Sunday, May 22, 2016

Criminal Conspiracy, Or Fifth Column? You Decide

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Republican Party is either a criminal conspiracy, or a fifth column.  Those are admittedly strong words.  I did not write them lightly, and I do not defend them lightly.  But I felt it necessary to use a separate post to explain why I believe that statement to be true.

First of all, since the words "fifth column" have not been in common usage for a while, I offer a definition from an admittedly humble but, at least in this case, reliable source:  Wikipedia. Basically, it refers to any organized effort to destroy a cause, or even a nation, from within. Ironically, during the 1940s and well into the 1960s, the term "fifth column" was enthusiastically used by conservatives in the United States to describe various segments of American society they didn't like--unions, students, actors, and so on.

You don't hear that from them so much any more.  Maybe that's because, by now, they have been exposed themselves as the ultimate fifth columnists.  Think about that for a second.  Nixon's undermining of negotiations to end the Vietnam War, on the eve of the 1968 election.  Watergate, the scandal that swallowed Nixon's subsequent Presidency.  Reagan's undermining of the return of the Iranian-held hostages, on the eve of the 1980 election.  The Iran-Contra scandal.  And, of course, Bush vs. Gore.  And these are only the highlights of Republican scandal over the past half-century.

Think we can call this a pattern?  I sure do.  Think we can all this breaking the law?  I sure do. Think this undermines the quality and character of our government, and even our civil society, as a consequence.  You bet whatever you want I do.  And you should, too, if you've got an ounce of what Americans used to pride themselves on having a lot of--common sense.

And it's never going to end unless we do something about it.  Take a look at two recent examples.

There can be no more basic function of government than ensuring public safety.  The Republicans have said so, over and over again, for decades and decades.  That's how they justify their military-first approach to foreign policy, and their law-and-order approach to domestic policy.  But, when it comes to deadly diseases, safety be damned--it's just an opportunity to negotiate away other forms of spending they don't like.  And, if public safety has to be held hostage so that they can play political games with Democrats and their supporters, so be it.  Even if that means ignoring one biological threat, Ebola, to do very little in fighting another threat, Zika.  Frankly, they don't care which one kills you first, as long as they can use it to pick up seats in the next election.

And then, there's the rule of law.  Remember the Clinton impeachment trial?  The one that was supposed to be all about the rule of law?  They took the position that perjury in a civil trial was in effect a high crime and misdemeanor against the people of the United States.  They effectively stopped the business of this country for two years, allowing its enemies more time to plot against us, over the constitutional equivalent of jaywalking.  Because nothing, nothing, was more important than the rule of law.

Except, of course, when you can bend the rule of law for your own purposes.  When, for example, a vote that would have advanced LGBT rights surprisingly goes against you, and you re-open the vote for a little last-minute arm-twisting, to get the result you want.  Because getting what you want is far more important than what the people of this country want and need.  Because, as far as you're really concerned, the rule of law isn't a principle, but a partisan club to be laid to rest when it gets in the way of what you want.

Criminal conspiracy, or fifth column?  I think they're both, but does it matter?  Either way, this wretched excuse for a political party belongs on the ash heap of history--after it's voted out of office. But that's up to you.

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