Full disclosure, I am a tree-hugging liberal. I think climate change action should have started 50 years ago, I would gladly get rid of every AR-15 on the planet if a genie popped up out of my iced tea and offered three wishes, and I believe in investing in people over corporations. All of that being said, I am also a fiscal conservative, and believe we need a fiscally conservative party to help balance the running of government.
Unfortunately, the choice we face on election day in modern America does not offer us a fiscally conservative voice. Yes, the Republicans in the House of Representatives are currently demanding a cut in spending in a mad attempt to hold the US debt ceiling hostage, but this is a cynical political ploy, not true conservatism. This is the same coalition that happily raised the debt ceiling three times when a Republican was in the White House last time, and that President was egregiously unconservative when it came to spending.
A question I inevitably run into when discussing our current political climate revolves around what it would take for the Republican Party to reclaim some semblance of sanity, and my own answers are not that complicated. Let’s take a quick look.
Establish Public Funding of Elections
This is my knee-jerk response to solving just about any problem facing out country. How do we address climate change? Stop letting Big Oil buy politicians. How do we solve America’s drastically overpriced healthcare industry? Stop letting Big Pharma buy politicians. Why are we reduced to “thoughts and prayers” every time a crazed person with an AR-15 takes out a bunch of school kids? The NRA and gun lobby, that’s right! Republican politicians may or not believe the anti-democratic rhetoric they spread, but we will never know until we get the money out of politics. It also wouldn’t hurt to drastically reduce the election season, but that’s a blog for another time.
Adopt Popular Policies
Ok, this one might seem like a bit of a stretch, but bear with me for a moment. What if the Republican Party found out what their constituents need most and then went to work helping them? I know, I know, and old fashioned idea, but should public servants actually serve the people who elect them?
Since Republicans seek to serve large corporations at the expense of everyone and everything else, they are having to work very hard and spend literally billions of dollars to gerrymander, dismiss and disqualify their own constituents. My favorite example of this is Harris County (Houston) Texas, where I grew up. With over six million residents, Harris County has more people in it than the bottom seven states by population combined. Yet Harris County has been gerrymandered out of existence for the purpose of national elections and Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a bill into law that allows him to overturn the results of any county elections if he perceives and irregularities. You can bet this is a test case, as Harris County, Bexar County (San Antonio), Travis County (Austin) and Dallas County are by far the most populated counties in Texas and all are as blue as any blue state in the union. Abbott and his cronies would like nothing better than to silence the tens of millions of constituents who oppose everything they do, from guns to the border and everything in between.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to do what Beto O’Rourke did? When Beto decided to run against Senator Ted Cruz he and his wife bought an minivan and took a 5,500 mile road trip to visit every single county in Texas, holding town halls in each to find our what the people needed. He then based his campaign and proposed policies around what he learned. What a concept! You can buy multiple fleets of minivans for the roughly $147 million Abbott has spent on his inflammatory and blatantly misleading campaigns. It takes a lot of money to convince people that the last thing they need is what they really want.
Promote Rational Candidates
Next, let’s talk about some of the Republican Party’s leaders. Former President and GOP frontrunner for 2024 (let’s pretend polls taken 18 months before an election have any meaning whatsoever) Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s not interested in solving anyone’s problems, he’s just interested in getting rich at the expense of his followers. There are literally volumes written about the many scams, lies and deceitful exploits of Trump, but let’s just use one example to illustrate this point. He set up fundraisers to aid in combatting what he claimed was a fraudulent Presidential election result in 2020. He knew he had lost in what has been called one of the most secure elections in American history, but he knew he could dupe people into sending him money if he lied about it. So he lied. If this is the best you can do for party leadership, your party is in serious trouble.
Now let’s take a quick stop in two states where equally ridiculous people have been elected to the US House of Representatives. Marjorie Taylor Greene was elected by Georgia’s 14th district after she bought a condo there to establish residency. She actually lives in Atlanta. The 14th is one of the last remaining bastions of right-wing radicals in what has become an increasingly blue state. I’m sure they are entertained by her demonstrable stupidity, most recently on display when she violated rules of decorum during a Homeland Security hearing and was censured by her own party, but this is not someone who wants to participate in civil discussions about how to solve problems. She, like Heath Ledger’s Joker, is an agent of chaos. Nonetheless, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy inexplicably let himself be blackmailed into putting her in party leadership.
