Monday, February 11, 2013

Such B.S.

I saw that the recently defeated right wing politician Allen West posted the following on Facebook after reading a recent article in the New York Times about himself...

It seems some writer at the NY Times is at it again, calling the GOP in disarray and racist. Perhaps this gent needs a little history lesson. The Democrat party gave America slavery, secession, segregation, and socialism. Jim Crow laws, poll tax, literacy tests, and providing women checks for having children out of wedlock are further examples of Democrat policies. President Lincoln broke the chains of physical bondage. President Reagan broke the chains of economic bondage. The writer thinks the GOP is in disarray, but it's thanks to liberal progressive policies emanating from the Obama administration that America is in disarray. The demise of our economic, energy, and national security are evident and the State of our Union is horrific. I would much rather be a member of a political party that rewards my individual industrialism, than one which promotes my individual subjugation.

So many reactions to such an out-of-touch statement:

First, Allen West and others on the right…it’s “The Democratic Party” and those in it are “Democrats.” It’s not “The Democrat Party.” That’d be like calling the Rs “The Republic” party. Using “The Democrat Party” is just stupid and sends the signal that you’re either ignorant or automatically so right wing you won’t even consider a civil debate. I suggest you change your tactic on that one if you want to be taken seriously.

Second, for those of you willing to quickly jump on Allen's ignorance-strewn rant…KNOW YOUR HISTORY:

  • Thomas Jefferson and James Madison formed the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s as a force to do electoral battle with Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists.
  • After the Federalists disbanded in the 1820s, the Democratic-Republican party split. The faction of the D-Rs who favored Jeffersonian principles formed The Democratic Party. At this point the Republican Party was minor and parties such as the Whigs were more competitive with the Democrats. 
  • By the 1850s, slavery was becoming a huge issue and anti-slavery Democrats left their party and joined with components of other parties to form The Republican Party.
  • Meanwhile, the old Democrats further fractured prior to the election of 1860 along north-south lines. This splintered party was defeated by Abraham Lincoln, Republican.
  • It is true that after this until the early/mid 20th Century, Democrats primarily remained rigid in their social and economic policies as well as splintered internally as they tried to battle Republicans….leading to many Republican presidential and Congressional wins.
  • In fact, except for the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the Rs controlled things in the 1920s and right into the Great Depression.
  • This economic calamity finally set up the big conversion of the Democratic Party and the Repubican Party into what we know today. The Ds became a unified party primarily focused on civil rights, social welfare and regulation of big business. And, at this same time, the Republican Party lurched to the right to battle against these “New Deal” policies and started calling themselves “conservatives.”
Why go into this history? Because guys like West are counting on you not knowing. They’re counting on you for being ignorant and not understanding that in the same way they are misrepresenting the name of the party, they are misrepresenting the history and legacy of the Democratic Party in hopes that you will think they are not credible or good for the country.

Look, either Allen West is ignorant of all this and truly thinks that the old Democratic Party from the 1800s is the same one as today, OR (far more likely) he all to well knows the history of the parties and how they evolved…and is PLAYING RUBES FOR FOOLS as is typical of ultra-conservative politicians.
Third, President Reagan by all means did NOT break “the chains of economic bondage.” Far from it. Indeed, our nation ran up the biggest debt in its history at the time under Reagan’s two terms…passing on that debt to future generations. Further, his now-disproved theories of “trickle down” economics stagnated job growth and wages for average Americans and initiated the great offshoring exodus of good paying jobs...all while making a small percentage of already wealthy citizens even more wealthy. Turns out that if you give a multi-millionaire a big tax break, he doesn’t go out and start new companies that employ lots of people…he buys a yacht and a vacation home in France.

Fourth, so...West is trying to argue that the modern day Republican Party is not in troubling times for itself? I'd concede perhaps not disarray. They still seem pretty unified in their help-the-wealthy, oil, small government, anti-women/gay platform. Seems like they are searching for a way to package that stuff up in a palatable way to remain relevant to most Americans after spending the last 30 years moving further and further to the right. 

Fifth, Allen is trying to pin downturns in our economy, energy sector and national security on Obama and the Ds. What? National security? I'm sorry, when was the last time we were attacked here at home? Oh yeah, 9-11 with an all R government. Who had the interest and balls to go after, find and kill Bin Laden? The Obama administration gets the credit there people. And lets not even get going on the economy. Implementation of conservative economic practice (even under Democratic president Clinton) during the 1980s and 1990s weakened our economy severely such that the all-R government from 2001-2007 fully crashed it in nearly devastating fashion. Since then, it's been recovery time...that's right, it's taking a while to get things back on track. 

Sixth, what's this "subjugation" West is talking about? You feel less free now than you did in, say, 2007? If you're saying yes, why? What specifically is it that the Federal government actually done to limit your freedom? Can you go anywhere you want? Can you talk to anyone you want? Can you buy as many God damn guns as you possibly can afford? Can you drive the kind of vehicle you want assuming you can afford it? Can you marry who you want? Are you forced to enter the draft to serve in the military? Do you have a choice of 87 types of toothpaste at the store? 

Finally, what do all these things tell us about a guy like West and those who follow him? I think it shows either a fundamental disconnect from actually, everyday society that's predicated on the "religion" of conservative politics OR it shows a genuine, sad ignorance of some Republican Party leaders. Either way, the nuts are running the show over there in R land and it ain't pretty...which is too bad because an authentic conservative voice is one that should be part of our political dialog. But instead we get Allen's type of rhetoric a lot. 


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