BB King said it best when he sang "the thrill is gone." It certainly is no fun trying to defend Bush Republicanism going into the 2008 elections. Bush has simultaneously radicalized and corrupted the modern Republican Party. Unfortunately, the blight is bigger than the individuals running the Bush White House. The corruption and resulting incompetence has become institutionalized in the mechanics of the Republican political machine.
Recently, this writer held a discussion with Paul Tucker, Editor & Publisher of The Union News. He stated during that conversation that "Bush inherited a dynamic, strong and growing Republican Party and drove it over a cliff."
Surveying the wreckage, we can see a record number of Republican Congressional leaders announcing retirements. In the Senate, Democrats are likely to gain between 7 to 12 additional seats. Most polls predict fewer safe Republican seats in the House. Trends are all pointing towards a devastating defeat for Republicans in 2008 at all levels.
Some Republicans have been trying to distance themselves from Bush on a few key issues but are locked in a political death dance with their radicalized primary voters and severely corrupted corporate donor base. Republican candidates cannot win primaries without supporting Bush on Iraq. Candidates who support Bush on Iraq are going to get slaughtered nationally in the general election.
On trade policy, tax cuts for the wealthy, healthcare for children, no-bid contracts, torture, privacy, national health insurance, guaranteeing voting rights, punishing Republican politicians who are apparently lawbreakers (like Scooter Libby), expanding Presidential powers and many other issues, the Republican leadership and activist base hold views that large majorities of Americans oppose. Basically, the Republicans on most important issues are opposed to the views of the American people. It seems like a poor approach to winning elections for any political party.
Minority rule can only be imposed by the use of political tactics that offend ever growing majorities of voters. You can stop people from voting using various dirty tricks and illegal actions. You can corrupt the vote counts and obstruct recounts in contested elections. You can abuse your public office to serve partisan goals. You can corrupt law enforcement, prosecutions and trials for political gains. You can lie and lie and lie about everything.
You can smear your opponents. You can use fear, intimidation and character assassination. You can play parliamentary tricks like using filibusters to block overrides of vetoes. You can hide information about abuses using fake national security or executive privilege claims. You can engage in endless propaganda designed to prevent honest debate on the merits of policy. You can do many thing that might give your minority faction temporary victories. You can obstruct justice in many different ways.
Under Bush, the Republicans have used all of these offensive tactics and many more. The Bush era was born from these tactics in 2000. They have used them relentlessly, and fairly effectively, for the past 7 years but the results appear to have backfired. Moderates and fair-minded Republicans are leaving their Party in ever growing numbers. Democratic activism is growing. Independents are leaning very heavily toward the Democrats in all the polls on issue after issue.
Dirty tactics and poor policy positions have turned the Republicans into a shrinking minority. The more they shrink, the more they are reliant on dirty tactics and trapped by the radical, corrupt policy positions of those few who remain.
Right Wing Radicalism, cronyism, corruption and incompetence seem to dominate when Republicans rule. It is not much fun defending that kind of record or agenda. It is no fun being a Republican these days. It is not much fun being ruled by them, for the rest of us, either.
Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host, Democratic Talk Radio www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com and Editor of www.midatlanticlabor.com).