(RJ Matson, 10-26-2010)
I'm sorry to say that I see this as fantasy, too. For almost two years, Barack Obama has bent over backward trying to work with Republicans. But you can't compromise with people who see compromise as treason.
There may still be rational Republicans, I don't know. But if there are, they're running scared of the extremists who've taken control of the party. The GOP tried to use fundamentalist Christians just as they had southern white racists. But their wooing of the latter drove out moderates, and the religious right grabbed control. Now the Tea Party - which is pretty much the same people, only with a different battle cry - has completed the extremist putsch.
Now, the combination of ignorance, bigotry, and culture war mentality makes it impossible for Republicans to work with a black man they've labeled a socialist, a Kenyan, and a Muslim. If you take their rhetoric as reality, how could you compromise with a man - with a whole party - bent on destroying America? The lies of Fox "News" are great for pumping up the base, but disastrous for trying to help govern our nation.
I don't feel any sympathy for Republican politicians, but they are trapped by their past actions. There's not much they can do to calm the monster they've created, so even if some of them haven't completely lost their minds, they still can't work with the president, or with any Democrat, not without being crucified by their own base. If you compromise, you're labeled a "moderate," which is the kiss of death in today's GOP. (Of course, there's plenty they could do, but not without giving up their political ambitions.)
All that has been obvious for some time now, don't you think? So when will it sink in at the White House? I know that Obama campaigned on bipartisanship, on bringing civility and compromise back into our political system, but it's simply not working. And meanwhile, he's failing to rally his own base. The president has the world's biggest bully pulpit, but he hasn't been using it to lead. In fact, he seems to have expected Congress to lead the country, which is beyond bizarre.
And when the Democrats lose the House of Representatives next week, it will be all over. After that, we'll see nothing but a politically-inspired witch hunt in the House. Republicans say it themselves. They're determined that Barack Obama will be a one-term president, no matter what it takes.
I'm absolutely astonished that the American people seem to be going along with this. Ignorance, cowardice, or gullibility, I don't know how to explain it. Yes, I was astonished when we re-elected George W. Bush in 2004, even after we saw what a disaster he was for America. But this is even worse. What has happened to us?
Extremists are normally punished at the ballot box. That's what tends to keep our political parties somewhere near the political center. But these days, the Democratic Party has the center all to itself. The Republican Party keeps getting more and more extreme without paying any political price at all. This is our fault. If we the people are dumb enough to let this happen, we can't blame anyone else.
I know there are still a lot of rational Americans, but where are they? I really hope Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity tomorrow will get them off their butts. Because right now, it's the loonies - and the gullible, scared elderly - who plan to vote on Tuesday. If rational Americans can't be bothered to get off the couch, America is going to be in big, big trouble.
And we won't have anyone to blame but ourselves.