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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Myth of Disappearing Moderates

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When a party’s political appeal is based primarily on extreme right-wing positions, it’s amusing to watch leaders try to explain why some extreme right-wing positions are just too ridiculous.

Wisconsin Republicans have been trying desperately to do that ever since tea party activists forced a vote at next week’s state convention on whether Wisconsin should threaten to secede from the union.

Needless to say, neither Gov. Scott Walker nor U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, sniffing around the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, want to disqualify themselves by having Wisconsin withdraw from the United States.

But when you intentionally try to attract right-wing crazies to your party, there’s always the possibility of totally irrational folks taking control.

The most underreported story since the election of the first African American president has been just how much deeper into the ugliest reaches of the far right it has driven the Republican Party.

There was a brief moment after President Barack Obama was re-elected handily in 2012 when Republicans considered reaching out to all the groups they were alienating, including racial minorities, women, immigrants and young people. Instead, the Republican tent seems to have gotten even smaller, extending primarily from the nutty far right to the nuttier farther right.

The corporate media doesn’t have the courage to call out Republicans for their ugliness so it blurs the truth by claiming moderates are disappearing from both parties. But that’s really not so.

Anyone who wants an example of a moderate Democrat needs to look no further than the White House. The fact that Republicans relentlessly attack Obama as some kind of far-left, Muslim socialist says a lot more about Republicans than it does about Democrats.

Even Obama’s landmark legislation to expand health care to Americans who need it, which infuriated Republicans, avoided truly liberal alternatives such as single-payer government health care or even a public option in favor of delivering as many as 30 million new customers to private, for-profit insurance companies.

In Wisconsin, the retirements of Republican state senators Mike Ellis and Dale Schultz, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Petri and Democratic state Sen. Tim Cullen are cited to support the media myth of disappearing moderates. They’re all veteran legislators who occasionally had the independence to stray from strict party lines.

But, again, only the three Republicans are examples of the extermination of moderates. Ellis, Schultz and Petri all were facing the possibility of tea party challenges for not being ugly and extreme enough for today’s Republican Party.

Ellis, a long-time Republican leader, was even sabotaged by James O’Keefe, a nationally known, right-wing Republican hit man notorious for smearing political opponents with clandestinely shot, often fraudulently edited videos.

Cullen’s retirement, on the other hand, had more to do with the frustration of being a decent, powerless Democrat in a government totally controlled by indecent, right-wing Republicans.

 

Democrats Embrace Bipartisan Policies

Moderation has never disappeared from the Democratic Party. In fact, most of the issues uniting Democrats today are the very definition of moderation. That’s why those issues also are embraced by a majority of Americans, Democratic and Republican.

You know, proposals that mass murderers shouldn’t have easy access to deadly automatic weapons that can shoot hundreds of rounds of ammunition a minute without going through background checks.

Or that people working full time should be paid a minimum wage at least high enough to escape poverty. And during hard times when three people are applying for every existing job opening, those who can’t find work should receive unemployment assistance to help them survive.

Food stamps were created as a moderate, bipartisan program, led by liberal Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern and conservative Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, in the belief that people shouldn’t go hungry in the richest nation on earth.

It’s certainly a moderate position that legislative Democrats support a woman’s right to choose whether to give birth to a child, a constitutional right in America for more than 40 years.

What’s radically immoderate is that the governor and every single Republican in the Wisconsin Legislature, male and female, want to take that freedom away from women. That includes Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling, a former board member of Planned Parenthood.

It’s funny how Obama’s election suddenly started some Republicans reexamining their loyalty to America.

That’s when Republicans began blocking every national effort to create jobs to help Americans recover from the second worst economic crisis in history, a profoundly unpatriotic act.

There was a time when national holidays were occasions for Republicans to wrap themselves in the flag and loudly proclaim themselves the most passionate super patriots who ever lived. 

But our founding fathers’ fancy words about equality obviously have gotten out of hand when an African American and now possibly even a woman can be elected president.

Wisconsin Republicans now have to decide whether they even want to remain a part of this country. Well, don’t let the door hit your behinds.