Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's That Smell?

Anywhere across this great, fair land of ours, over the past eight months or so, you may have occasionally become aware of a strikingly offensive odor that seems to come out of nowhere with no warning whatsoever, assaulting your nostrils with its foul presence. No, it is not coming from this blog - my blog has only been around for a couple of months but thank you for your concern. You may have spent a bit of time wondering about the origin of the pungent fumes - after all, something that smells that bad kind of needs to be looked into, right? Well, worry no more: I am here to tell you that you need not be fretting over some approaching pestilence; rather, the smell indicates an existing pestilence is receding in your rear view mirror right now. That odor belongs to the Republican Party, sliding ever more rapidly into irrelevance and decay. And that is definitely a reason to rejoice.

It must be tough to be a die-hard Republican these days. A recent ABC News poll indicated that only 21% of Americans identify themselves as Republican, a 40-year low. Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania jumped ship to the Democrats at a critical juncture in time - now a filibuster-proof 60-vote Senate majority is tantalizingly within reach. The Republican National Committee has been floundering around like a beached whale trying to come up with a reason for its own survival. Its token-black chairman, Michael Steele, has made a bigger impression as a national laughing-stock than anything else. The new Obama administration has been diligently dismantling a number of legislative cornerstones of the Bush regime and many, many people agree that the last administration was one of the most damaging and disastrous in many decades. What, exactly, do they have to be proud of? Nothing much, by my reckoning.

But the most delightful thing about the Republican downfall is that it was entirely self-inflicted!! By aligning themselves with the most narrow-minded, reactionary, extreme right-wing fringes of our political landscape, they have increasingly marginalized and distanced themselves from the center, where most Americans are. People have come around to the understanding that Bush and his cohorts are largely responsible for the economic catastrophe that has nearly brought ruination to this country, and they rightfully blame the Republicans for it. The last election cycle proved that with crystal clarity. The Republicans are being taken to task for everything that is going wrong, and deservedly so.

Republicans have always been undisputed experts at appealing to the basest, lowest instincts of people. Their unholy alliance with Christian fundamentalists has had its biggest success in thoroughly corrupting and co-opting the message of religion. They loudly demand that parents have the choice of sending their children to religious schools, with the taxpayers picking up the bills in the form of vouchers, but stridently seek to deny over half the population of the United States the choice to determine their own reproductive destinies. By fanning the flames of bigotry and intolerance they frighten voters into passing highly regressive laws which institutionalize discrimination and prevent consenting adults of the same gender from having their relationships recognized. Similarly, by instilling and invoking fear and hatred, they seek to demonize large segments of the population whose only desire is to come to this country and make a better life. They convince poor farmers in the Midwest to vote against their own economic best interests by claiming to be the last defense against the vast hordes of pagans, atheists, child molesters and pederasts who are all living for the day when they can take over the schools and corrupt the lives of children everywhere. They do that while rejecting the theory of evolution despite overwhelming scientific evidence, and push the flimsy, ridiculous concept of "intelligent design."

For a long time that strategy worked, but no more. At its very core the Republican party is the party of negativism and deconstruction. Fear is its lifeblood, and it lives not to build up but to tear down. Instead of building bridges and finding ways to unite people for the common good, it strives to pull people apart, separating the entire population into "us" and "them" in the pursuit of their own self-serving agendas.

The basic, elemental mendacity of the Republican party is something they can never fully cover up or suppress, no matter how hard they try. Like a virulent variation of the influenza virus, their profound spiritual and intellectual bankruptcy always finds a way to break out. They claim to be the "party of Lincoln," but I can think of no more extreme slur against the memory of our 16th president - the present-day Republican has almost nothing in common with Lincoln. And the higher the stakes, the lower you can count on the Republican Party to go in order to get or retain power. The last election saw the execrable Sarah Palin regurgitated onto the national scene, a low-rent, soulless, shrill Barbie doll with absolutely no discernible talent or intellect. That any national party would seriously nominate an empty, brain-dead cipher like her to the second-highest office in the land speaks volumes of the debasement and dissolution that permeates the Republican soul. Years ago, the freak show that was the Nixon administration had one of the most psychopathic, disturbed individuals to ever occupy the Oval Office, and the Reagan presidency had an evil, Alzheimer's-addled curmudgeon at its head who half the time had no idea where or who he was. When you are as rotten to the core as the Republican party is, the virulence will always find a way to surface.

One of the most satisfying amusements in life is schadenfreude, which is the great old German word for "taking pleasure from the misfortunes of others." There are plenty of entities in the modern world which, when bad things happen to them, cause me great, unbridled, gleeful joy. Big tobacco, big oil, and anyone or anything involved in animal exploitation, to name a few, are very ripe, deserving targets of derision. I try to avoid enjoying the problems of individual persons but there are exceptions, such as the dimwitted, petulant Bimbolina at the recent Miss USA contest who expressed her support for "opposite marriage," whatever that is, and then bleated like a stuck pig when she came in second. But her deep, debilitating ignorance makes her an unsatisfying critical target; it's like making fun of the mentally-challenged. Not cool and not fun. But right now I can think of no institution more worthy of a heaping-helping of schadenfreude than the Republican party. The fact that they have a repellent, drug-addicted blowhard like Rush Limbaugh as their spokesperson and de facto spiritual leader shows just how corrupt, out-of-step and irrelevant they are. Just as the Republican National Convention last summer showed hundreds of ancient, crotchety old men and their puckered, desiccated wives wearing "Drill Baby Drill" buttons, the present-day party has proven itself to be the bastion of backward-looking, discredited and disastrous policies. They claim to support the American family, but their domestic economic policies are without a doubt extremely anti-child and anti-family. But like a moldering old vampire in the movies, you can never count them as being completely dead. Maybe the Republicans will realize the utter, total failure of their policies and reinvent themselves into something relevant and worth listening to, but as of right now, they richly deserve every bad thing that happens to them. And I will be enjoying every last second of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment