Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Defense Rests

Dan Billings, is a Republican who disagrees with a number of the Maine Republican Party’s platform planks is a frequently featured commentary contributor to the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel and penned this piece. His instincts upon witnessing the disbelief and distain for the Republican platform transforming his party’s message into a tool of the worst far, far, far fringe right wing anti-democracy extreme xenophobic and delusional tea party conspiracy mongers is to go out and paint the Democratic party platform as extreme.

Point by point he fails in his attempt to paint our party as far left for supporting:

“jobs for all who can work; a livable wage; affordable housing, food, fuel, health care, and other essential commodities for all; and support for those suffering hardship.”
He rattles on and on about planks that address fairness to public employees rather than trashing them in the good old fashioned Republican “government is the enemy” mode.

He denigrates fundamental fairness due employees instead of siding with the Republican impulse that employer/stockholder profits must always supersede fair labor practices.

He sets his sights on support for long term goals of guaranteed sick time and single payer health care simply because each suffered past rejection in the typical Republican fashion of looking dismally backward rather than aspiring to a brighter future for all.

He says that the gay marriage referendum vote ought to have been the end to that issue and thus let the Republican social issue stance be an accepted level of discrimination rather than fighting on and on in the great Democratic tradition of civil rights.

His list drones on in a feeble effort to cover up the incredible reactionary Republican hard right turn by stating that:

…the Maine Democratic Party platform is a far-left document that could have been crafted by one of the European socialist parties. The next time you hear a Democrat talk about the GOP being out of the mainstream, remember the platform that Maine Democrats will endorse this weekend.
Mr. Billing of course got in the GOTP (Grand Old Tea Party) obligatory “socialist” slime toss.

One of the greatest myths whispered about starting in the Reagan presidency, more openly stated in the George W. Bush administration, and now heard as a full-throated scream from the successful tea party putsch within the Republican Party is that the Democratic Party is far outside the main stream of American values and is a radical leftist entity.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Essentially there have been a couple competing and occasionally collaborating strands in American politics.

There were those steel rim eyeglassed home town Rotary type businessmen and followers who expected good governance and counseled a conservative approach to taxes but not trashing valid funding of government. They were defense hawks but had a pragmatic streak of engagement with the world. And while more socially conservative, tramping into the bedrooms and individual lives of the public wasn’t their idea of a reasonable way forward and gradual acceptance civil rights change was often a hallmark of those who expressed allegiance to this party.

There were those steelworkers (and others with blue collars), women, and minorities that formed an alliance to ensure that government was a force to do good and advance the quality of life for poor and middle class Americans. They had a mix of hawks and doves but had a pragmatic streak of engagement with the world. And while more socially liberal, they took the long view and pushed and pulled their message of equality and dignity forward always looking to the future but also explaining the moral reasoning of their efforts.

Both parties formed the broad middle of the electorate and they debated, voted, won or loss, and moved on to engage each other and often collaborate to address issues imperfectly but with a desire to serve everyone to some degree in that vast middle.

The bitter truth today for the Republican Party is that somewhere along the arc from Reagan to Palin, they left the mainstream. Newt Gingrich, take no prisoners, style polemics became their approach. Cut loose from mainstream give and take governance they drifted further and further into the orbit of ultra conservative market worshipers and social issue attack politics. And many stayed with them as their leaders, public pundits and party apparatchiks played more and more on their fears, set up straw men, and questioned the patriotism and sympathies of the other half of the great middle of the American electorate.

That other half, the Democratic Party, continues to move forward with progress in mind. It is the regression of the Republican Party fading into John Birch style absolutism and morphing into tea party racism that is the true cause of the strife in our country’s political discourse.

In Maine, the Democratic and Republican platforms ought to be compared and each party’s candidates ought to be questioned about their identification to the core values now publically expressed by their conventions. The message of those platforms is clear in both parties.

Every blue collar worker who votes Republican votes against her or his own economic interest. Voting Democratic advances that worker’s reward for their hard work.

Every woman who votes Republican votes for a glass ceiling on her movement toward equality. Voting Democratic advances the causes valued by women.

Every minority individual who votes Republican votes for enabling the fear of minorities to be a blunt instrument of right wing propaganda. Voting Democratic is voting for civil rights.

The Democratic Party is the place for all of the preceding voices and small business owners, socially astute larger-business people, students, and anyone in the great center of American progress toward a brighter future.

Unfortunately however, the new GOTP, this xenophobic, often racist, every tax adverse, victimization preaching element, is a serious political force to be reckoned with. It likely will flame destructively before it dies out and is finally rejected with regret. Perhaps we are now ready for a third party in this country. Hopefully it will be the old Republican Party of those Rotarian steel rim eyeglass wearers and their friends and families that decide to rejoin the Democratic Party back in the center of the American electorate by rejecting the political hijacking that stole their political souls.

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