Day: May 15, 2010

The Rapid Marginalization Of The Republican Party: Maine As An Example

The Republican Party was born in 1854 in opposition to the expansion of slavery, and for many party founders, opposition to slavery itself.

The Republican Party became the majority party of the nation within a few short years; won the Civil War under President Abraham Lincoln; promoted racial equality during the Reconstruction period; endorsed the development of industrial capitalism; gave us Theodore Roosevelt and the growth of the progressive movement; advocated bipartisan foreign policy during the beginning of the Cold War under President Truman; gave the country the moderate, internationalist views of Dwight D. Eisenhower; and continued to have a moderate wing, even in the times when conservatism under Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan won control of the party.

The Republican party also, sadly, pursued policies that helped to cause the Great Depression of 1929; promoted fear and hysteria during the the Age of McCarthyism in the late 1940s and early 1950s; and advocated policies that led to economic excesses under Ronald Reagan, and economic and foreign policy tragedies under George W. Bush; and allowed itself to be hijacked by the religious Right in the last generation!

Now, in the past few years, at an accelerated rate, the Republican party has become more extreme and marginalized with the growth in power and influence, not just of the religious Right, but also the radio talk show and Fox News Channel crackpots who spew forth wild rhetoric which incites and fuels extremist movements, such as the Tea Party activists that are promoting conspiratorial views about liberals, progressives, and the Obama Presidency!

Witness not only the fact that a very conservative but respectable US Senator Robert Bennett is repudiated in the Utah state convention proceedings last week, not able to make it on the ballot for Republican voters to decide in a primary!

Witness not only the crazy rantings of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and other right wing talk show hosts who promote the most extreme depictions of our President, and advocate ideas the most incendiary ever enunciated on the airwaves, enough to incite fear, hysteria and panic among people suffering from GOP policies that led to the Great Recession we are still trying to recover from!

But Maine, a state that has long had the image of being a moderate, reasonable state politically, last weekend had a state Republican convention, and came out of it sounding as if insanity had taken over! What happened at this convention?

The convention called for the abolition of the Federal Reserve; declared global warming a myth; called for sealing the border with Canada; denounced the idea of a one world government; stated that health care is not a right; called for the elimination of the Department of Education; advocated the arrest, detention and deportation of anyone here illegally immediately; and sounded as if the Maine Republican party had been taken over by the Tea Party Movement and Ron Paul!

As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post stated: “The Maine Republicans a week ago rejected a platform proclaiming that ‘we believe that the proper role of government is to help provide for those who cannot help themselves’, that ‘we believe in ensuring that our children have access to the best educational opportunities’, and that ‘every person’s dignity, freedom, liberty, ability and responsibility must be honored.'”

Milbank states that the Republican Party is becoming unglued, and showing signs of cracking up, and that if this is what is happening in Maine and Utah, as well as in Arizona and elsewhere, that May 8, 2010 will be seen by historians as the beginning of the disintegration of a party once great and magnificent in many ways! 🙁 The problem is that there were clear signs of this before last week, but Maine being part of it is indeed shocking! 🙁

This should be an alarm bell ringing in the night, as Thomas Jefferson said at the time of the debate about slavery, which led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which, ironically, helped to create Maine as a “free” state in the debate over slavery expansion!

This extremist, right wing activity is a threat to freedom itself, and to every decent American who believes that this country is a land of opportunity and humanity! 🙁