Ours is a practical people, to whom ideals furnish the theory of political action….On the other side, they are equally disgusted with seeking for power by destructive criticism, demagoguery, specious promises and sham.
Some may ask where all this may lead beyond mere material progress…. It leads to the opportunity for greater and greater service, not alone from man in our own land, but from our country to the whole world. It leads to an America, healthy in body, healthy in spirit, unfettered, youthful, eager — with a vision searching beyond the farthest horizons, with an open mind, sympathetic and generous.
It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.
This is not a showman’s job. I will not step out of character.
– Herbert Hoover
Mister, We Could Use a (Republican) Like Herbert Hoover Again
There was a time, dear children, when the Republican Party of the United States was the stodgy old party of responsibility and prudence and eating your vegetables. People like Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft and George Romney and Nelson Rockefeller and Gerald Ford and, yes, even Richard Nixon for all his faults, cared about a thing called good governance. They took public service seriously. They believed in things like balanced budgets and sensible spending and good citizenship and doing the right thing. These anachronisms are what used to be called “principles” and Republicans used to have them.
Republicans have even been known to stand on principle to their own detriment. American history is replete with such examples. I am thinking of Ford’s pardon of Nixon which he had to know would cost him the 1976 election but which he honorably believed to be the right thing. Taft was a man so dedicated to our constitution and the rule of law that he dared to criticize the Nuremberg trials and Japanese internment. This bravery won him the praise of Senator John F. Kennedy and a chapter in his Pulitzer-Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage but probably cost him the Republican nomination for President in 1944, 1948, and 1952. Finally, there is Barry Goldwater. Whatever you thought about Goldwater’s ideas, cuckoo-bananas or genius, no one ever accused Barry Goldwater of selling out his principles for political expediency. He proudly rode them all the way to the ground like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.
Republicans have sometimes been willing to pull dirty tricks and tell lies to win (I know, right?). Telling lies is a time-tested way to achieve political goals and Republicans, of course, wrote their chapter in that book. Richard Nixon came by the moniker Tricky Dick honestly. What most Republicans didn’t do was to betray their own followers and their own own political philosophy in the pursuit of power. That innovation, or at least the mastery of it, belonged to that patron saint of conservatives, Mr. Ronald Reagan. Reagan, the “great communicator” preached the gospel of smaller government and fiscal responsibility to Goldwater’s beleaguered descendants. He promised the religious right, with a wink and a nod, to end abortion. He bludgeoned Jimmy Carter and the Democrats for “spending like drunken sailors.” And then he got elected. And he increased the size of government, did diddly-squat about abortion, and spent money like a drunken sailor.
What Reagan realized, but Carter had not, was that the American people don’t like bad news. They don’t like to be lectured. They don’t like discipline. They don’t like to eat their vegetables. So Reagan dropped all that “principle” stuff and distilled a new philosophy which went down smooth; let’s have our cake and eat it, too.
The Gipper figured it out. People like a strong military. They like to strut around with their chests puffed out humming the Star-Spangled Banner in the back of their throats. Reagan gave it to them. People don’t like paying taxes. Reagan smiled that goofy grin of his and said, “I don’t like paying taxes either. Let’s cut them.” The people thought Carter was too preachy and made everything sound “sooooooo complicated.” Reagan served up simple, sappy, aphorisms by the bushel. Reagan told the American people how good they were, and how noble, and how smart. He told them how good old common sense was better than all that book learnin’ and that, well gosh, the American people were just God’s own special people.
Americans ate it up. When that fuddy-duddy, spoil-sport Mondale told them they would have to pay higher taxes to finance Reagan’s blossoming deficits they put their fingers in their ears, stuck out their tongues and “raspberried” him back to Minnesota.
We Americans don’t like broccoli and, by-God, no pointy-headed intellectual is gonna make us eat it.
The lesson of Carter’s flameout and Mondale’s trouncing was not lost on Reagan’s progeny. There would be no more “malaise” speeches. There would be no more appeal to our intellect nor our self-discipline, nor our better angels. Even the Democrats learned the lesson. When George H.W. Bush’s remnant belief in good governance led him to compromise with the Democrats and raise taxes, a move which allowed, for the first time in decades, an actual surplus in the U.S. budget, the smarmy huckster from Arkansas slew him with his own noble gesture. Clinton gave the American people his best “Reagan” smile, told them he could “feel their pain” and that all their problems had been “laid on them,” and sunk the knife into George’s back. It was the last time anyone, of either party, dared to “reach across the aisle.”
Now, winning is all that matters. Working together, doing the right thing for the country, exercising restraint, practicing good governance, being philosophically consistent, putting country ahead of party; these are all relics from a bygone era.
Winning is everything and compromise is impossible (you can’t compromise with the Devil after all.) Ultimately anything can be sacrificed to the cause: honesty, fairness, faith in your fellow man, your own principles. Even flat-out hypocrisy, the kind that can be proven by video recordings, and, in the past would have sunk a politician, hardly moves the needle now. It’s the Lord’s work, after all. Mitch McConnell will stand in front of a television camera and excoriate Democrats for saying precisely, even word for word, what McConnell himself has been recorded saying a year ago. There are Democrats who would do the same thing to him. Here we are.
If both sides jettison their beliefs and philosophy for the expedient of winning what difference does it make? Why am I picking on Republicans? Why, in fact, do I beseech the Republicans to sober up and recover their proud tradition of principle above party. I do it now because we need them now more than ever. We need the Republicans to live up to the example of Taft and Eisenhower and Ford and Goldwater. They are the only ones who can help us now. They are the only ones who can slow down this unstable raging narcissist who has become our President.
We have now dispatched the Wicked Witch of the West and her wicked, wicked email server to oblivion. Will you, at long last, strengthen your backbones and stop this phony Republican before he dismantles all that is good and noble about our country? Republicans, I tell you again, this man does not believe what you do. He not only disregards your ideals and principles he positively mocks them.
He mocks, also, the serious and thoughtful men who used to represent you. Aren’t you embarrassed to watch your formerly proud leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney grovel before this gameshow host? Aren’t you appalled to hear a five-time draft deferred man with miraculously self-healing bone spurs brutally criticize actual Viet-Nam war heroes John McCain and John Kerry?
I now address you “God-fearing” Christians. I have read a great deal of the New Testament and I don’t think Jesus was advocating what your Republican President is now doing. Don’t take my word for it. Read the Sermon on the Mount, read all of Matthew, and judge for yourselves.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
I trust this verse will not be misattributed to President Donald Trump. How about this:
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Do Syrian refugees count?
Even if the darkness of the Old Testament is your cup of tea do you really think that this twice divorced serial adulterer who sexually harasses women is a model for your family? I think there are some passages of Leviticus which would insure this man some smiting, or worse. If he were not the President would you invite him into your house? Would you leave your daughter alone in a room with him? But you voted for him to represent America to the world? If you’ll pardon my French, What the hell is wrong with you?
What about our collective, agreed-upon American principles? Are we no longer to be a “nation of immigrants” as President Kennedy called us? Do we no longer tear-up at the words of Emma Lazarus’ poem?
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Is that a Golden Door or a gray, cement wall with concertina wire strung along the top?
Finally, Republicans, which of these do you believe in your heart?
Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
Obviously many of you are embarrassed. Most of my Republican friends will not even mention Trump unless someone else brings it up and then they mumble and stumble and dredge up an old line about Benghazi. But there was something about President Obama’s swagger or, ….I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt….something…. that set your teeth on edge. You listened to Hillary’s shrill, preachy voice and were reminded of those Brussels sprouts that Saint Reagan told you you would not have to eat anymore. And, doggone it, you wanted to win. It feels so good to win. We know you wanted Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush instead. But that ain’t what happened.
What you have representing your treasured GOP brand now is a self-absorbed spoiled little rich kid with no one ever to tell him no. You must tell him NO! This man-child is President of the United States and he is more concerned about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s television ratings than his National Security briefing.
He is still, from a podium in the White House, trying to “spin us” on just how many electoral votes he won the election by. He is creepily, bizarrely, self-deluding about this subject which nobody asked him about. He repeats it over and over, from meetings with the Israeli Prime-Minister to ceremonies about Black History Month. In a press conference this week Trump again boasted “We got 306….I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”
Now, it is one thing to lie about an ambiguous data point buried a thousand pages deep in a government report or a piece of information only you know the answer to. But, my God man, any eight year old can ask Siri who won the electoral college vote in the last 7 Presidential elections and know the answer with 100% accuracy in about 3/5ths of a second. In about two minutes (I’ll admit to being slower than an eight year old) I discovered that Trump won 304 electoral votes, not 306. (The idea that any man who won a Presidential election doesn’t know how many electoral votes he got is truly bizarre in itself.) In five of the seven elections preceding Trump’s the winner won more than 304 votes. For the record (George H.W. Bush – 426, Clinton (1992) – 370, Clinton (1996) – 379, George W. Bush (2000) – 271, George W. Bush (2004) – 286, Obama (2008) – 365, and Obama (2012) – 332.)
And Trump’s answer, when confronted with the demonstrable falseness of his claim; “Actually, I’ve seen that information around.” Apparently he didn’t see it around the internet, or in the encyclopedia, or the Congressional Record, or hear about it from one of the hundreds of Senators and Representatives present at the counting of the electoral votes by Vice-President Joe Biden which was, by the way, broadcast on CSPAN and still available for viewing on You Tube.
This is a pathology, one might say, borderline mental illness. This kind of egomania coupled with insecurity would be undesirable in any profession. Possessed by the man who controls the U.S. nuclear arsenal they are downright dangerous.
So, Republicans I implore you once again. Stiffen your upper lip. Steel yourself to defend your principles. Your country needs you now. Party politics can wait. You must stop this man or, at least, slow him down. This is your moment. Channel your own internal Herbert Hoover. Though it is sometimes hard to believe and I am loathe to admit it: There is precedent for Republicans to do the right thing.
by: Dustin Joy