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Nory Fussell: The GOP that was

Nory Fussell

Here are some notable quotes by Republican leaders, past and present:

1. Lincoln said that, “Government of The People, by The People, for The People shall not perish from this Earth.”

2. Nixon said, “… when a president does it, it is not illegal.”

3. Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

4. Grover Norquist, a party strategist said, “Our goal is to shrink the government to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

5. Newt Gingrich, “Politics and war are remarkably similar situations,” and “The problem with Republicans is they haven’t been nasty enough.”

6. Trump said, “I love the poorly educated.”

Clearly, we’ve seen an anti-government, anti-democracy, anti-social descent toward what is today’s GOP. Not clear is the disappearance of old-school Republicans, principled people with the capacity and the courage to practice the politics of discourse and negotiation with dignity and respect for the opposition, and for the institutions. Where is that voice?

Not clear is why so many Republican voters are from the working class and the poor, those whom the party serves the least. Alongside a deeply anti-woman, anti-reproductive rights agenda, Republicans have also rejected funding to provide meals for school children, debt relief for graduates, and care for wounded veterans. They turn their backs on gun-control laws and deny the climate crisis. The list is long. Whither the principled Republicans?

We see a party hard at work manipulating the electoral system in order to secure victory. We’re given notice of a “civil war” should that victory be denied. Blatant ignorance and criminality go unchecked, even applauded, within the party, while increasingly crass and profane congresspersons outdo each other with crude language and “gotcha” shenanigans, staged for the cameras and meant to “own the libs.” Who elected these types?

My father would roil in his grave at what passes for his Grand Old Party today. Dad was a dedicated lifelong Republican. In 2008, speaking of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bush cabal, he said, “These people aren’t Republicans. They’ve gone too far.” At 94, he gathered up his courage, his self-respect, and changed his voter registration. He’d found his drop-out point.

And he absolutely hated Fox News. In 1996, Fox News was created to provide “a brutal, vicious attack on the opposition,” that opposition being a “liberal media” that drove Richard Nixon from office for his CRIMES. Under the gimmicky motto of “Fair and Balanced,” Fox’s attack-media gave rise to the “entertainment” of fear-and-hatred – from Rush to Tucker, cynical mouthpieces intentionally, perhaps fatally, wounding the national psyche. This appeal abets the intentional “dumbing-down” of America (No. 6 above).

A Google search of Republican Party principles reveals a predilection with countering “the left,” or “the far left.” Defining yourself by your opposition, not by what you stand for, is a weak and unprincipled position. Also revealed in that search is how, in 1854, the party was founded to abolish slavery. Today’s Republicans are hard at work trying to make voting-while-Black considerably more difficult. The BLM movement is anathema to the party, but they’ll coddle white nationalists. What’s the word for that?

A half-century ago the United States had a strong middle class, with unions and jobs that sustained a family. We had college-level educations available at little or no cost. The economy was reasonably controlled and the homeless-to-billionaire divide was not the obscenity we see today. With a semi-functional Congress, the country felt strong and purposeful.

Alongside the downward moral slide of the quotes listed above, we’ve seen the gradual dismantling of what once could have been. Intent on denying social programs such as FDR’s New Deal, the power brokers, and their party, have groomed and unleashed unprincipled men, one after another, for decades. What’s in it for the hard-working, middle-class Republican voter?

Witness the current flood of confessional books and TV appearances by past party operators and strategists. It is estimated that about 30% of the former president’s supporters are turning away from him. Many of those who’ve come before the January 6th Committee are Republican “insiders” who are now abandoning the Big Lie.

To those who’ve identified as Republican for years, where is your Grand Old Party? Where is your voice? Do you speak for party or for country? Do you speak at all? Where is your drop-out point?

Nory Fussell

Nevada City


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