The Republican Party is struggling to find its identity. Long known as the party of the conservative movement it is now just as likely to be viewed as the home of anti-government radicals and fanatics. The Tea Party movement has so successfully inserted itself into the very fabric of the party that there are now two Republican Parties: the “Tea Party Republicans” on the far right and the “Traditional Republicans” of the more moderate persuasion. .
The Tea Partiers have seized the upper hand and used their influence over party leadership to bring the government to a halt. They have vaulted their political candidates into the spotlight. Palin, Bachman and now Perry all share their radical ideals and their penchant for the inflammatory. In the process they have brought civil discourse within our politics to a new low. This degradation in the manner in which we treat each other was never more evident than in the ongoing Republican debates. Consider the following:
Rick Perry is roundly cheered by a raucous crowd when the moderator notes that Perry signed off on 234 executions during his ten years as governor of Texas. The blood lust for the killing of 234 human beings is chilling…and telling.
Ron Paul was commenting about his aversion to government health care. Asked if he would allow a coma patient who did not have insurance to die rather than treat him Paul said: “we all take risks when we make decisions and this idea that we have to take care of everyone…” He was cut off by the cheering crowd; one of whom shouted “let him die” to even more applause.
A US marine on duty in Afghanistan, called in via video conference. He asked one of the panelists: “if elected president what steps do you intend to take to undo all the good done by the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell…I ask this as a gay Marne serving in the military.” The Marine was booed by the audience.
We live in a time when voicing a difference of opinion brings you ridicule and hate. Civil discourse has been replaced by hate speech and fear mongering. When was the last time you heard a member of Congress shout “you lie” at the President of the United States as he delivers his State of the Union address? It is no longer sufficient to say “I disagree”. “I disagree you stupid *%#!” is now the norm.
In the long run “crazy” doesn’t work. “Crazy” may fire up a crowd; it may even win you a Republican nomination. But it won’t rally a country and it won’t win a general election.
FOXNEWS mogul Roger Ailes, arguably the most powerful person in the Republican Party, realized the dangers of crazy talk and altered the course of his operation. Glenn Beck was fired and Ailes ordered his talking heads to “dial it down”…”it” being the crazy talk and inflammatory rhetoric that had permeated his news organization. The declining ratings told Ailes all he needed to know…crazy does not work in the long run…and he acted accordingly.
We need to return to a time when competing ideas and thoughtful commentary propelled our nation forward. If Republicans want their conservative message to be taken seriously then they need to return to the thoughtful dialogue and rational principles that once governed their party. Crazy talk doesn’t work in the long run. You need only look at the state of our ineffective government and our stalled economy for proof.