I usually don’t begin my political blogging in earnest until the actual conventions, but man — I feel like I have to get something off my chest.

Donald Trump is calling for closing the borders to Muslims, period, based on a stew of fear-mongering, paranoia, and real-time clickbait. The cheers of his crowds (I hesitated slightly, nearly calling them “mobs”) grow louder and more forceful as his rhetoric ratchets ever higher. He’s called for cataloging citizens in a database, spying on them, informing on them, and now barring them from the country. Seriously, he has only two more rungs on this ladder — round them up; exterminate them — and the first primary vote hasn’t even been cast yet.


Then there’s Ted Cruz, rising rapidly in the polls. When President Obama had the temerity to talk to the American people like adults, counseling calm and rational thinking in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, Cruz said this:

As if the only thing standing between us and the end of ISIS has been someone willing to say, “Get rid of ISIS.” As if the President of the United States is a mafia godfather who can have an entire organization and socio-religious philosophy whacked in an alleyway. This is a very special combination of intellectual dishonesty and utter cluelessness.

Other GOP candidates offered similarly useless and idiotic rejoinders to the President, all long on attitude and snark and smug self-satisfaction, short on facts and knowledge and actual details.

Where the hell did this collection of feckless thugs come from? Where the hell did they get their oversimplified platitudes and ignorant bigotries?

I speak not as a foe of the Republican Party. I’m not a registered Democrat, after all. I registered as an Independent when I could first vote (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) because I recognized good people and smart ideas in both of the major parties.1 At the time, given that each side seemed to have something to offer, it seemed absurd to pledge fidelity to one and lose the ease of borrowing from both.

Today, the Democratic Party is still largely similar to the one I knew at eighteen. But the Republican Party has metamorphosed into a monstrous chimera of hate, bigotry, and abject ignorance. Facts mean nothing when blasted with the force of sheer rage and fear. And policies on important issues are reduced to macho posturing, meaningless slogans, and double-talk.

The result is nonsense like making certain terrorists on American soil have ready access to firearms and risible codswallop like Cruz’s inane comment about ISIS.

This proclivity toward policy via road rage and governance by temper tantrum in today’s GOP is a grievous insult to the many fine Republicans of decades past who served their country with honor.

What in the hell is wrong with these people?

If they truly believe what they’re spewing, that’s horrifying enough. If it’s just a way to game the beleaguered and easily gulled, that’s even worse — it means today’s GOP is willing to drag the country into a sucking mud pit, so long as they can rule the swamp.

It’s nauseating. It’s grotesque. It’s a vicious kick in the gut to the ghosts of the party, proud Americans who at least gave a damn and tried.

I don’t know how any of them can look in a mirror. And the voting has yet to begin — it’s only going to get worse.

  1. And also because — like our Founders — I dislike the idea of political parties in general.


  1. Kelly Ramsdell says:

    Thank you for saying cogently what I’ve only been able to rage about somewhat incoherently at home.

  2. Angela C. Phillips-Mills says:

    Barry, you know the answer to this question.

    First, George W. Bush (and perhaps to a greater extent Sarah Palin) gave low-information, FOX NEWS-addicted voters permission to believe that politicians don’t have to be all that smart to be President. Second, while the Tea Party began as a protest against the financial bailouts of 2008-09, alongside that, was an unmistakable element of virulent racial animus toward the then newly-elected African-American President that will likely continue at least until he leaves office. Republicans ceased on the popularity of the Tea Party to regain the House majority in 2010. Third and finally, consider the year 2040. According to the United States Census Bureau, that is the year the United States will become a majority minority country. Nothing frightens a waning ethnic majority more than an impending demographic shift.

    The RNC has known at least since after the 2012 election that in order to contend for the Presidency, it needs to do more to attract minority and women voters. Has it done anything approaching that? No. Not when it’s easier to recruit and run candidates who play on the Republican electorate’s misconceptions and worst fears.

    These elements are some of the reasons why the Republican Party finds itself where it is. Makes one long for the days of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp. I rarely agreed with them, but I knew that the politicians who I supported had willing partners with whom to work to solve the nation’s problems.

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