End of the world predictions have been around for as long as there has been a world. Remember our old doomsday buddy Harold Camping? He predicted the end of the world not once but twice and we are still here. Our most recent fascination has been the prediction of the ancient Mayans that the world would end on December 21, 2012.
Since you are reading this sometime in early 2013 it would seem that the Mayans were wrong. But actually, they may have gotten it right if the “world” is defined as the National Republican Party. And rather than one Grand Old Party explosion, the demise of what used to be the political party of adults has occurred incrementally starting with the Presidency of George W. Bush. After Bill Clinton’s second term affair with intern Monica Lewinsky coupled with the Democratic nomination of Vice President Al Gore, who at times could make even Michael Dukakis look charismatic (Remember Saturday Night Live’s Darrell Hammond — “Can I Make Two Closing Statements?” and “Lockbox”) it seemed as if the GOP offered the country a breath of fresh air.
Compared to the former Clinton VP, the seemingly down to earth former Texas Governor and First Son looked like a promising successor to Clinton-Gore, despite his occasional tussles with the English language (Remember “Strategery”? SNL’s words; W’s spirit). My most vivid memory of W’s 2000 campaign was his unambiguous denouncement of nation building. For a country that still maintains military bases in Germany and Okinawa dating back to the post WW II mid 1940s, the GOP candidate seemed to be making a lot of sense. While he was being tutored on foreign policy by Stanford University academic Condoleeza Rice, he asked his dad’s ole pal Dick Cheney to find him a Vice Presidential running mate. We all know how that turned out. Before you knew it we had a skin tight national election that came down to hanging chads in Florida, Bush v. Gore et al. Thanks to the defacto election commissioners on the U.S. Supreme Court, we had a second President Bush in the White House. Luckily, the former Texas Governor was left with a budget surplus by the outgoing administration along with the most peaceful world in recent memory. Peace and prosperity seemed the order of the day, but not for long.
9-11 changed everything, but as history tells us, it didn’t have to be. According to Bob Woodward, CIA Director George Tenet repeatedly tried to warn W’s foreign policy tutor turned National Security Chief Rice and her boss of reliable intelligence of Bin Laden and company’s planned attack on New York and Washington. Rice and Bush couldn’t be bothered. A few months later it happened, followed quickly by the neocon directed, unpaid for quest to bring Bin Laden to justice in Afghanistan and the unjustified invasion of Iraq (Remember Shock and Awe?). Meanwhile, despite promises to the contrary, we got into serious nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Patriot Act, government sponsored torture and all the rest. Can anybody say Defense Secretary Rumsfeld? These are all documented facts that the Republican campaigns of John McCain and Mitt Romney conveniently forgot to ever mention.
On the domestic front, the GOP fiscal conservatives passed the across-the-board Bush tax cuts which disproportionately benefited the super wealthy while giving Big Pharma a gigantic gift in the form of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug benefit that made it unlawful for the Social Security Administration to bargain for discounts. Anything but full retail was explicitly made unlawful. And then there was FEMA’s botched Hurricane Katrina non-response led by “Heckuva Job Brownie.” And finally, the Bush Administration in the sacred name of less government regulation ignored the subprime mortgage scam and casino culture that their deep pocket donors on Wall Street had put into high gear that would eventually plunge the nation into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
By January 20, 2009 all of this was suddenly the fault of the country’s first black President, Barack Hussein Obama who was allegedly born in Kenya, a closet Muslim and an incompetent “community organizer” incapable of governing. At least this was the new script written by the likes of Karl Rove et. al and repeated by rote by all the suddenly out of power Republicans who had walked away from the multifaceted governmental mess that they conveniently left for the new popularly elected Democratic administration.
Since then, the Republican agenda as repeatedly expressed by Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch “The Turtle” McConnell et. al has been to make Obama a one term president by blocking anything and everything that might inure to the benefit of the country. And as if things couldn’t get worse, the Tea Party came into being with a vengeance in 2010 with its relentless, albeit selective, religiosity and dogmatic purity that preached small government unless it came to micromanaging anything having to do with women’s sexual organs and health. This new breed of far right Republican also went out of their way to deny science at every turn, tell us the world was 6000 years old etc. while aggressively sponsoring voter suppression campaigns, trying to destroy labor unions, telling Hispanics to self deport and branding 47% of the country as shiftless welfare takers. My goodness. And they still can’t figure out why they lost the last two elections. And most recently, as a tribute to their serial irresponsibility they let the country go over the fiscal cliff, if for only a few hours, by forsaking the national interest for their own brand of selfish devotion to anything but common sense and compromise. The next needless drama is a Republican threat not to raise the debt ceiling which would dispatch the economy and our national credit rating into the abyss. As Dana Carvey’s SNL Church Lady would surely say, “Isn’t That Special?”
For all of you Mississippi Republicans out there who are still reading this, let me assure you that the National Democratic Party is far from blameless on so many fronts. The refusal to address the structural mathematical deficits of Social Security and Medicare Programs are only the tip of the iceberg. Continuing to run trillion dollar deficits will at some point destroy America as we know it. Nation Building in the Arab World invented by the Bush Administration must end. President Obama says it will; we’ll see. Subsidies to global corporations under the guise of rock solid American values, i.e., Agribusiness, (Farm Bill), Big Pharma (Healthcare), Big Oil (Energy Independence), you name it, are equal opportunity outrages. Even more problematic is the overstaffed, needlessly complicated federal bureaucracy. And yes, there are segments of broken American culture that must be addressed (but never are) to reverse single teenage mothers, gun violence, obesity, school dropouts, crime and on and on and on. Just drive around Jackson and take a look. The seemingly intractable problems are constantly on display. And so, what did the Republican dominated 112th Congress do about it? Virtually nothing. They were judged the most ineffective Congress in American history. In fairness, the Democrats were not far behind the GOP in this regard.
It is time that common sense and people of goodwill come together and honestly address an America that is on the brink of economic and moral ruin. But as long as politicians continue to profit at the expense of their constituents there is little hope of a healthier America. Things have to change from the bottom up and not from the top down. Given the current polarized political mess in Washington D.C. and in too many state capitals, there is little to be hopeful about.
Thanks to the Mayans, maybe the first step is the impending obsolescence of the modern Republican Party. Perhaps step two is for the Democratic Party to follow suit allowing the country to start over. Then maybe we could find a way to outsource our own government to a new breed of American that shares little with what now passes for our so called political leaders.
Here’s hoping…Oh, and Happy New Year!