Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hitting Rock Bottom

Someone asked me - "what would you choose if God let you decide between Jimmie Johnson winning the NASCAR championship or Barack Obama winning a second term?"

I had to think about that one for a while. NASCAR and politics are my twin passions. Jimmie is only seven points behind first place with four races to go. The presidential campaign is a virtual tie with less than two weeks to go.

Of course, I understand that in the scheme of things, who sits in the White House is vastly more important than who hoists the Sprint Cup trophy. And, it is true, that the one elemental factor that rules both politics and NASCAR is money. That always has been, and probably always will be, the way of the world. People who have money generally come out ahead of people who don't. But beyond that, NASCAR is purer, more of a meritocracy than politics. The media, no matter how biased, can't influence the outcomes of races. The fans, no matter how passionate about who they love and hate, can't influence the outcomes of races. Ads, no matter how negative and/or clever, can't influence the outcomes of races. Super-pacs, no matter how powerful, can't influence the outcomes of races. Put 43 cars and drivers on a track and the final result will depend on the fastest car, the smartest driver, the most strategic crew chief and oh, yes, a bit of luck as well.

So, I think I would tell God that I vote for Jimmie. That's not because I don't want Obama to win but that I almost think his winning may not matter in the long-term. In 2012, I see America as an alcoholic who hasn't yet admitted her addiction. Until she hits rock bottom, I'm not sure she'll start to come back. I think rock-bottom would come with a Romney election so maybe we should just go ahead and do it. Let's have that intervention now and get it over with.

The conservative-dominated Supreme Court we have has already given us the travesty of Bush v Gore. It has already given us the malignity of Citizens United. It has already given us "corporations are people, my friend" and gazillions of dollars in political contributions by unnamed millionaires. This bunch may do away with affirmative action in this term. And certainly if we let Romney have a couple of nominees, Roe v Wade will be gone. Will America really like what it gets with an even more radical Supreme Court?

Women are now virtually second-class citizens in this era's Republican party. We don't deserve equal pay for equal work, we don't deserve to be protected from domestic violence and we certainly don't have the mental capacity to make our own family planning decisions without wise old white men to guide us down the proper path. All anyone has to do to understand the contempt the Republican party has for women is check out what has been happening in Republican-led states. If a Personhood Amendment ever passes, as it seems sure to do if Romney wins and has a Republican congress, women will be of lesser value than a one minute old fertilized egg! Baby-making machines is what we are to Republicans but once the babies are born, all bets are off. Better not need food stamps or school lunches or health insurance to raise those babies. Republicans lose interest in children after they actually come into this world.

Science in Republican bizarro world is now a thing of the past. They proudly put their most Neanderthal members on the science committee! Men like Todd "women who were legitimately raped can't get pregnant" Akin. Men like Paul "the world is 9,000 years old and evolution is a theory straight from hell" Braun. Men like Dana "earlier climate change was caused by dinosaur flatulence" Rohrbacher. Credible scientists are stunned by the ignorance of the men Republicans have selected to determine our science policies. As the ice bergs melt and the evidence of climate change is overwhelming, Republicans remain in total denial.

Politics have become progressively more vicious with this new breed of Republicans, who seem no longer to espouse the principles of democracy. They are so positive of their own inalienable rightness in contrast to the obviously mentally challenged voters who occasionally out-number them, that they have come to believe that the ends justify the means. Thus, impeaching Clinton on grounds pathetically less than "high crimes and misdemeanors". Thus the willingness to go to the mat on and the Supreme Court to ensure that George Bush won in 2000. Thus the "swift-boating" of John Kerry. All of this culminating in the denial that Obama is even an American, the insistence that he is a Muslim and a traitor, which is common fodder on Facebook. And no, the Democrats have done nothing remotely similar to Romney.

The Democrats have some strong partisans but they have no one who begins to compare in sliminess to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Donald Trump and Glenn Beck. They have no credible leader like Sarah Palin who recently wrote a blog accusing Obama of "shucking and jiving". The Republicans have moved beyond silent dog whistles ("food stamp president" - "should learn to be an American" - dropped work requirements for welfare for the sake of his base") to full-blown racial bullhorns to remind everyone that Obama is black. Wink, wink.

And on the economy, working class Republicans will fight tooth and nail to defend the pedestal on which they've placed Mitt Romney. He's the Man. Yes, he and his cronies deserve to pay lower taxes because he's so much smarter than the rest of us. And we doan need to see no steenken' tax forms (even though he lied about his taxes in Massachusetts - oh, well, he went back and amended them when they found him out. No harm, no foul, eh?) Why, you can tell just by looking at him that he is would never do anything to hurt the 47%. No matter that he says right out loud how much disdain he has for them. No matter that people lost their jobs and pensions so that he and the Bain Boys could pose with big smiles and dollar bills (or maybe that was $100 bills) sticking out of their pockets. No matter that Sendata employees are very minute fighting for their economic lives as Bain, who owns 51% of the company, prepares to send it to China, despite the fact that it is making profits. Never mind that Bain called in law enforcement to arrest protesters begging for their jobs to stay in America. Never mind that this is happening even as he had the gall to take Obama to task in the debate for not being tough enough on China. Is this sort of like "it takes one to know one"?

We have never had a Congress so intent on thwarting anything good for America. In every other recession we ever had, we agreed on an infrastructure bill and an increase in the debt ceiling...until the Republicans said no. They said no to Equal Pay for Equal Work, no to renewing the Domestic Violence Act, no to taking tax rebates from oil companies, no to immigration reform, no to individual mandates, no to giving gay people their full civil liberties. They said no to policies they've agreed with in the past, even those they created, if it might help Obama. They signed on to a sequester rather than asking the rich to pay more in taxes. That seems their single most cherished ideal....that and abortion. This Congress has filibustered more than any other. They have wasted time voting to repeal Obamacare 33 times even though they knew they'd lose. They have practically taken out billboards saying they mean to screw over the middle and lower classes and yet many of these same people refuse to see it. Have we become a nation of submissives? Are we all 50 Shades of Grey now?

And that whole "disagreement ending at the water's edge" attitude toward foreign policy we used to believe in? Another victim of Republican partisanship. Forget supporting your president and your government in times of war or attack. Forget Americans coming together in tragic circumstances. To today's Republicans, those are just more opportunities to score political points.

So, let's do it. Let's take this new breed of ultra-conservative Republicanism to its ultimate conclusion. Maybe that's the only way we'll start on that long painful road back to sobriety.

In the meantime, go Jimmie #Sixpack!