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A supporter reacts to voting results displayed on a television screen during Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Boston. (David Goldman/AP)

More than a half century ago, in the waning days of Jim Crow, Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was a leading voice for the notion that if the South lost segregation, the apocalypse would be upon us.

The brilliant Washington Post cartoonist Herbert Block, a.k.a. Herblock, dashed off a drawing of “Thurmondland,” a dark place filled with goblins, lightning flashes and all sorts of other phantasms.

If Herblock were alive today, he could draw a similar cartoon of “Republicanland.”

I remember a time when birth control was not the province of “sluts” … when the party faithful would have been appalled to see its primary candidates raise their hands to signal they did not believe in evolution.

It would be peopled by President Barack Obama holding a Marxist hammer and sickle while wearing the Mau Mau garb of violent African anti-colonialists, by government bureaucrats with huge vampire teeth designing “death panels” to kill off granny, and by women who had been “legitimately raped” churning out magic hormones to keep them from getting pregnant.

As author and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum so tellingly put it in a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, a “conservative entertainment complex” has “fleeced and exploited and lied to” Republicans. Frum went on:

The real locus of the problem is the Republican activist base and the Republican donor base. They went apocalyptic over the past four years and that was exploited by a lot of people in the conservative world… What happened to Mitt Romney was he was twisted into pretzels. The people who put cement shoes on his feet are now blaming him for sinking.


Last Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press, former John McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said he worries that now, when people think of conservatives, they will think of “loons and wackos.”

People who have only been focusing on politics for the last four years may not know that a different GOP once existed. I do.

I remember a time when birth control was not the province of “sluts” (thank you Rush Limbaugh), but rather it was a responsible Republican answer to such issues as poverty and family stability. Sen. Prescott Bush, father of President George H.W. Bush, was an early supporter of Planned Parenthood.

I remember when President Richard Nixon signed Title Nine into law, giving girls equal resources in athletics. That law produced an entire generation of female Olympic medal winners. Nixon also put into place a broad environmental program that became the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

I remember a time when many Republicans would have been appalled by the fact that primary candidates raised their hands to signal they did not believe in evolution, that Senate candidate Todd Akin evoked the aforementioned magic hormones theory of biology in his comments about “legitimate rape,” and that at this year’s Republican National Convention presidential candidate Mitt Romney made light of global warming — suggesting that while President Obama wanted to slow the rise of oceans, he was going to get people back to work.

Republicans were once champions of the federal support of science, not its opponents. The 1960 Republican platform reads:

Our continuing and great national need is for basic research—a wellspring of knowledge and progress. Government must continue to take a responsible role in science to assure that worth-while endeavors of national significance are not retarded by practical limitations of private and local support.


I remember a time when paranoid fantasies were more the domain of pamphleteers on street corners than of discussions on national television. Admittedly, part of this is due to the omnipresent 24-hour media, which produces what I call “information debris.” But, even still, how could anyone take Donald Trump’s “birther” nonsense seriously? Why did anyone give air time to Dinesh D’Souza when he claimed that President Obama hated white people? Why wasn’t Michele Bachmann laughed off the airwaves when she claimed that panels of doctors set up to advise elders with end-of-life decisions were in fact “death squads”?

Republicans have been fleeced and exploited and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex…
– David Frum, author and former George W. Bush speechwriter

For the good of the country this GOP fantasyland must be dismantled. Our Founding Fathers, familiar with the monarchies of Europe, created a government that relies on two rational parties coming together and reaching compromise. Our system makes it hard to gain absolute power – but the trade-off is that if we are unable to come together in the middle, we’re doomed to a state of perpetual gridlock.

White, Christian, male, anti-science, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay is really what Republicanland, America is all about. And if that platform persists, GOP will come to mean Grand Obsolete Party.

What do we do then?

Maybe we could bring back the Whigs.

