Your Say

What became of the Grand Old Party?

I read Dr. Miguel Faria’s letter of Sept. 18 in which he has referenced me here and elsewhere as a “supposed” Republican, although I was elected twice as a Republican and was chairman of a county Republican Party.

And, that is the problem with today’s GOP in a nutshell. Anyone who is not Alt-right is discounted as a RINO (Republican In Name Only), although I have had very conservative letters published in other papers and have a proven record of lowering taxes in office.

Here is what I really think. First, Hillary Clinton is a very bad candidate who cannot be believed. I agree with Colin Powell’s statement that she is “greedy.” However, I found Faria’s letter (and others like it) to be overly slanted, one-sided and biased toward Donald Trump and radical conservatism.

Trump is campaigning on making America great again. Well, we clearly have the strongest military in history, despite Islamic terrorism here and abroad. Can any sane American deny this fact, despite wildly inaccurate statements by Trump that our generals are being eviscerated by Obama, a weak president?

There is no single battle to be fought. We are not fighting a nation. We are fighting an ideology: radical Islamic terrorism, as financed by our supposed friends the Saudis. And, if we stay true to our democratic ideals, we will eventually win this struggle, even if it takes many decades. (Note: Due to Pew’s survey research regarding Sharia law, I have been published as opposing an increase in immigration from these Middle Eastern nations).

At the same time, according to numerous international reports, we are falling way behind other nations in fields like education and health care. Why is the U.S., the wealthiest nation on earth, doing so poorly in these “human development” indicators? Why hasn’t our political leadership addressed these issues? As a socially liberal and fiscally conservative “I like Ike” Republican (who believes in compromise as the only way to move this country forward), here is my take.

You are what you eat. Much of the GOP’s base ate the baloney increasingly fed to us by the right-wing radicals over the last three decades, increasingly electing ultra conservative ideological radicals and driving liberals and moderates out of my Republican Party (or at least into hibernation). And, it is getting worse, not better.

Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, two candidates with a common “no compromise take no prisoner philosophy,” were the last two remaining in the GOP primary. Reagan would be both too nice and too moderate for Faria and today’s GOP. Look at what happened to Gov. John Kasich and Gov. Jeb Bush, espousing reasonable mainstream Republican positions.

Trump is bad joke — and yes, he is supported by a large number of “deplorables.” In private, many of his supporters admit this fact. But, how did the GOP get here? The Tea Party supercharged the radical right over the last decade. It started with the shadowy billionaire Koch brothers’ money, but its followers claimed their movement descended from the American Revolution.

But, they are confused. The tea party has much more in common with the French Revolution, screaming in the streets and chopping off heads of all those who disagree with their ideology. And, just as the masses did centuries ago, frustrated, alienated blue collar working people believed the tea party’s wild claims, reinforced by right-wing talk radio entertainers and FOX faux News.

As a GOP county commissioner in a county not far from Macon, I constantly fought with these radicals on the local level for eight years. These are the people Clinton correctly refers to as the “deplorables.” I found them to be ignorant of the issues, self-interested and uncaring of the plight of others, excessively emotional, bigoted and hypocritical. Typical of them was a sloppy, inarticulate retired union electrician, the force behind the local tea party, who alternately wore tea party and union t-shirts to county commission meetings.

Before I became a commissioner, I vividly remember going to one of their meetings where they ganged up on a respected, long-serving state representative from Forsyth like a bunch of rabid hyenas. His crime? He voted with the Democratic majority to remove the Confederate flag from the state flag. By the way, he lost that election.

The 2008 Obama idealistic post-partisan “Hope and Change” scenario initially stalled due to the radical right-wing House (not that Sen. Mitchell was much better). Obama has been a mediocre president largely because of this blind partisanship, causing nothing to get done in Congress. It is an inexcusable pity that a GOP controlled House and Senate have an approval rating of 13 percent (Gallup, 4-16 percent).

The House will almost surely remain controlled by a small group of GOP extremists in 2016. By the way, the House situation is in great part due to gerrymandering in redistricting by state legislatures dominated by the GOP. But, both parties share responsibility. Somehow, the 2010 Democratic Party as led by a very naive Obama forgot that if you lose on the state level, the other team gets to call the redistricting shots for the next 10 years.

The near future continues to look dim, at least until 2020, when a more reasonable compromise-oriented Congress can be elected. The most that can be hoped for is that the Senate, constrained though it is by filibusters, will somehow be more open to actually getting things done.

In any case, we as a party, now have to pay via a national election which will almost certainly be lost because the GOP nominated a budding dictator who has few detailed policies. His mantra is give me power and just trust me. Yep, just like I trust the IRS.

And if elected, unlikely given all the groups he has alienated, Trump will refuse to compromise with the Democrats in the Senate and the tea party radicals in the House when they disagree. Nothing will get done.

Clinton will also face these radicals who will block her efforts if she is elected president. So, the bottom line for the next president is that little will be accomplished.

I hope the Koch brothers and the other oligarchs behind the GOP revolution are pleased with the mess they have created. Dr. Faria seems to be. The rest of us are not.

Jack Bernard is a resident of Peachtree City.

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