Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Pipe dreams

The P-I's Joel Connelly gives state Republicans a lot of free advice. For example:
A final suggestion: It's time for state Republicans to move away from property-rights extremism, and back toward the party's historical, sensible commitment to conservation.

Look around: Theodore Roosevelt created the first Olympic National Monument. Dan Evans championed the North Cascades National Park and Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Rep. Joel Pritchard led the fight in Congress against environmentally harmful pork-barrel projects. Rep. Sid Morrison put it on the line for the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area. Sen. Slade Gorton secured dollars for the Mountains-to-Sound Greenway.
Connelly's columns is a plea for reason from the state GOP. Connelly offers some criticism of Democrats in Olympia, which I suppose is fair enough - nobody is perfect - but Rome wasn't built in a day, and projects like 520 can't be funded overnight.

It seems rather unlikely that - the BIAW, the key right wing player on the issue of land use - is going to suddenly become reasonable, at least under its present leadership. Their modus operandi is to make scurrilous attacks until they get called on it by the press, regroup and then attack some more. There is no discernible evidence that they would be interested in a new Dan Evans.

There's always some chance that Mainstream Republicans will make strides, but again it seems unlikely. The GOP found success in the black helicopter, anti-government 1990's, and it doesn't seem to recognize that times change. Sure, they applied some "moderate" veneer on Dino Rossi in 2004, and tried the same thing with Mike McGavick in 2006, but 2006 showed that voters weren't buying it.

The Republican base seems to be a mixture of theocracy-seeking evangelicals, alleged libertarian types, and anti-tax greed heads, the sort who just complain about taxes nonstop and see no value in public services or the commons.

The Republican Party isn't about to reform itself. More likely, it's in danger of becoming a permanent minority both here and nationally, as its contradictory parts clash and fail to come up with any practical proposals.

Social Security? Hand it over to Wall Street. Health care? Hand it over to Big Pharma. Roads? Build new lanes with the little money left after tax cuts. Schools? Give us vouchers for private education. Public money for theocratic teachings!

How about the environment? Food safety? Have some pork for dinner tonight if you'd like to risk experiencing firsthand the Republican approach to governance. The market should have protected you, and if it didn't, you're a moron for having dinner.

The ideology that has gripped the GOP for the last thirty years or so is that government is bad... and we must break it, no matter the consequences. We used to think they wanted to repeal the New Deal, but it became obvious they had it in for common sense and science as well. Can you say "Kansas Board of Education?" How's that intelligent design movement working out for you in Kansas?

The right wing worldview today could be characterized as an ideology of destruction, as far too many actual human beings have found out in the last seven years.

And then they call us the party of death and shout that we are on the side of terrorists. (If America elect Democrats, America will be attacked!) Then they get bent out of shape if we dare to express our opinions about their poor ideas.

Republicanism, in its current form, is infantilism transferred to politics, as evidenced by their view of an infallible leader, their lack of respect for those who are different and the petty vindictiveness that is a hallmark of the GOP.

And it's not just Rove. Washington state Republicans have an ignominious tradition of spewing bile; from Linda Smith to Ellen Craswell to Chris Vance and Tom McCabe, there is an underlying belief that it's okay to consider the political opposition as one would a wartime enemy, and it far predates 2001.

The destructiveness may be what many people find so objectionable about the current Republican Party. You can have an argument about whether a certain tax is too high or too low, but the Republican Party insisted on making the broad argument that government is illegitimate (except, of course, those portions of government that support industries that support the GOP. I'm talking to you, defense procurement system.) Trillions of dollars wasted on SDI is okay with them; some poor kid getting nutrition through food stamps, eh, not so much. The market will take care of him.

Republicans have invested so much psychic energy in their myths that they have put themselves in a straitjacket. If you're someone who truly believes the media is liberal, that government is out to steal your money and on top of that government can never do anything well, you probably don't have much of value to contribute to public discourse.

Corruption is a hallmark of empowered Republicans. They complain about "waste, fraud, and abuse" but when they are empowered, they make a mess. Which leaves Republicans with nothing much to offer and an awful lot of ex-leaders to bail out of jail.

It's always been fascinating to me how Democrats are expected to perform flawlessly, which I suppose is a measure of understanding that the Democratic Party more closely hews to the needs of the populace and is expected to stand up for regular folks.

I certainly engage in that thinking at times myself. But when Republicans are on their worst behavior, there's something of a sense in the body politic that resembles the question, "What did you expect, they're Republicans?" Odd how that works.

It's an old quote, but sometimes one needs to revisit the old P.J. O'Rourke quip:
The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.
I'll take taller and richer, even if it is a pipe dream.

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