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  • joanne

    Another hit piece from a bias left wing “journalist” who selectively uses quotes to make her point. Out of the 535 people in the House and Senate, 282 are republicans and 251 are democrats, but the left wing media keeps calling the end of the republican party. The numbers don’t back up the assertions. Would this so-called “journalist” be calling an end to the democrat party if Romney won 51-48? I doubt it. The left loves to selectively identify certain people who say something stupid whom are not democrats and label everyone else as such. Stop the racism accusations. A person can’t be anymore gutless with that garbage. It says so much more about the person making the claims than it does of the group they so desperately want to demean. I bet Rivers next article will be “Why can’t the two parties work together?”. Here’s an idea, stop calliing everyone a lying racist! Who the hell wants to work with someone who calls you a racist from one side of her mouth and then from her other side asks what’s the problem?
    With Grayson from Florida back, is it all right to label the democrat party a bunch of Alan Grayson’s. I doubt that also. Also, who the hell cares about Trump?
    As an independant, this garbage is becoming sickening.

    • Samuel Walworth

      Joanne,

      How would you like to feel if (God forbid) you were a rape victim and got pregnant, and were labelled not a victim because you got pregnant from the rape? (remember, all legitimate rapes have a body triggered contraceptive reaction)

      Or, how would you feel, if you were in early twenties and out of college and suffering from Diabetes Type 1 and there was no provision for you to get a health insurance? (remember prior to ACA there was no help for the kids in a situation like this)

      Or if the food you eat or the toys your kids play were tainted with lead (EPA = job killing machine) while you suffer, the people say, the market will take care of the company who did it you?

      Or, if you were the kid of an illegal immigrant who was brought into the USA as a child and now in early 20s?

      These are few fundamental things on which the GoP goes so much to the Right, that it just sounds that the GoP suffers from common sense anorexia.

      • Joanne

        First of all, thank you for acknowledging my ranting. I try to find good intellectual reading and all I ever find is crap like above.

        Your comments are making my point. Just because some moron in Oklahoma makes a stupid statement, it doesn’t mean all non democrats think like that.
        There are parts of the health law that republicans want to keep and I believe your example is one of them. There are things in the law that need reviewing – remember Pelosi said we need to pass the law to know what’s in it? If a republican said that about a bill, I’m guessing that quote would be the lead of every left wing conversation.

        As for the EPA, please name the person who wants children to die from lead poisoning? I’m guessing you can’t or maybe some idiot said something and now you want to label all non democrats as such. Again, making my point. You might have gotton that from Grayson…lol.

        As for immigration, I haven’t heard anyone regardless of party who has the courage to articulate anything worth repeating. All I ever here is the left calling everyone a racist.

        You’re affirming my comments. The left is more concerned about labeling and demeaning non democrats, grouping everyone together that oppose them and then wonder why people can’t work together. It’s so petty. The right can do the same. It can quote some obsolete democrat congressman, some MSNBC fanatic or something Stephanie Miller says on radio and label all non republicans as such. Where will that get us?
        As said before, it’s becoming sickening.

    • Tired of it

      You’re right Joanne. It’s always the Republicans getting the bad rap. When a Democrat blunders, it gets laughed off. When it’s a Republican, the Democrats jump all over it as if that Republican is a bad person. Enough is enough. If we’re all reasonable people, then let’s act like it. Believing in the theory of one party doesn’t make the others wrong or bad.

    • Sinclair2

      To Joanne:

      My impression from this article is all about the Republican Party and its need to change by citing examples from the cast of characters who appear to dominate as radical members. I think Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, in addition to other Republicans, would agree with many of the points discussed here and who are now calling for diversity and inclusion by enlarging their “tent”.
      Your claim to be an “Independent” falls short when you refer to Democrats as “the left”, and those on the right as Republicans. The “racism accusations” will stop when the racism stops.

      Scott Brown in his regular guy role in the debate said, “Look at her. Does she look like a Native American?” That was a profiling-style racist remark. There are MANY minorities who don’t look the part. (and i’m not saying E. Warren is a minority) We are a melting pot and it’s difficult to identify minorities today by what they look like. He was appealing to the ignorant and to those who think in black and white terms.

