America’s politics: Tit for Tat

The recent court rulings in Colorado and Maine knocking Trump off the ballot for being an insurrectionist have been met with Republican crocodile tears about the erosion of democracy. “The voters should decide, not the courts,” they say. “It’s an unwarranted intrusion by the left aimed to punish the leading Republican candidate!” they cry.

Having spent the better part of the last decades undermining the electoral process through redistricting, voter suppression, spreading lies about election workers, and worse, Republicans are now displaying their political fragility; while they can dish it out, they can’t take it. Poor boobies!

I’m not pleased with the current state of affairs; America’s lost its middle ground and fragmented into opposite sides that only fight. The whole set-up stinks, and I hate it. Yet at the same time, if the Democratic Party gives up the field to the Republicans by deciding that it won’t be just as aggressive and assertive in how it plays the game, then America will be lost to those who want to create a one-party nation ruled by an autocrat.

Newt Gingrich started the ruckus in the 90s by calling upon Republicans to oppose every Democratic initiative simply because it was proposed by Democrats. This spiteful strategy fueled a severe us/them approach which culminated in the impeachment of Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky, unseemly behavior to be sure, but mild compared with stealing Top Secret documents and interfering in the electoral process. Nonetheless, it launched the radical Republican movement and it’s scorched earth political strategy.

Jump ahead thirty-five years and it brings us to a fractured America, where the leading Republican contender calls Democrats “Communist traitors” and gets indicted ninety-one times. After breaking nearly every code of ethical behavior, not to mention the law, the “leader” of the Republican Party and likely Presidential candidate now commands shock troops of violent followers ready to follow his orders to rid the country of “deep staters” and “evildoers.” This threat of violence hangs heavy over a county with 350 million guns and talk of a new Civil War, as unspeakably horrible as that would be.

It’s an awful reality that unless the Democratic Party is as assertive as the Republican Party, a small minority of authoritarian Americans will take power who have vowed to transform the nation. One can only imagine how different history would look if in 1933, German opposition to Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party had been effective and the Nazi movement stopped. Rightfully, the Democratic Party is reluctant to use the scorched earth tactics of the Republicans, but at this point has little choice; it’s either “all hands-on deck” or disaster. History doesn’t repeat itself, exactly, but can come terribly close.

My father used to extoll our two-party system when I was a boy just growing up. The competition between parties, he believed, provided a healthy give-and-take that produced broadly acceptable policy. While extreme characters like Joe McCarthy in the 1950s would take stage for a brief while, a centrist approach always prevailed. Our only hope is that America can return to a healthier and more honest politics, one grounded on mutual respect for democracy, the Constitution, and the law.

It took a world-wide conflagration to unseat Hitler and his minions, 75 million deaths and unspeakable suffering. Let’s hope our current craziness does not lead to an even more tragic outcome.

One thought on “America’s politics: Tit for Tat

  1. Larry, this was a great summation of our current political reality and your identification of the root back to the 90’s is apt. I also believe that you are correct that this is a time to take the gloves off for the Democratic Party. Sadly, taking the high road and relying on ethical norms has gotten us to a place in which the Supreme Court is is stacked with hand picked Federalist Society judges, the Heritage Institute is an election away from a plan to dismantle the government, and if Trump is re-elected what would be left would be his personal tool to punish his narcissistic grievances. Wow, I just reread that and it does not sound good. Happy New Year and I pray for a good fight and return to civility.

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