Sunday, October 05, 2008

What is wrong with the Republican Party?

Today, the McCain campaign unleashed its first wave of new attacks - on Obama's character. Why it has come to this is baffling.

Does anyone ever wonder what happened to the Republicans? I'm not sure where to start. Perhaps at the top - if you can separate issues into social and economic, why do the ideas of the intolerant and stupid (NO on abortion, stem cells, gay marriage, healthcare, and just about everything but guns and creationism) have to be tied together with a rational, sound economic philosophy (less regulation, free trade, etc.)? But that's a tirade for a different day.

Also, thanks to the last 8 years, the Republicans are no longer the party of smaller government. Despite McCain and Palin's cries to "reign in spending," there is little evidence from their past to suggest we'll see a significant change in the size of government in a McCain administration (and if McCain gets us into another war, spending will go up even more). But again, this is also a tirade for another day.

What boggles my mind right now is why the Republicans have become the party of lies, secrecy, incuriousness, and dumb/puppet candidates. With the above worries, you can sort of see how it all played out (the demographics forced politicians to pander to the South and Midwest for the first concern, and Bush being an idiot caused the second).

For all the presidential elections of this decade, you've seen the Repubilicans far more than the Democrats engage in smear tactics and dirty politics. Sure, there are lies on both sides, but tweaking numbers to come up with impressive statistics when attacking an opponent's tax plan just doesn't compare to claiming Obama wanted to teach sex ed to kindergartners.

Why? Why do they need to lie about these things? Why do they need to resort to smears and character attacks? Our country is in dire shape, and when we need to talk about the issues most, they're essentially saying they want to use the final month of the campaign to attack Obama's character.

And why do the Republicans have to so actively glorify stupidity and incuriousness? What the hell is good about being "shooting from the hip" when that involves oversimplifying real world situations and making mistakes (Iraq - "oh I bet they have nukes" or Katrina - "they'll be ok"). And why do they have to select such dumb candidates??? McCain doesn't know the first thing about the economy. Think about that for a second - EVERY law on the books has some sort of economic impact (for example, speed limits affect driving habits affect gas consumption). To elect a presidential nominee who does not grasp the basic principles of economics is insanity.

And then there is Sarah Palin. The woman drives home all of these stereotypes - she doesn't understand any economic or foreign policy issues, and she PURPOSEFULLY speaks like a moron because she wants to connect with Middle America.

There was a basic lesson of the past 8 years - dumb, incurious people who are hotheaded and don't listen to others make HORRIBLE Presidents. So, the Republicans present us with... John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Now are we bombarded with outright lies and character attacks on Obama. And McCain and Palin don't go to the bathroom without running it by their campaign managers to make sure it's ok. And we're left wondering who is really pulling the strings, and why the Republican Party has come to this.

What sucks is that the net result of all this is to drag down the discourse of the campaigns - now Obama is planning to hit back with an attack on McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal in the late 80's (though even this is a little better than just taking swipes at associations, like the McCain camp is doing). I hope it doesn't happen, but the last month of the election could really devolve into a smearfest (significantly more so than it already has).

But there is one glimmer of hope - call me crazy, but I think we could see the end of the Republicans at some point. Political parties don't last forever, and you can't help but ask yourself what exactly it is that this one stands for these days. If Obama can continue and expand on his momentum, we could see a landslide victory for him - imagine he goes so far as getting North Carolina, Indiana, and Missouri (meaning he definitely picks up Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado) - crossing 375 electoral votes isn't out of the question. That sort of stinging defeat combined with the Dems picking up a super majority (60 seats) in the Senate (an outside shot that grows in likelihood with each passing day), and maybe the end of the Republicans might not be so far-fetched.

And wouldn't that be a great thing. The party that rises in their ashes could really move this country forward.

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