Trying to pick the single most troubling aspect to our current toxic — downright spooky, actually — political environment is sort of like trying to pick the most obnoxious feature of Dick Cheney’s persona: there’s just way too much material out there to choose from. Still, if forced to pick the single scariest thing about today’s politics, I’d probably bypass the usual suspects, such as right wing teabaggers and gutless Democrats.
No, at the end of the day, the scariest thing about our politics today has to be the state of the Republican Party itself.
This nation has just two major political parties. That’s it — no cornucopia of choices, just two. And all talk of third parties notwithstanding, it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. So it is a cause for some alarm that one of those two parties, the Republicans, seems to have lost all interest in serious governance. Republicans don’t even pretend anymore.
The modern GOP isn’t about policy. It’s about smash mouth politics, fear tactics and lies. To take just one example, most informed people believe that global warming constitutes one of the greatest threats in human history. Do inside the Beltway Republicans disagree? A few do. But most privately recognize the validity of the scientific consensus about climate change. More than a few publicly acknowledged the problem back when it was politically viable for a Republican to do so. Not so today. Today, Republican leaders think that the appropriate response to climate change is to make fun of Al Gore.
Saving the world, you see, is no longer seen as good politics in the Republican Party. And to today’s Republicans that’s all that matters.
By the same token, you might think that given the fact this nation is facing its greatest economic challenge in over 60 years Republicans, as one of the nation’s two “great” political parties, would look for serious solutions to the crisis (even if they are conservative solutions). But once again, of course, no such luck. The GOP’s response to the current crisis has been little more than a repetition of worn out talking points. And the same goes for health care, financial regulation and for just about everything else — everything that is other than protecting a few super-wealthy families from have to pay a few dollars in estate taxes. Now there’s a policy they’re ready to fight for.
Republicans today simply have no interest in serious governance — of actually trying to accomplish something for the nation. They want power, alright. They just have no particular interest in using that power to make the lives of the American people better.
And yet, with people angry over the economy, the GOP looks ready to stage at least a temporary resurgence. So, we may be on the verge of putting into power (at least in Congress) a group of people who aren’t simply wrong in their judgment about what needs to be done to solve this country’s problems — but who have little interest in even trying.
And, yeah, that’s damn scary.
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