      Look up Oklahoma Indian Jim Thorpe’s descendants on “Google” and see what they look like, If Thorpe were around today, he would have flattened Scott Brown for his remarks. I firmly believe that Scott Brown is ignorant on the subject and that’s where racism begins.

    • Matt

      Joanne,
      I believe you are missing the point of this piece. No where in the article does the author paint “all republicans” with one brush. Instead the focus is on Republicans who get air play, who have come to represent the party.These figureheads hurt the Republican party. “Legitimate Rape” was not a gaffe to many voters. It was seen as the stance of the Republican party, because this is how it is presented to them by Republican media. If Rush Limbaugh calls people who use birth control sluts and officials running for a position essentially echo this sentiment, how is a voter supposed to think of the Republican party? This article is saying the Republican media is killing the party, not the base, which you seemed to take offense at. Also, as for your house remark, the house remained largely unchanged due to Gerrymandering throughout the states. Both Democrats and Republicans alike made sure the house would not change much at all. The house is not a reliable weather vane for the health of either party.

    • KMH001

      Joanne can you please point out where Caryl Rivers makes claim that any republican is a racist? Are you saying Strom Thurmond was not racist in his ideas in 1960? Ms. Rivers is simply using his failed apocalyptic prediction as an example of the tide that has currently washed over the republican party. The country did not collapse after “Jim Crow” slipped into history and it will not crash and burn if Bush’s tax cuts expire.

      You also say she “selectively” identifies people who say something stupid. Todd Akin has served has served as a representative since 2001 and won his parties nomination for Senate in 2012. I wouldn’t consider him obsolete. He sat on the House Committee on Science. No he is not representative of all republicans but he is representative of the Republican Party. His statement was not some silly slip of the tongue. It was something he must truly believe.

      The article gives a quote from the 1960 Republican Platform in support of science and contrasts it with current republican leaders’ attack on science, including climate change and evolution. Is that calling anyone a “lying racist”? She is not labeling anyone anything here but simply stating the facts. There are republican who believe in evolution and in climate change but they have no voice in the party leadership.

      You ask who cares about Donald Trump. The Republican Party leadership and many of the right wing journalists, that’s who. The Republican Party toyed with him as a legitimate candidate. They gave him a voice as they have given a voice to the “Birthers.”

      No lets get to your points about labeling and name calling.

      1.) You are the one who brings up the term racist and lying racist. It does not appear in the article.

      2.) You use the pejorative “Democrat Party” instead of the actual name of the DEMOCRATIC Party showing your own bias towards the Republican Party as apposed to the Independent you claim to be.

      3.) You use quotes around the term journalist when referring to the author, implying she is not legitimate. in fact you call her biassed and gutless.

      4.) It was Rush Limbaugh, a conservative commentator, who used the word “slut” when describing a young woman who sought to maintain her right to contraception.

      5.) It was Mitt Romney who labeled 47% of americans as people who seek handouts. 3% of our citizens are on welfare. 8% are on unemployment. Many are unable to work due to injury or physical disability. Many are veterans suffering from PTSD. Many work hard at low wage jobs, sometimes more than one job. Most all are honest and hardworking.

      So tell me again who it is that wants to promote class warfare?
      Who is it that uses the race card to gain advantage?
      Who fired the first salvo in the “War on Women”?

  • Jasoturner

    Conservative is not a synonym for republican. Indeed, many republican social positions are decidedly anti-conservative. If a true conservative party existed today, and I am thinking of something along the lines of 1950-1960 era republicanism, there is no way it would find shelter in the modern republican party. The elephant has changed too much over time.

