I watched Rachel Maddow’s interview with Obama the other day. She asked him why he attacked the policies of George Bush and John McCain specifically but not the Republican Party in general. His answer was that he didn’t want to alienate moderate Republicans by attacking their party. He didn’t want it to be politics as usual. This was a smart tactic and it’ll probably pay off on Tuesday. I, however, am not Barack Obama and I don’t need to play nice.
To be clear I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I vote for the Democrats most of the time because they are closer to my views, but both parties have their problems. I used to feel there was very little difference between them honestly. When Bush “won” the election in 2000, Nicole was really upset. I said, “How much damage could he really do in 4 years?”
It turns out he and his administration did an unbelievable amount of damage during his two terms in office. And it was the continued support of the Republican Party that let him do so, particularly for the first 6 years when they controlled all branches of government. Let’s quickly reviews the accomplishments of the Republican leadership for the past 8 years.
* The attacks on 9/11 happened because of a spectacular intelligence failure. The Republicans have used 9/11 to good effect to pursue their own agenda, but we should never forget that the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor happened on their watch.
* American invaded two countries, both of which have become military quagmires. American casualty figures are well known, but much less publicized is the cost in Iraqi and Afghani lives. It is estimated that at least 600,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the US invasion and the subsequent civil war. Imagine if every single citizen in Seattle was murdered and you get the idea.
* The Republican leadership lied to the American people and the world to justify the war in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction there and Saddam Hussein was not an imminent threat to the USA.
* Despite all the rhetoric, America is less safe than it was 8 years ago. Our military has been run ragged and is stretched too thin. The invasion of Iraq only served to radicalize more people and was a positive boon to Al Queda recruitment.
* America, which once tried to “make the world safe for democracy,” began torturing prisoners, despite the known inefficacy of such techniques. Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib are but the most publicized examples of America’s shame.
* While the infrastructure of America is literally falling apart (remember the Minneapolis bridge?) and the education system declines, there have been never ending tax cuts. During two wars no less. Most of these tax cuts have served the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations.
* Bush and particularly Cheney made a mockery of Constitution. Their ideas of executive privilege were of dubious legality and ran counter to the foundations of American democracy. There are three branches of government for a reason and a president can’t hide behind executive privilege as if he was a monarch. See the American Revolution.
* The Department of Justice was politicized to a noxious degree. This led to political cronyism of the worst kind, as typified by Alberto Gonsalez, and of course the US attorney firings scandal.
* With so much of the National Guard serving oversees, the reaction to the Hurricane Katrina disaster was shameful. A major American city was nearly wiped off the map and the government stood by while it happened. When the response did come, it was slow, inept, and wasteful.
* Environmental regulations have been loosened and the Kyoto Protocols have not been ratified. Science itself has been assaulted by religious fundamentalism.
* As part of the overall Republican plan of making the rich richer and the poor poorer, the profits of capitalism have become increasingly privatized while its losses have become socialized. The total faith in the free market and the frenzy of deregulation led us to the current financial crisis, which was totally predictable. Now we have these financial giants who are “too big to fail”, so they get government handouts with few strings attached.
This is what 8 years of Republican leadership have gotten America and if you vote for John McCain on Tuesday, you are giving the Republican Party a pass for its malfeasance, its ineptness, and its failed policies. That is why it is not enough for Barack Obama to win this election. Republicans on every level of government need to be hounded out of office. They need to pay a political price for what they have done to this country and to others. They need to spend 10 or 20 years in the wilderness, taking a good hard look at their party. When they own up to their mistakes, repudiate Neo-Conservatism, and stop kowtowing to the fundamentalist wingnuts a la Palin, then maybe they can be allowed near the machinery of power again.
Now you might say that John McCain is a maverick and he wouldn’t be like Bush. I have two things to say to that. First, he’s not that much of a maverick, seeing as how he voted with Bush most of the time. Second, even if he was a big maverick, it doesn’t matter. John McCain wouldn’t be running the country alone; he’d be doing it with the leadership of his party. The same party that got us into this mess in the first place. It’s funny how McCain goes on and on about the troubles of America, but never admits that they are of the making of his own party.
This week remember that it’s not just about Obama (though it is nice to have someone I can vote for without holding my nose). This is about utterly crushing the Republican Party, savaging them so badly that they have no choice but to reevaluate their basic tenets. So do your part to vote down Republicans running for the Senate, for the House, for governor, for mayor, for judges, and on and on. Let this be the Great Rout of ’08 and may it lead to a better tomorrow for America and the world.
So say we all.