Monday, April 18, 2011
The Party's Over
I wanted to take a second to briefly follow-up Saturday's post that highlighted racism within the Republican/Tea Party. It sparked a heated debate both via e-mail and over at my Facebook page.
Listen, no one's making the accusation that all members of the GOP, or even members of the Tea Party, are racist. Far from it. But I've said it before and I think it bears repeating that the Tea Party as a political movement absolutely has its roots in a certain amount of racism and xenophobia -- and it's not something that can be squelched by the argument that there are a couple of Tea Party darlings who happen to be black (Allen West, Herman Cain). The fact is that the Tea Party came to be only after Barack Obama became president; no one made the decision that he or she had had enough and needed to join with like-minded individuals to "fight back" against government waste and overreach until the person supposedly behind it wasn't the traditional, aging white Christian male who had occupied the White House since the thing was built. George W. Bush presided over the most egregious increase in governmental authority and the most awesome waste of taxpayer dollars in memory, and yet it wasn't until the guy in power represented the changing, now-multicultural face of America that anyone decided they'd had enough.
As a movement and at face value, the Tea Party has no issue with blacks or Hispanics or anyone else; what it represents, though, is a stand against an America that now no longer keeps minorities "in their place." Basically, if you're black and buy into the far-right mentality, which once again as an entity states that old white guys should be in charge because they represent the "real America," then you're okay; but God help you if you're multicultural and see the world from a perspective that can't be summed up in a catchy phrase that fits neatly on a bumper sticker, because you're illegitimate.
Add to that the fact that the GOP has been hijacked by the lowest common denominator among those who classify themselves as conservative and you've got a recipe for the polar opposite of progress. What you have is a bunch of people straining to hold onto a reality that simply doesn't exist anymore. The brand of politics the GOP now embraces as a rule has drifted so far from the hyper-intellectualism once championed by people like William F. Buckley that it's almost impossible to reconcile what we're currently witnessing with the storied history of conservatism in America.
Really, think about this for a moment: Public Policy Polling currently has Donald Trump running well above the rest of the possible Republican contenders in the upcoming White House race. Trump, a self-obsessed reality TV star with a checkered past and three bankruptcies under his belt, is potentially -- should he not be pulling everyone's chain in an effort to increase the Q-score of his brand -- the GOP nominee for president. The same poll finds that 23% of Republican voters say they won't vote for someone who believes that Barack Obama is an American citizen.
This is what the Republicans, via the Tea Party and its irrepressible and unfocused rage, have become. This is the global punchline a once-great political party has morphed into.
And to those on the left, center-left, or independent who claim to be so disappointed in Barack Obama's performance as president that they're willing to support an ineffectual third-party candidate or simply sit out the 2012 election altogether as a show of protest -- think about the potential cost of doing so. Please, think good and hard about it.