Similarly, Lauren Boebert from Colorado’s 3rd District has drawn attention to herself through absurdity rather than through insightful leadership. She famously got into a fight with the aforementioned Greene in a Congressional women’s room (you can’t make this stuff up!), has been repeatedly accused of misusing campaign funds for personal gain and has made the promotion of recreational AR-15 use one or her platforms. She carries such an air of scandal around with her that public appearances often draw protests, like the parents who were up in arms that Dolores High School allowed her to visit. Hopefully those parents and a bunch of their friends will show up at the polls and fix this problem in 2024.
Let’s bookend this section, which is by no means an exhaustive list but merely the extremes, with Speaker McCarthy. He sold himself out immediately just to get the votes he needed to be Speaker, effectively giving away everything he had to give just to gain the gavel. Even as Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries offered to get him the votes he needed without the radical demands coming from the Republicans, McCarthy sold his soul instead. He is singularly to blame for the state of the chaotic House of Representatives, where Jim Jordan is investigating things like which shoelaces Democrats use (slight exaggeration) and Boebert and Greene are staging WWE Raw bouts all over the country. If the Republican Party is going to get back to actually governing, McCarthy is going to have to undergo microscopic surgery to find his spine.
Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine
Finally, I have written extensively about this in the past (find it here), but until we actually hold the news accountable for being non-fiction news we will never have a functional society. The recent Dominion lawsuit against FOX “News” brought this into stark relief, showing clearly it isn’t just the tabloid section of the grocery store where big money is made on absurd, made-up headlines. Fish people are taking over the world, aliens are preparing to invade from their headquarters on the moon and Donald Trump is still President. If Republicans ever hope to be taken seriously again, they have to move away from that kind of ridiculous pandering to the paranoid. Yes, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but it makes you a fool in the process.
It seems we are, increasingly, a nation of fools, and the Republicans have seceded their party to those fools. America almost certainly cannot continue to exist if rational members of their party don’t insist on better and bring them back from the brink of insanity.
5 thoughts on “Reclaiming the Republican Party”
“It takes a lot of money to convince people that the last thing they need is what they really want.” Is that what it takes “a lot of money” to change people’s minds? Because I’ve been wondering about that – how to phrase that question to ChatGPT.
So people “really want” what they don’t need? hmm?
There’s a parable I used to use when teaching my college writing class about a squirrel who is hiding in a tree. A fox is camped out, waiting for the squirrel to come out so he can attack. One day the squirrel buys a TV and plays nothing but messages about how awful squirrels taste for days and days. Eventually the fox decides he does NOT want the squirrel and leaves. If you have enough money to run enough ads, eventually you can convince a lot of people to vote against their best interests.
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“If you have enough money to run enough ads, eventually you can convince a lot of people to vote against their best interests.”
Agree. AS in the commercials run on live sports TV events. Now, during the NBA playoffs (must see? if you’re a fan?) there is a barrage of ads – the same ones by the same companies – selling you shit you don’t need: Fast food, Insurance, movies, beer, etc. and so on.
Does it work? It must, right? Because people are overweight, scared, deluded, and drunk. But hey, maybe that’s what they want and need – to FEEL something that feels good.
Go team! You can bet on who scores next! However, gambling problem? Here’s a number to call.
It’s not your fault is a great comfort. As is food, drink, insurance, etc. And btw, you must see this hero epic movie about overcoming evil and the triumph of good!
I often turn off the live game game because of the commercials. I can wait and watch the highlights on Youtube. But in the end? What is it I need? What do I want?
Cheers. I enjoy your posts, though I often disagree.
I have covered literally thousands of NBA games, and hundreds of playoff games. I’ve covered the NBA Finals, All-Star, Draft, summer leagues, pre-draft camp – you name it, I have the credentials in a large box in my closet. Honestly, the evolution of the game is such that it is not worth it to me to sit through commercials to see the games. I have long since stopped watching anything with commercials, and I now find that the logical fallacies present – especially in drug commercials – make them unbearable.
More and more I find that the things our culture consumes in high volumes are almost guaranteed to be of little interest to me. The “new” movies are not new, they are recycled variations on theme. Streaming services do a better job of producing compelling content and they are commercial-free. My favorite thing to do is read a good book or watch an old favorite movie and ignore “what’s happening now” in terms of entertainment. All this politically correct, cancel culture altered BS makes my skin crawl.
As always, thanks for reading!
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“All this politically correct, cancel culture altered BS makes my skin crawl.” I’m with you on that.
However, I am going to watch live the NUGGETS v. LAKERS. Should be epic. I’ll mute the ads. Even the commentators are hard to take. But the fans, they loose their minds. Live sports is the almost the only true, real thing left.