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Ruminations of a Feisty Old Quaker

No, Not Republicans

Warning: Rant.

I have been up since 5:30 this morning. I'm a night person, but I couldn't sleep for the anger. Anger at the travesty that currently passes for politics in Washington, D.C. Anger at the Kavanaugh "hearing" and "investigation" (quotes around both of those, please). Anger at party-line politicians who just "go along". Anger at Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.

Anger, mostly, at "Republicans".

No, NOT "anger at Republicans." I want to make this clear. Anger at "Republicans". Quotes around the name only. Those using that name in Washington right now are not really Republicans. They are usurpers who have latched onto a good name for convenience's sake, and are proceeding to stomp on it and drag it through the mud.

My parents were Republicans most of the time I was growing up. They left the party over Dick Nixon - not because of Watergate, but because of the anti-Catholic tirades from Nixon's supporters following his loss to John Kennedy. Nixon's own behavior later merely confirmed their decision. But Nixon was a Republican saint compared to Donald Trump.

Then there was Everett Dirksen. Back in the Nixon era, he was the Senate Majority Leader; one of the Senate's office buildings is named for him. My grandmother - a lifelong Republican - was his 4th grade teacher. "I didn't like him when he was nine years old, and I don't like him now," she told my mother in 1960, a few weeks before she died. But Dirksen was a pillar of Republican virtue compared to Mitch McConnell.

Politics used to be described as "the art of the possible." Trump and McConnell have made it the art of the bulldozer. It was once a delicate dance of honorable disagreements among lawmakers, resolved into laws through a well-honed and well-respected process. Trump and McConnell have trampled that process to bits, they have no apparent respect for honor, and they have all the delicacy of a rampaging elephant in combat boots. What are we to make of an "investigation" into the dispute between Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Ford that interviews neither Kavanaugh nor Ford? That ignores all witnesses Ford and her attorney have tried to put forward? That refuses to even recognize the existence of complaints against Kavanaugh by other women? The FBI was clearly kept on a tight rein by its handlers, and told whom it could talk to and what it could ask; the result was not just a foregone conclusion, but something that was dictated from the beginning by the rules the investigation was required to follow. And now McConnell righteously stands up and proclaims that Kavanaugh has been "exonerated." There has been no exoneration - there has not even been a realistic search for one. The whole thing has been a sham. But the man who refused to even meet with President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court - the man who stole Merrick Garland's appointment to the Court by sitting on it for nearly a year - now complains that those who seek to follow good process, instead of ramming a nominee through without proper vetting, are "obstructing." What manner of human being can do that, and still sleep at night and look in the mirror in the morning?

Liberals such as myself are not the only ones who are getting angry about this stuff. Conservative columnists such as George Will and Nicholas Kristof have also lambasted the current antics in Washington, with Will going so far as to say that the only cure will be to vote the current Republicans out. (He stopped short of saying "vote for Democrats," but there is no other real choice.) Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain left specific instructions telling those planning his funeral to bar Donald Trump from attending. But their voices have largely been shouted down by the massed power of money. Money which is being poured into public discourse to spread the lies of men - they are almost all men - who already have plenty of the stuff but are greedy for more. Money that bought the Citizens United verdict, which released even more money into politics. Money that fuels Fox "News" and calls everything except Fox "fake news". It has been claimed that "money is speech." That is bullshit. Money is not speech: money is a megaphone. It selectively amplifies some voices over others, and there is nothing democratic - small "d" democratic - and nothing honorable about its political role. Nothing at all.

I have never been a reliable Democratic vote; my vote has gone to plenty of Republicans in the past. To Mark Hatfield and Tom McCall and Lenn Hannon, to name a few of my favorites here in Oregon. To Norma Paulus, an Oregon Secretary of State who was a strong Republican voice for equal justice and sane environmental protection in the late 1980s. (I found myself next to Paulus in a buffet line at an awards banquet once, but that was after she was elected, not before, so it couldn't have influenced my vote.) Most recently, my vote went to Alan DeBoer - whom I had worked with in city government and knew to be honorable - in the last Oregon State Senate election before this one. These were all honorable human beings, who looked at opponents as humans and at disagreements as challenges to be worked through. Trump and McConnell look at opponents and disagreements as obstacles to be bowled over, and they are perfectly willing to violate due process, standards of truth, and common human decency in order to do it.

No. Not Republicans. Not the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. Not even the party of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The current Republican Party has become the tool and toy of dishonorable men who have wormed themselves into the seats of power, and are using the power those seats give them to destroy the process that put them there. To destroy the entire American political system, if that's what it takes to keep themselves on top of it. Not Republicans, only "Republicans".

Only "Christians," too. But that is a completely different rant.

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