Saturday, February 14, 2009

The hateful fetish of Republican unity

The fetish of unity in the Republican Party has not only made bipartisanship impossible. It has made partisanship a religion. Not the kind of religion that leads people to tend the sick and feed the hungry, but the kind of religion that leads people to slay their enemies and convert their children.

That religion led one side in the stimulus voting. When the votes are eventually counted on the stimulus bill, I wonder if history will record who voted, or if it will judge the United States Senate on who had to vote.

There were 61 votes among current United States senators, the supermajority necessary to overcome the threat of a filibuster in this body of arcane rules where they call each other gentlemen and proceed with extreme courtesy.

Thirty-eight Republican members of that body knew they would lose the stimulus vote. The only question was how they would lose. Would they force one of their most senior members, Ted Kennedy, a senator serving with his tenth president, to leave his sickbed, perhaps his deathbed, to cast the deciding vote? Or would they force a more junior member, Sharod Brown, to abandon the ceremonies of his mother's burial to come to the Capitol and vote?

Of course the choice did not lie with the Republicans, with the losers on this cusp of history, but rather with Kennedy and with Brown. Would one of them pull away from the customs of life for the rituals of the Senate?

Brown did. History will record that he left a memorial for his mother, got on a plane, flew to the capital, voted, and flew back for her burial, losing those hours when he might have relaxed, might have spent time with family, might have grieved. Instead, he did his duty, knowing it is what his mother would have wanted him to do.

Had I been one of those thirty-eight who can give so little, I know what my mother would have told me to do. A vote by any one of those people could have saved Brown the trip. Mitch McConnell, who helped schedule the vote when it was so that he could leave on time for vacation, could have said to Brown, "I've got a safe seat; I'll change my vote as a courtesy." John McCain, claiming a sense of honor he often forgot when he ran for President, could have said, "I can cast a vote for this and save you the trip and my reputation will be intact. Decent people will understand why I did it." Judd Gregg, erstwhile Commerce nominee, could have acknowledged that constancy is not his long suit, and changed his vote to let Brown mourn at home instead of in planes and cars and a five-minute trip to the Capitol.

The whole Republican Party, for that matter, could have declined to filibuster, and said the supporters of the plan had the votes, and that the simple human decency of letting a man bury his mother was more important than procedural wrangling. But not more important, apparently, than their leader's travel plans.

On a Friday in June of 2002, when I had three votes for mayor and two against me, my grandmother died. She was 93. My mother was exhausted from standing vigil for a week. My family was gathering in Southwest Virginia. While schedules and arrangements were discussed, there was a chance that I would have to be at my grandmother's funeral instead of at the City Council meeting where I was expected to be named mayor.

I spoke to three people about speaking to the two who planned to vote against me. I pointed out that we had the votes, but that I would have to be at my grandmother's grave. Word came back through reluctant intermediaries. Maybe something could be worked out. What was I willing to concede?

But the day turned on the health of an aging aunt with paper-thin skin and twig-like bones, who often looked with faraway eyes at the open graves of those she'd grown up with or raised. She would be there on Sunday, and so the funeral would have to be then, and I could drive back to Harrisonburg for the City Council meeting on Monday. Except for the deep resentment that I will carry to my own grave, the question of whether my grandmother's funeral would keep me from becoming mayor was settled.

History should hold this against the Republican Party, the party of supposed family values. Many of those members have traded a vote for a dam in their state, or a museum, or a bridge. Many of them have juggled and negotiated over trivia and minutiae, and will again. But there was apparently no room in their rules or in their hearts for a mother's funeral.

Someone in that party where people of deep principle stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fetid finger-pointers, is someone who will step forward to complain of the cost of the plane that flew Senator Brown to Washington for this vote. That will be the final proof in this party of exaggerated cynicism that some know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

14 comments:

John Doe said...

JFG you ignoramous. You see partisanship in the Republicans because you are ultra-partisan yourself. Instead of castigating the Republicans for not being bi-partisan, why not castigate your own party? The DEMS were the ones who did not allow the Pubs to add or subtract ANYTHING from the bill in the House. ZERO chance of input does not equal bipartisanship on the part of the Dems. So, they want to control the writing of the bill, then they can and should expect no Republican support.

As to the Republicans "forcing" that dimwit from Ohio to return from his home state for the vote, again, look at your own party as the cause of that. They didn't need to force such an early vote, before all the legislators had read the bill. Oh, YES THEY DID! They didn't want the public to know the trash that was in it. And Pelosi had to run off to Europe on a vacation. Screw him and all the Dems. And screw you you idiot.

Anonymous said...

Poor, poor Joe. He gets the massive spending he wants but still finds an opportunity to be a partisan. Yeah, its a damn shame the guy had to fly back to vote, isn't it? Boo freakin hoo. Adn I don't hear any complaints about the Dems ramming it through the house so Pelosi could fly off on a taxpayer-funded junket to Italy.

An honest American said...

Yep...AND no one here bitched when the DEMS walked out for break with a huge energy problem lying in wait...but lets bitch slap the Republicans...what a crock...maybe Jeremy could use this on his good site!

Bubby said...

"I'm happy to get good ideas from across the political spectrum, from Democrats and Republicans. What I won't do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested, and they have failed."
President Barack Obama, 2/13/09

John Doe said...

Obama's version of bipartisanship is smiling at you while you do what he wants.

Rockdem said...

The current Republican version of bipartisanship is, well, hmmm...

Oh yes that's right, there isn't one...

John Doe said...

Give me a break. AS IF Dems are bipartisan. Just get off this bipartisan crap anyway. You willing to give up on your beliefs to be bipartisan? Ok let's try it: give up on abortion on demand, queer marriages, higher taxes, throwing more money at failing schools, banning prayer from schools. Come on, bitch, let's get "bipartisan!"

Anonymous said...

RockDem is bipartisan...according to the header this site is full of independent free thinkers. Just ignore the Democrat propaganda and this ridiculous 'they didn't care about his dead mother so they're partisan a-holes' post, and its all about working together! HAHAHAHA

Rockdem said...

Thank you John, for perfectly illustrating and driving home my point.

Now if you'd like to work together on solutions to those issues, we're more than happy to do so, if however you only wish to roll around on the floor throwing a tantrum then we don't have time for such unproductive interaction.

We'll just go ahead with the program of improvement. With you, or without you, your choice...

Rockdem said...

Anon at 3:37,

Yep, free and independent thought, not something a ditto head would be able to comprehend...

But have fun letting others do your thinking for you. It suits you well...

John Doe said...

Yeah, Lowell, the "Democrat Way" to bipartisanship is to bow down and let the Dems win. Bipartisanship is just an old canard they throw out there when they don't have the numbers to pass their legislation, or, as with the Porkulus Plan they want political cover. They allowed the Pubs zero input, so they got almost zero support. If giving Pubs ZERO input is your idea of "bipartisanship" then I ain't buying it. Instead of bitching about the Pub's lack of bipartisanship you should direct your ire at the Dem leadership.

Rockdem said...

Keep going John, you're doing a fine job.

For those watching:
This is a phenomenon often referred to as "projection" wherein someone projects his or her fears/inhibitions/prejudices/tendencies and thought processes upon those who he or she views as opponents or adversaries.

What takes place is that someone will accuse another person, or group of people, of having the same intent, motivation and methodology which the individual actually harbors within him or herself, and puts to practice...

In other words, someone who expects from others, that which they do... Kind of a sideways interpretation of the Golden Rule.

Virginia Conservative said...

It seems to me that whichever party is power seeks bipartisanship so that whatever legislation they present will be viewed as “mainstream”. Bipartisanship itself is a fairly worthless concept. As shown by the recent bailout vote, one can find a couple of liberal Republicans who will support increased government spending. Does this mean that the rest of us should all rally behind the plan? Certainly not!

I am convinced that this and every bailout is a bad idea. It forces taxpayers to pay for the poor business decisions of others. As you point out, it is true that some Republicans are rich with corruption and efforts to “bring home the bacon” and they should be held accountable. However, more spending is not the answer to our problems.

As to your thoughts of vote switching, the whole idea is quite absurd. Should one abandon his or her principles as not to inconvenience others? If one of my elected representatives, who I otherwise supported, did as you suggest, I would call for that leader’s resignation.

Bubby said...

Should it surprise anyone that the people who have celebrated unregulated "free-markets" and "trickle down" economic theory would now find themselves clueless as to what has happened to our economy, or how to rescue it? They still don't understand the Great Depression or how our economic slide was reversed. They mock the budget surpluses that Bill Clinton left Bush, and insist that it was really a recession. Is it any wonder that America has rejected conservative ideology?


For all their yip-yap about lower taxes, every Republican congressman just voted against the biggest middle-class tax cut in American history! Yet in complicity, or dumb obedience the Republican faithful have cheered as over $2 trillion in tax breaks have been given to the most wealthy of Americans, while our national debt as doubled. Our middle class, America's strength, have seen their wages and wealth diminished.

Is it any wonder that the Republican Party now finds itself rejected? Should I care, should America care that these failed ideologues find themselves shut out? No. Clean your house Republicans, and build a worthy opposition party...or fold the tent and make room for the next best thing.