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Friday, October 12, 2018

Mr. Republican—Is This Really Who You Are?

I like to honor the Eisenhower years.  Though I was very young, a neighbor of ours at the time was an Eisenhower loyalist.  I don’t know much about Eisenhower, but primarily that he was one who helped achieve defeat of the Nazi’s and was instrumental in development of the interstate highway system.  He also backed up Civil Rights actions when necessary with government troops.  So then, this memory of Mr. Republican is strongly positive, and I cherish it.  But now I suppose Mr. Republican is Donald Trump—a deceptive man whose primary aim is to cloak dishonesty and greed in a wrapper of plain speaking—a made-to-order threat for American culture since a key component of that culture is the strong attractiveness of the archetypal individual who speaks out without fear or favor—who stands on bedrock fact caring nothing for puffs and spin.

I think the Republican party began to decay when it placed power ambitions above the bedrock of American values most essentially epitomized in the Bill of Rights and the concept of institutional/individual limitations.  The single most dangerous threat that power poses is the human vulnerability to the resolute drive to achieve absolute invulnerability.  I must repeat an old, old personal story to show you what I mean.  The story is true, but an imaginary character I will then introduce I will leave to your thoughtful discernment and judgment as to the nature of its reality.

In the early 60’s my Dad and I settled down after supper to watch the evening news on TV.  The top story showed images of police dogs and water hoses directed at Alabama blacks.  I said something about “niggers.”  Dad looked at me for a moment in silence, then he slowly almost painfully said:  “Son, I never want to hear you say that again.”  Of course, now on looking back, the one thing that epitomizes the courage, integrity, and love of my father is this scene forever burned into memory.

Now I would like to re-run that scene but with a Republican-Southern Strategy father—a father who feared losing me so much that he would shamelessly pander to my worst prejudices.  So back to the scene on that un-air-conditioned night in a small southern town….. I said something about “niggers.”  Dad looked at me for a moment and said:  "Son, never say that in front of mama.” and he gave me a wink.

So, my Republican-Father became the party of many, many winks over the years whether regarding the sacredness of Constitutional government, equal opportunity for all, effective regulation of business and finance, respect for facts and objectivity, committing demagogic certainty in the face of limited human knowledge, and I must say at last, even perverting the Golden Rule itself…quietly chortling within that he who makes the rules gets the gold.  It seems to me that Trump is the start of the final decay of the Republican party.  The next step must lead to reform and the frank acknowledgement of its horrific transgression in winking at racial prejudice rather than working to transcend it--which would have been the highest compliment the Republican Party could have bestowed upon us.

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