America is a one party state. The Democratic Party is the sole political party in the US now.
It has become a clearing house for religious fanatics, Ayn Rand groupie weirdos and angry white racists driven literally mad by seeing a black man in the White House, a black man more articulate and intelligent -- not to mention annoyingly even tempered -- than they or their bizarre leaders are.
I was a Republican activist in the 1970s and 80s. My father was a founder of the religious right and I was his sidekick. What he and I did --sadly -- still resonates today.
For instance Michele Bachmann got into politics because of reading my father's work. I escaped -- fled -- in the early 1990s. But I do know the Republicans from the inside and in the past hung around with the likes of the Bush Sr., family, the Fords, Bill Buckley etc. And whatever you may think of those Republicans, they belonged to a normal -- if misguided -- political party.
No more. Roll over in your grave Jack Kemp! Call your office Bill Buckley!
As Hal Crowther writes:
The Republican Party's slapstick search for a leader would be heartwarming and sidesplitting, but for the tragic knowledge that one of these scrambling midgets will collect tens of millions of votes in the presidential election of 2012. Never have so many amounted to so little, talked so much rubbish, dreamed of an office so far above their abilities. Blood pressures rose among party elders when Donald Trump, marginally Republican and one of the greatest fools in the solar system, momentarily tossed his hairpiece into the ring and became the instant favorite.
The GOP dilemma -- a golden opportunity to rule but nothing to say and no one to say it -- is so desperate that my instinct is to help them sort it out. Could we make a start, at least, by dismissing candidates who called for President Obama's birth certificate or raised the specter of Sharia law in America, followed briskly off the stage by lunatics who dismiss global warming as a socialist plot?
That would leave plenty of unbalanced extremists still in the running, yet reduce the stench of sheer evil and madness. The "birther" and Sharia cults reek of cheesy talk-radio racism; climate-change denial is a stranger faith yet, a political assault on basic science that insults a ground squirrel's intelligence and casually threatens the survival of life on earth.
That is what, not whom, President Obama will run against in 2012. He will be running against the "party" that in the matter of the debt crisis is happy to take the whole county with them over the cliff of loony and contradictory Bible-based/Ayn Rand-inspired, ideology into economic chaos. None of which any former Republicans, let alone any actual Christians -- i.e., those who try to follow the teachings of Christ -- would recognize.
This folly will not be forgotten. Nor will the insanity of the Rick Perry prayer meeting sponsored by a list of homophobic fanatics.
No matter what the president has to do to resolve this manufactured debt limit crisis, he will do something effective. And he will -- once again -- succeed in confounding his insane far right/religious right critics, and also once again prove his left wing critics wrong.
President Obama towers over his political rivals, left and right.
While the country and many of its leaders seem to feed on hysteria, the president takes the long view, and consistently wins.
The "disappointed" left says president Obama sold out.
The racist-laced Medicaid-mugging, billionaire-codling right staggers under the weight of terminal "birther" mythology-to-Ayn Rand "economics" of fascist selfishness.
Meanwhile president Obama continues to bide his time and looks down the road to the post-2012 reality when his patience with an impatient country filled with some very silly people, his thoughtfulness in the context of a sound-bite-entertain-ourselves-to-death era of short attention spans and historical amnesia will be vindicated.
If you think that president Obama played the Republicans in the last lame duck congress like a violin just wait until after 2012. Just wait to see how he end runs the opposition both left and right, and scores big for the moderate middle in the debt crisis.
The disappointment on the left has apparently led some folks to concoct an alternate reality in which -- in a mirror image of the loony embittered far right, not to mention in a mirror image of people like Sarah Palin who have made a profitable career out of being professional Obama haters -- no matter what president Obama does they dismiss it.
In other words some on the left don't just disagree on tactics they act like jilted lovers (and/or opportunistic cynics trolling for the next book advance) and have turned their once too-ardent love into hate.
The president's critics left and right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history.
Meanwhile back in the real world ...
• Health care reform passed
• Bin Laden is dead
• Gay rights in the military took a quantum leap
• The economy began to revive and will again after the President resolves the debt crisis one way or another
• The world loved an American president for the first time in half a century
• The war in Iraq drew down
• America foiled countess terror attacks
• We're drawing down in Afghanistan
And in post-Libya intervention President Obama has in a little noticed historic move -- changed America's arrogant unilateral habit of global intervention perfected by Bush II.
Mr. Kupchan (of the Council on Foreign Relations) says that something new about Obama regarding actual change is the way he acts in international interventions. "The governing mantra since World War II has been, 'America is out in front,' so it's quite striking how prominent the administration's focus is on letting others take the lead," he says. "It's really kind of revolutionary."
... And everything president Obama has done he did against the backdrop of a hate campaign against him -- from the right and the left -- the likes of which no American president has faced since Lincoln faced down the slave-owning states.
Make no mistake the Tea Party, the rise of shills-for-profit like Palin, Bachmann, Trump et al, the sale of bumper stickers calling for the president's death (Psalm 109) etc., etc., all add up to one thing: the white rube underclass is lashing out. (Jimmy Carter was correct; it's always about race in America.)
And in THIS context, with the just-say-no Republicans doing nothing but obstructing him our first black president has nevertheless:
Extended child tax credits and marriage-penalty fixes; killed bin Laden: increased minority access to capital; established a credit card bill of rights; expanded loan programs for small businesses; closed the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription drug plan, required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions; required children to have health insurance coverage; expanded eligibility for Medicaid; increased the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health workers, fully fund the Veterans Administration, fully funded the Violence Against Women Act; directed military leaders to end war in Iraq; sought verifiable reductions in nuclear stockpiles; repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy; raised fuel economy standards and reversed restrictions on stem cell research...defended a woman's right to abortion...
While President Obama brilliantly cajoled 13 Republicans to join every Democratic senator to ratify the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia, adding (as the Times put it) "the capstone to what now shapes up to be a remarkably successful legislative agenda for President Obama's first two years..." And while President Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell into law and while President Obama orchestrated the push back in the Senate -- that then unanimously approved a bill to pay for the medical care of workers who cleaned up ground zero... the president also kept proving that his rabid critics on the right, who have been working so hard to undermine his presidency at every turn, are dead wrong. And then president Obama foiled the great Tea Party budget "victory" of April 2011.
We Americans are very lucky people. A sane and compassionate president is in charge.
Maybe when President Obama is able to once again pull one out of the fire for sanity's sake, and America's sake in the debt crisis, maybe some of his usual critics on the left will at least admit that he is a good president, maybe a great one -- and that 2012 looks good.
As for the "Republicans," there are none, just a rag-tag group of losers who have hooked their despicably low expectations to bronze-age biblical myths on the one hand and a cult of anti-middle class selfishness and union-busting, job-exporting, billionaire-worship on the other.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His new book is, Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible's Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway.