Sunday, July 16, 2017


Where did we go so wrong?  For 200+ years Americans have admittedly done a fair amount of bickering among ourselves (our Civil War being the most dramatic example), but we somehow managed to get along well enough to keep us moving forward to become a land of freedom and opportunity for all (well, some more than others). 

But somewhere during the 1980's (?) things began to change.  We became less tolerant of anyone who disagreed with whatever we believed.  We became intensely polarized.  Today liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, have built a no-man's-land mine field between themselves.  Some of you who may be more politically knowledgeable than me might disagree, but as I recall it the one person who most personified this winner-take-all, take-no-prisoners brand of partisan politics was Rep Tom DeLay of Texas.

DeLay was the Republican House Whip.  He was the guy who "whipped" all his party members into voting exactly as the party leadership said, or else.  You crossed him at your own risk.

Our national leaders after WWII understood it was in our best interest to NOT totally humiliate our recently vanquished enemies.  We allowed the Emperor of Japan to maintain his title, and helped the Europeans rebuild via the Marshall Plan.  Unfortunately Tom DeLay missed history class the day that was discussed.  By the time he made it to a leadership position in Congress he had earned a reputation as the meanest SOB in town.  He was never interested in negotiating with the Democrats, but only in stomping them.  He wanted to steamroll them, kick 'em in the teeth, scalp them, and finally disembowel them and spit on their carcass.

Each party dug in their heels.  The hard-core "base" of each side refused to believe that their guys could ever do anything wrong, and that the other side could ever do anything right.  For 8 years Republicans were constantly at Bill Clinton's throat, and Democrats returned the favor by constantly sniping at Dubya Bush for his 8 years in office.  Each thought they had been wronged, and it was 100% the other parties fault.  They themselves were always right, regardless of the facts.  (Truth was there was plenty of blame to go around.)

We moved from the gutter into the sewer when Barack Obama was elected President.  The Senate Republican Leader, Mitch McConnell, openly admitted it was his goal in life to see to it that Obama was a one-term President.  Many even refused to believe Obama was American born.  Anything the Democrats proposed, the Republicans automatically opposed, sight unseen.  If any Republicans might have wanted to participate in the drafting of ObamaCare, their leadership took them aside and beat them senseless.  "NO COLLABORATING WITH THE ENEMY!"

Now the tables are reversed.  Republicans are proposing a replacement healthcare plan, and they wouldn't in a million years throw the Democrats a bone to get them to play ball.  If they should be offered a seat at the table, I'm sure the Democratic leadership would put any party defector before a firing squad.

And here we are in 2017.  Donald Trump is President, and his family and administration are under attack.  The smoke and stench of something going on between Russia and his administration, if not the President personally, is pretty powerful.  The Republican base refuses to even acknowledge anything smells, and the Democratic base is ready to start build gallows.  As Republicans and their media stooges (FOX News) see it, the crime is not that they did it, but that they got caught because someone leaked it to the other side's media stooges.  "HOW DARE THEY CATCH US!"

IMO we've pretty much hit bottom.  Today our choice is between the Party of Oil  and the Party of Water....they will never mix.  The best quote I've heard in months was this morning when a commentator on TV, a Republican, called Washington politicians "the lowest form of human life".  Too harsh?  I think not.

Oh, and Tom DeLay?  He was indicted and convicted for money laundering in 2011 and sentenced to 3 years in prison.  However, in 2013 his conviction was overturned by a highly partisan (surprise!) Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  

I'm honestly not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but just a realist.  Individually we're wonderful people, willing to work together to better our neighborhoods and communities and schools.  But the minute we put on a red hat or a blue hat, we turn into animals.  If civil discourse isn't actually yet dead, it's definitely on life support.  Hurts to hear, doesn't it?



  1. Another player who drove the wedge deeper was Newt Gingrich, who had an aggressive "take no prisoners" attitude.
    Congress typifies Newton's third law on steroids: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So long as strict partisans, or ignoramuses loyal only to the party, are elected nothing will change.
    Unfortunately Congress has gone so far over the cliff that the political system is broken by our own doing. Can it be saved?

  2. Term limits on Congress and Senate would go a long way in correcting this problem. 2nd stop line items from being attached to bills.
    The ACA is broken and will collapse soon. But if we are not going to single payer and getting insurance completely out of healthcare, then just look at the ACA and see what need to be fixed or tweaked and take care of those things. Just as a family or business would keep a machine running and not just throw it away and get another with different problems. There must be many families like us who think some issues on the left are valid and some issues on the right are valid. Just middle of the road people, like our elected officials should be. That is my two cents.

  3. I don't think our politics changed much in the 80s during the Reafan years. I blame our political polarization of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans. The impeached Bill Clinton on extremely flimsy grounds just because the could and set this political paralysis in motion. Interesting the=at Newt was cheating on his sick wife at the very time he was berating Clinton for his sexual encounter with Monica.

  4. The partisan divide owes largely to the consequences involved in losing the political initiative: when one party believes healthcare is a right and the other believes that losing hundreds of thousands of lives is an acceptable price for a tax cut benefiting the wealthy, the middle ground pretty much evaporates. That does not in any way imply equal blame. And yes, Trump is president. What on Earth became of the Last Best Hope, of that Great Republic?

  5. I can only shake my the heck do we get out of this hole we dug ourselves into?