By Jason Taylor
In 1994 when the Republicans won control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1954 and Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker, I personally believe this was the beginning of the extreme far-right. Under Gingrich, House Republicans threw all decorum out the window maintained by Democrats over the previous 40 years and became the first openly partisan speaker.
Gingrich’s legacy continued to live on even during the four years from 2006 to 2010 when the Democrats controlled the House. I would say it was the Republicans who threw the first barbs at Democrats and some of them returned it back. I think this is the first time I can recall that someone on the left resorted to violence as that is usually a right-wing trait. However, I knew it was just a matter of time until the left would become as violent as the right.
You can track the growing distrust between believers of one party and the other from the birth of FOX network and its distorted presentation of factual information. I always knew that FOX was founded by Republican political operatives, but I was unaware that it was a direct response to Nixon’s wish that there was a media outlet that would present just the facts that would protect him from public knowledge of his misdeeds.
Unsubstantiated lies and innuendo have proven a toxic brew because of the presentation of “alternative facts” continues to sow the seeds of distrust and project a sense that political opponents are liars. The involvement of Russia and its cooperation (whether intentional or coincidental) with FOX, and the unwitting propagation of Fake News, otherwise known as propaganda, by social media have magnified the selective difference in perceived reality and driven people to a profound distrust of the other side.
How can there not be a serious divide when one party seeks to discredit a President for 8 years and vows to obstruct everything? How can there not be a serious divide when one party no longer values the Constitution and has put party and politics above country?
The sad truth is the Republican party has moved further to the right than the Democrat party in the last few decades. This might be account for its tendency to publish various canards including the one that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or the publication of a photo shopped image of Mr. Obama wearing a bone through his nose or the various comparisons of Mr. Obama to an ape.
There are Republican leaders calling for “second amendment” remedies including the current president. There was also the call to “lock her up” during the Republican National Convention and a threat from candidate Trump at the RNC (or was it a debate) to initiate an investigation into various Clinton matters as soon as he took office. Funny how that last one is working out.
When the Republicans started going after the Clintons in the 1990’s, that’s when things really started to change. Then came the declaration of “The Republican Revolution” by Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich, both of which heralded a start of poisoned politics in Congress which spread throughout the population courtesy of the mass media and television.
From then on, the competition between the parties became insurmountable with both sides passing and repealing legislation. The latest being the victimization of many millions of Americans who now depend on health care. The most grievous Republican rabble rousing have been during the Trump campaign in which he cultivated a culture of hatred and anger to win. The Republicans have been picking a fight since 1995 led by the gadfly Gingrich now being grown by Trump and a mad-with-power Congress. The Democrats have been outspoken but largely ladies and gentlemen about all this vitriol. They are the adults while the Republicans have behaved like spoiled children.
Both sides didn’t contribute equally to the decay of the discourse. The Democrats have never undertaken programs of othering the opposition and power consolidation like W. or Trump or taken the extremes of racist, anti-Muslim ideology to the Oval Office itself.
Maybe it’s because Republicans actually are a threat – to Mexicans, to Muslims, to women, to black people, and to those who disagree with them. Let’s ask Jeremy Christian how he feels about that.
As far as the man who shot Scalise – perhaps Republicans would do well to review the last decade of rhetoric about “Second Amendment remedies” and tyranny.
It is amazing to me how people don’t fully appreciate the role of right wing media in causing the current state of divisions. The Fairness Doctrine repealed by Reagan was critical in jumpstarting the onslaught. Now lies are considered a fair argument, and winning the argument is the goal, not adherence to objective reality.
And who has driven that path? We need to have an honest conversation in this country about that. The Republicans have seen their ideas wane and are not made to help working people…so they make a deal with the devil and use lies, propaganda and racism to hold on to their piece of power. America needs to go forward not in reverse.
Molly Ivins, that great thinker and journalist, once wrote that we will never have a true democracy or a Congress that represents us until we make all elections publicly funded and stop all corporate and uber wealthy donations — just like Europe.
You notice how European citizens are not constantly faced with the threat of impoverishment over health care, how Europeans manage to create university and apprentice training programs, and how Europeans can retire without the threat of poverty and lack of healthcare. Could it be because their governments actually have to represent them because their politicians are not serving two masters — the good of the people and the good of corporations? Molly Ivins was right.