  • CircusMcGurkus

    Thank you for this. Some of us progressives also remember a Republican party that would welcome us, too (anyone remember Teddy Roosevelt?) The current forces in the Republican Party are not conservative. They are reactionary. Thoughtful conservative voices are as marginalized as progressive voices as we morph into a nation of extremist political parties despite the fact that most of us have beliefs somewhere in the middle – so we seek shelter in one or the other party even though neither fully represents us.

    This is NOT about Romney – no one knows where he stands. He is utterly rudderless; but he was persuaded by the market forces (no other way to make sense to him) within his party that extremism in defense of idiocy is no vice. The bizarre fundamentalist movement in this country found a home and support in the party of Lincoln – an unimaginable catastrophe. It did this because it got evicted from its old abode, the Democratic Party (William Jennings Bryan, anyone?)

    I lament daily that our schools fail to teach history well – it is the story of people and it is exciting and complex. The nuances are lost because we do not learn the developments along the way and have no frame of reference. This is the opposite of what the Framers envisioned. They envisioned enlightened, educated masses who would discuss ideas and govern themselves intelligently. It is inconceivable that any of them – conservative, liberal, progressive, revolutionary – would have imagined a populace that would be arguing whether science existed or math were actually comprised of real, not imaginary, numbers.

  • rironin

    One issue: “Our Founding Fathers, familiar with the monarchies of Europe, created a government that relies on two rational parties coming together and reaching compromise. ”

    Didn’t our Founding Fathers fear and dread a two-party system, and warn of the evils it would cause if allowed to develop? I don’t get the impression that a two-party system was ever deliberately built in to the design.

    • CircusMcGurkus

      It kind of was. If the Framers desired a lot of parties, they would have developed a parliament, but they did not; Federalists and Democrat-Republicans tousled for opportunities to advance the young nation. A number of parties grew and fractured from these early ones. Soon, party “machines” took root and would become a major force for driving the vote in local, state and national elections. The primary motivator behind these machines and their power was patronage…but the end of patronage (or the emergence of merit based civil service) did not destroy the machines or the influence.

      Do not believe for one second that money is new in politics – President Polk disdained the “lobbyists” who hung around the capital pushing their agendas. And, realistically, people will gravitate toward the money and influence of the major parties.

      Third parties exist. 100 years ago, Theodore Roosevelt ran on a 3d party ticket, splitting the electorate resulting in the election of Wilson. To a lesser degree, John Anderson influenced the vote in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992. There are a number of parties out there: Jill Stein, Gary Johnson and others were all on the ballot for president. But, just as at the beginning, there are 2 major groups and people tend to fall within one or the other. Lincoln ran on a minor party platform…and won…but that just allowed Republicans to take the place of the Whigs, not sit alongside them.

    • massappeal

      You’re right; a two-party system wasn’t deliberately built into the Constitution. It’s just the incentives in the Constitution for electing a president—primarily the electoral college—have ended up privileging a two-party system because a majority of electoral votes is required to get elected president.

  • http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/ Frannie Carr

    Folks,
    We encourage discussion and robust debate in this space — but it must be civil.

    In case you need a refresher, you can read WBUR’s community discussion guidelines here:
    http://www.wbur.org/community/rules

    Thanks,
    Frannie
    editor/producer, cognoscenti.wbur.org

  • blueshift

    There are a couple inaccuracies in the writeup that make me wonder about some other claims (though the gestalt is true enough). Death panels, not death squads. And our founding fathers created a government that would operate WITHOUT parties…and noisily warned AGAINST two-party government. It’s a testament to their creation that despite many things that would grieve them, their Constitution has proven far more durable than the 19 years they gave it, and established our great nation.

  • MaxEntropy

    The Tea Party would have remained a fringe movement had not big media publicized its passionate lunacy – especially on taxation and social issues – to provide excitement in the melodramas they present as political coverage. Progressives making impassioned yet reasoned pleas for humane public policies have not been similarly hyped by the media. Until the media raises the bar for what’s politically newsworthy and reports on how people working together rather than shouting can achieve positive change, nothing much will change.

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