardless of how they may see themselves now, the GOP is doing far too much real damage to remain in control much longer.  It is however not like anyone isn’t doing anything about it.  According to Rachel Maddow there are 391 Democratic candidates already declared for 2018 compared to 71 GOP, and that was only for Congress as of the end of September.  The pendulum of one-party rule is about to swing back to the middle of the spectrum and on to the left of it with a rare vengeance.  Believe me, the Blue Wave is coming!



1 Comment

  1. Carl A.
    Dec 21, 2017

    Ah, but if Republicans can manage to fire a >Republican< Special Counsel, and bring criminal indictments against his aides (as well as other key members of the FBI), then who's to say that Democratic Senators and Legislators will not be next? After all, ANYONE can be criminally indicted…

    When you redefine Republicanism into Fascism – without a name change – there are simply no boundaries left that cannot fall.

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