Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Conservatism Is The Problem


From the Washington Post, an essay by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, "Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem," belies the adage that both parties are alike and that both parties are to blame for the gridlock in Congress...some excerpts:

"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

"The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

"When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

"Many self-styled bipartisan groups, in their search for common ground, propose solutions that move both sides to the center, a strategy that is simply untenable when one side is so far out of reach.

"What happened? Of course, there were larger forces at work beyond the realignment of the South. They included the mobilization of social conservatives after the 1973Roe v. Wade decision, the anti-tax movement launched in 1978 by California’s Proposition 13, the rise of conservative talk radio after a congressional pay raise in 1989, and the emergence of Fox News and right-wing blogs. But the real move to the bedrock right starts with two names: Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.
"Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.

"In the third and now fourth years of the Obama presidency, divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington, with partisan divides even leading last year to America’s first credit downgrade.

"On financial stabilization and economic recovery, on deficits and debt, on climate change and health-care reform, Republicans have been the force behind the widening ideological gaps and the strategic use of partisanship. In the presidential campaign and in Congress, GOP leaders have embraced fanciful policies on taxes and spending, kowtowing to their party’s most strident voices.



"The results can border on the absurd: In early 2009, several of the eight Republican co-sponsors of a bipartisan health-care reform plan dropped their support; by early 2010, the others had turned on their own proposal so that there would be zero GOP backing for any bill that came within a mile of Obama’s reform initiative. As one co-sponsor, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), told The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein: 'I liked it because it was bipartisan. I wouldn’t have voted for it.'
"And seven Republican co-sponsors of a Senate resolution to create a debt-reduction panel voted in January 2010 against their own resolution, solely to keep it from getting to the 60-vote threshold Republicans demanded and thus denying the president a seeming victory.

"This attitude filters down far deeper than the party leadership. Rank-and-file GOP voters endorse the strategy that the party’s elites have adopted, eschewing compromise to solve problems and insisting on principle, even if it leads to gridlock. Democratic voters, by contrast, along with self-identified independents, are more likely to favor deal-making over deadlock.



"No doubt, Democrats were not exactly warm and fuzzy toward George W. Bush during his presidency. But recall that they worked hand in glove with the Republican president on the No Child Left Behind Act, provided crucial votes in the Senate for his tax cuts, joined with Republicans for all the steps taken after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and supplied the key votes for the Bush administration’s financial bailout at the height of the economic crisis in 2008. The difference is striking.

"We understand the values of mainstream journalists, including the effort to report both sides of a story. But a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality. If the political dynamics of Washington are unlikely to change anytime soon, at least we should change the way that reality is portrayed to the public.

"Our advice to the press: Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views. Which politician is telling the truth? Who is taking hostages, at what risks and to what ends?

"Also, stop lending legitimacy to Senate filibusters by treating a 60-vote hurdle as routine. The framers certainly didn’t intend it to be. Report senators’ abusive use of holds and identify every time the minority party uses a filibuster to kill a bill or nomination with majority support.

"In the end, while the press can make certain political choices understandable, it is up to voters to decide. If they can punish ideological extremism at the polls and look skeptically upon candidates who profess to reject all dialogue and bargaining with opponents, then an insurgent outlier party will have some impetus to return to the center. Otherwise, our politics will get worse before it gets better."

To the names of Grincrich and Norquist, we must add Fox News' Roger Ailes and radio's Rush Limbaugh as equally culpable for today's polarization.  While not necessarily neo-Nazis, together they have dominated the Conservatives' propaganda arm, and together they have brainwashed as many of the populace as Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.



While the desirability of a "return to the center" is questionable, and the definition of the center today is moot since today's liberal was yesterday's moderate, there is no doubt in the minds of those who actually look at historical fact that it is the Conservative side that is responsible for the horrific mess in Congress - as usual.  No matter how much it seems that today's GOP is more conservative than it has been in the past, the immutable fact remains: Conservatism is a criminal enterprise, one of the most destructive political forces in history, and must be abolished if our country is going to survive.

As in the 2010 election, the 2012 election reduced the ranks of the Blue Dog Democrats, the modern day American Quislings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quisling).  Along with the reduction in the ranks of the Congressional Republicans, this trend towards the recognition by the American voter of the evils of Conservatism must be enhanced by an attack on the gerrymandering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering) of the GOP to eliminate the influence of the Congressional leadership in our political arena.


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"If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself."

Eubie Blake, Jazz musician (1883-1983)


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