November 15, 2008
Life of the party
By Bill Kraus
Mark Twain had it only half right when he said, “I don’t belong to an organized party. I’m a Democrat.”
It’s hard to believe that the Dems are any more disorganized, disorderly, disputatious than the GOP.
We start where the Democrats start, with the always reliable yellow dogs who will vote for a yellow dog before they will vote for a Democrat. This faction of the party is still voting against FDR or for Alf Landon and always will. All the party has to do is make sure to turn them out.
The noisiest, if not the most populous, splinter group of Republicans are the mad dogs. They do not simply disagree with the Democrats. They hate them. The mad dogs believe anything bad that is said or invented about their evil enemies. They are inspired, led, and fed by the talk radio hosts who demean everything they touch. They are, of course, unfit to govern, because governing involves compromise and compromise involves talking to your adversaries.
In a happier time for the GOP, the leaders of the party were able to marginalize the mad dogs. No one (other than the Dems' mad dogs, of course) thought that the screamers represented the mainstream of Republican policy or thought.
Recently, enough candidates have elevated theocratic and behavioral issues to their short lists to give the impression that this is where the heart and soul of the party lies, that boring virtues like frugality and competence have been abandoned or pushed aside. Troubling.
Another faction is smaller, less visible, and more difficult in a way. It is the anarchists. They are mostly rich and smart. They are the legitimate heirs of the Boston Tea Party. They do not believe in government. They really do not believe in taxation. Their perfect world would have no public schools, toll highways, privatized police and fire protection, the whole nine yards. They nest in the Republican Party because they are smart enough to know the Libertarians are all hat and no cattle, and the Dems would reject them like alien tissue.
The most important segment of traditional Republicans is composed of what we used to call “moderates.” They believe the public sector has a legitimate role in government but not the starring role. They want the government to work. They are not susceptible to flights of fancy. They are not cavalier about using military power. And, alas, they are recessive.
When the party had the power to slate, fund, and manage, the moderates ran the party. When politics went entrepreneurial, they quit going to the considerable trouble of doing this difficult work and of marginalizing the mad dogs and the single-issue zealots.
They are not going to the other side, but they are available to attractive Democratic candidates. One longtime Republican stalwart says he is a “former Republican,” another calls herself an “independent.”
The blueness of Wisconsin in 2008 can be attributed in no small measure to their votes. Not all of them defected, and not a few of them voted against McCain to punish Bush, which is not fair but neither is politics. The fact that McCain did get a surprising 47 percent of the national vote indicates that a lot of them did not stray after all; no doubt reluctant to pass too much power to the Democrats for fear that the Dems might really keep their campaign promises.
The situation is, as they say, fluid. If the next generation’s Ody Fish should rise from the ashes, if Tommy of the “big tent” comes to the rescue, if the moderate middle decides the remnants of the GOP are worth saving, the party will be on the road to recovery.
But these are some very large “ifs.”
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Mark Twain never said that. Will Rogers said something sort of like that. When quoting historical figures, please check a source or two first. You can even use the internet . . . but I trust reference books more. Check ANYTHING ascribed to Twain, Lincoln, Franklin, or either Roosevelt.
-O. Steinberg | St. Paul, MN | November 17, 2008
Blue Wisconsin? It sure don't feel like that in Dodge County or Jefferson County, or Washington, Waukesha....We worked very hard to get what we got in Dodge County-it's red all over here! So many people are afraid to speak; so many people who believe all the stuff from right wing Nuts and parrot it ad infinitum. As long as people call themselves "dittoheads" there's no hope for them. Really! To be proud of being a...mindless repeater?
Another writer complains about Air America....I'd be lost without it. They probably have a job that keeps their mind occupied. It's hard not to feel isolated with just my print media...but i think the writer who thinks Stewart and Colbert aren't funny probably has access to see them regularly. It took me quite a while before I saw a daily show that was blah, but i rarely catch it at my sister's. It's been better than what's available to me-no cable, no web-i'm at the library.
I get tired of "shows", whether on tv,print, radio, npr,Jean Ferraca, Feldman, old time radio, the car guys-i'm back listening after a long time and they aren't annoying! I picked up a time magazine and couldn't stop reading! whew! It was sort of spooky. Age?
Some people get worn out on a resource/source....i think that's a good trait.
If only people would get tired of all those troublemakers on fox,etc. I try not to be "elitist" but how in the #@4# can those people suck that all up? It dumbfounds me completely. Am i sucking it up from the other side? 1st-there's more than 2 sides. And second-it makes sense, has backup, has what i see as truth! Geesh! My son was 9 years old at most when he said "that's a Lie!" regarding George W.! And some of the peple i encountered while promoting Obama? I'm sorry but I have to feel superior to them or I'd shoot myself!
-NLL | Watertown, WI | November 17, 2008