Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Looking back at looking forward








Back in 2000, just after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Bush v. Gore awarding the Presidency to George W. Bush, I wrote a brief essay predicting the coming rise and and eventual fall of the corrupt, power-drunk GOP. It was worth a re-read.

The Politics of Self-Destruction

December 13, 2000

Even before the speeches by Al Gore and George W. Bush, the tone for the next four years in Washington had already been set. As if on cue, the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party - led by Trent Lott and Rush Limbaugh - called on Gore to make a "gracious, conciliatory" concession speech, and on Bush to immediately stake out his territory on the far right. This, they said he should do by calling for implementation of his "mandated" programs such as social security privatization and large-scale tax cuts.

This consummate presumptuousness, and the similarly absurd power grabbing vs. power sharing approach in an equally divided Senate, exemplifies the GOP’s continuing inability to govern from the majority position, as did their antics during the Bill Clinton impeachment farce. As long as Republicans were in the minority in Congress, they could remain the loyal opposition, attacking the majority but lacking the popular ideas and the political clout to effect changes to the policies they rejected. Once they claimed the congressional majority, they could neither stop their predilection for "the politics of personal destruction" nor even concur on a platform from which to legislate. Their failure to lead manifested itself by bitter intra-party infighting, the ferocity of which was usually reserved for enemies from outside their ranks. It ultimately cost the autocratic Newt Gingrich his career, and they never did achieve their ultimate goal of driving Bill Clinton from the presidency.

Viewed from this perspective, there is a sense - sadly unsurprising - that the election of George W. Bush is cheered by Republicans not so much as a victory on its merit for their own party, but more as a defeat for the Democratic Party - a political zero-sum-game. "We didn't just win, you lost and we're going to make you pay over and over again."

It will hardly be unexpected, then, to watch the GOP attempt to wield like a machete the newfound power vested in them by virtue of their control of the legislative and executive branches, and a seemingly like-minded judiciary. There will be no attempt to govern from the center, or to adopt a pragmatic, populist position. Compassionate conservatism will become counterfeit currency. There will be a lot more dividing than uniting. And where they once attempted to use their putative power to merely to attack the opposition, they will now use their presumptive absolute power to try to destroy it.

If the past is any indication, they will succeed only in destroying themselves.

3 Comments:

Blogger lythewish said...

Apologies for the intrusion. I liked your entry.
abi ot stean utwor kte i ansi le bo irn
A wonderful day to you.

4:19 PM  
Blogger The Ringmaster said...

No intrusion at all, Lythewish. Please stop by anytime.

4:47 PM  
Blogger The Ringmaster said...

I have no idea what you said, Lythewish, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.

8:03 PM  

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