Back in January, I lamented about the lack of a loyal opposition party in the United States. We have a diverse group of Democrats encompassing what used to be the entire political spectrum, and we have a group of Republicans who have morphed into an extremist group that used to be labeled as the fringe. Since my previous post, things have gotten uglier and more dangerous.
One could conceivably understand the Republicans’ stubbornness when they dug in their heels over health care and held up an unprecedented number of the President’s nominations for confirmation. But now that health care is done, the Republican actions have gotten worse. The Republicans in the Senate are using an obscure rule to stop all work after 2:00 PM, forgetting the job that their constituents sent them to Washington to do. The child-like name calling on the floor of the House, started by Joe “You Lie” Wilson continues. But the most significant recent change in the Republican meme is their embracing of the actions of the Tea Party and other violent extremist groups. This goes beyond the disgusting portrayal of Obama as Hitler or the incessant name calling of “socialist” and “fascist”. Sarah Palin uses not-so-subtle references to firearms to identify “targets” of Democratic representatives who voted for the health care bill. Tea partiers and their ilk use racial and homophobic epithets on members of Congress, blocking their way into the Capitol. And yet, not one single Republican leader has unequivocally denounced these hideous tactics. It is clear that the Republican Party, including its leadership, has been hijacked by the lunatic fringe, at least at the national level.
The great Republican guru, Grover Norquist, is quoted as saying that he would like to see government shrink to a size where he could drown it in a bathtub. (I guess he never drives on government-funded roads, never uses medicines developed by government-funded research, and would not call 911 if his house were burglarized). Years ago, Norquist’s attitude would have been looked on as extreme. Now, within the Republican Party, it is mainstream.