After every election, win or lose, Democrats are always lectured by the media to reach across the aisle. That's right: Democrats. It just seems to be expected that the relative position of the two parties in American democracy are always supposed to be the same: the Republicans hold the football, and the Democrats try to kick it. And, whether you're a regular student of the comic strip "Peanuts" or of American politics, you know what happens next. Democrats end up flat on their backs, Republicans get to keep the football--and who knows what else.
This double standard sadly reflects the winning team-losing team perspective that now dominates what masquerades for political coverage in what's left of the mainstream media. Once upon a time (and in my lifetime), politics was as much a discussion of ideas as of the people who made it their career and the people who were being served. Sadly, since the Reagan years, and with the concurrent consolidation of media outlets by corporate conglomerates, all of that has changed. News has become a commodity to be sold to the largest possible number of buyers.
As a consequence, news is now subject to a motto inaccurately attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but which is one of my favorites (it's on a sign in my office): "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss things, small minds discuss other people." The reality is that their are more average minds than great ones, and probably more small minds than average ones. In the lowest common denominator world of mass sales, media is thus sold as coverage of people--even political media. It goes a long way toward explaining how we ended up with a President who has no experience governing even so much as a stop light. It definitely explains the ease with which Republicans sell the idea that what's theirs is theirs, and everything else is negotiable. They know how to sell. It's really all they know, but they know it very well.
For the sake of discussion, however, if not fairness, let's suspend the rules of reality and pretend that a world in which Democrats always ask "How high?" every time the Republicans scream "Jump!" is really the way things ought to be. And, in this world, Democrats are always obliged to compromise with the other side, even in years where they have prevailed in elections.
My question is this.
Why should they?
Quite apart from the rancidness of their ideas, and with a handful of notable exceptions, today's Republican Party is nothing more than a rotting collection of rotten scumbags.
Does that sound excessively mean? Well, I won't insist on it. Judge for yourself.
In the White House, as Donald Trump's principal adviser, we have Steve Bannon, formerly of the alternative-facts, white-nationalist Web site Breitbart. That alone should disqualify him from his present position. However, just in case it's not enough for you, you may want to ponder this: Bannon is an advocate for what surely must be the single most racist book ever published and sold in general circulation. I am speaking of "The Camp of the Saints," a vile, consciously racist, virtually pornographic book written in the 1970s by a French author, who I shall not name (I don't like the idea of giving him any more publicity than is absolutely necessary). You can, in any case, read more about it in absolutely excruciating detail here. It's enough to say it's about an "invasion" of the West by Indians. Trust me: it goes downhill from that sentence very quickly.
Never mind, for the moment, the obvious question of why a man who advocates such garbage is given a place in the White House. Here's the real question, relative to our current thesis: how do you find common ground with someone who thinks this way? If you are even close to being a decent human being, you don't. You shun that person every chance you get.
And the same goes for two other real prizes. One of them is named Tom Cotton. He is a U.S. Senator from Arkansas (which speaks poorly of Arkansas). In the final years of the Obama Administration, he was one of the instigators of a full-page newspaper ad inviting the Iranian Government to violate the nuclear agreement with Iran that had recently been negotiated (and endorsed by Israeli security experts). Bad enough, right? Well, just in case it's not, here's something else: Cotton held up the confirmation of one of Obama's diplomatic nominees, a friend of the then-President's from law school, because Cotton knew that doing so would cause Obama "special pain" (the senator's words, as spoken directly to the nominee when she ask him what the reason for the hold-up was). She died later, never having had a chance to have her nomination considered. Again, I'm not making this up.
Oh, and let's not forget the members of the media echo chamber that enable the scumbags in government; they can match them scum for scum.
Once upon a time, thanks to Marconi and others, radio became a great resource for spreading culture and news around the world. In the Internet age, however, radio has largely become the medium of choice for right-wing gasbags. And none are gassier than Mark Levin, who has a nightly three-hour radio show in which he spews venom that he either makes up on the spot or plans in advance (it's hard to tell, and that's after subjecting myself several times on long drives). Levin and his ilk are like Biff Barnes, a sportscaster made up by George Carlin for one of his routines: "I call 'em as I see 'em, and if I don't see 'em, I make 'em up!" If that's not bad enough, in order to spread the lie that Obama personally wiretapped Trump, he goes so far as to use Helen Keller as a punching bag.
And I'm supposed to sit down with this guy and reason together? With any of them? Give me a break.
That's my tale of three scumbags. Sadly, there are many more: a party, and now a government, that's chock-full of them. And, as long as that's the case, they can wait until hell freezes over before I try to reason with any of them. I'm going to fight like hell to put them out of business.
And, if you believe in what this nation is supposed to be, you'll do the same.