I nearly killed my nephew, Scott, when he was about seven-years-old. I was 15 or so.
We were at Sunnen Lake near Potosi, Missouri. My dad worked at Sunnen Products, and the company provided Sunnen Lake as a free recreation spot for employees and retirees. (Pretty cool perk.)
The recreation complex was pretty rustic then. About ten cabins, a recreation hall with ping-pong and a huge fireplace. The big parking lot near the Rec Hall was covered with pea-size brown and tan gravel held in place by an eight-inch railroad tie wall. My mom and dad had already entered the Rec Hall. My friend Dan and I were walking with Scotty in the same direction.
Dan, Scotty, and I were about to cross the parking lot on our way to the Rec Hall. Scotty was four paces behind us, trying to keep up on his little legs. I told him to hurry. Scotty started running. He passed me as Dan and I stepped over the tie wall. Scotty jumped over it.
I flicked Scott’s right ankle with the baseball bat I carried. Just barely. I wasn’t trying to break his leg or anything. I just tapped him with the handle as he flew by. But it was enough of a tap to send him flying farther than he’d planned.
He landed on his belly about four feet beyond the wall, sliding through the loose gravel. Dan burst out in laughter. I did, too. I figured the slide would protect from injury, usually caused by the sudden stop. Unfortunately, some of the gravel actually penetrated his skin.
He came up bloody and screaming. Dan and I dropped out baseball gear and grabbed the little tyke. And the first words out of my mouth to calm the terrified child?
“Don’t tell Grandma and Grandpa!”
Republican Elitists Don’t Want Us To Tell On Them
I know a secret about the Republican Party that a lot of people want me to keep to myself. John Boehner’s assault on the grassroots groups that handed him the Speaker’s gavel unloosed my tongue.
In 2008, the GOP was flat on its back. Long-time Republicans were ready to throw in the towel. They’d lost Congress in a wave in 2006. Then they lost to the White House to a candidate four steps to the left of Lenin.
Why did they loose those two elections? You can blame Bush, if you want, but Bush wasn’t running Congress. The GOP establishment was. This quote comes from NY Times, November 12, 2008:
“Conservatives were silent when Republican Congressional leaders massively expanded government,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a longtime leader of the movement. “Going forward you are going to see conservatives look to themselves for leadership.”
(I wrote a 10-part plan for recovery on November 4, 2008, about which more in due course.)
As Wall Street burned and markets crashed, Republicans began “soul searching” for the second time in two years.
The GOP’s soul search found nothing.
The next February, with Congressional Republicans frightened and humbled, ordinary people took to the streets and the parks to stop bail-out madness. That February eruption caught fire and turned into a long, hot summer of demonstrations, protests, and rallies. Obama’s hopes of passing Obamacare before the August 2009 recess burned to the ground, and the Tea Party danced, prematurely, on its grave at the August Recess Rallies.
Then, Andrew Breitbart launched BigGovernment.com with the release of James O’Keefe’s damning ACORN Pimp and Hooker videos. We were in Quincy, Illinois, that weekend, with Breitbart, Mike Flynn, and others. It was surreal sitting in a booth at the bar inside the new Holiday Inn in Quincy, as Breitbart and Flynn sat feet away monitoring the aftershocks of O’Keefe’s videos playing out on the Sunday talk shows.
At that moment, we knew the Tea Party was a force. So we set out to save the Republicans from themselves.
We did. Sort of.
On election night 2008, I wrote a 10-part plan for conservative resurgence. Here’s the first point:
The conservative movement must forget the Republican party. If the GOP wants to come along with us, they’re welcome. But we won’t listen to their nonsense about “big tents” and “get over Reagan.“ The Republican party was an irresponsible steward of conservatism for the past 20 years. Tonight it got its just deserts. Too bad the rest of us have to endure re-education camps, economic depression, and malaise because of [the Republicans]. We’ll run as Republicans, but the morons who orchestrated this abortion better not even think about telling us how to do it.
In 2010, the Tea Party led the charge to take back Congress and state houses across the country. Over 800 legislative seats changed from blue to red that November. Nancy Pelosi lost her gavel to John Boehner.
I don’t remember if the GOP thanked the Tea Partiers for giving up their lives, taking their kids out of sports, and turning their happy, quiet private lives into public objects of ridicule. Maybe they did. I honestly don’t remember.
All I know is that, between November 7, 2010, and December 11, 2013, the Republicans retreated to their establishment, country club fallout shelters left over from the Eisenhower era.
In 2012, the establishment chose a “safe” candidate in Mitt Romney–architect of the model on which Obamacare was based. They ignored advice of David Schriberman, November 23, 2008:
Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts may try again, mostly because he can afford it and he can’t take his eyes off the prize, and so might former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, but I’m betting the next GOP nominee’s name won’t be preceded by the word “former.” The fact that many of you have never heard of Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana or Sen. John Thune of South Dakota might be the best thing they (and the Republicans) have going for them.
But the establishment knew better. They nominated Romney’s millions. And they lost worse than in 2008. Not because of a surge of enthusiasm for Barack Obama, but because about 5 million center-right voters stayed home.
So what’s that nasty secret my Republican friends don’t want me to say in public?
I think 2016 might be the Republican Party’s last national election.
I don’t have a ton of hard facts to rely on, but I do have the generational cycles of history to look to. We’re in a Crisis Turn right now. It began about 2007 or 2008. The catalyst was likely the fall of Lehman Brothers. It will last 15 to 20 years and culminate in a climax. Previous Crisis Turns ended with the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II.
During these Crisis turnings, society is remade. This is from Lifecourse Associates website:
Several years after the catalyst, society enters a regeneracy, a drawing together of the community in response to a worsening outlook and a growing determination to surmount the challenge. Thus regenerated, a society then propels toward a _climax_—a crucial moment that confirms the death of the old order and triumph of the new. The climax can end well, badly, or some combination of both. Either way, it shakes a society to its roots, transforms institutions, redirects social purposes, and marks people (and generations) for life. Eventually, the mood transforms into the exhaustion and relief of resolution, the moment when treaties are signed and celebrations are staged.
The Republican Party was remade in the Depression. Having formed to end slavery, the Republicans were the original corruptocrats from the late 19th century through Prohibition. Throughout the early 20th century, Democrats and Republicans shared a common view that government was the solution to all human problems. Herbert Hoover was Democrat who ran as a Republican to give himself a better chance of winning the White House. Hoover previously expanded government for the Wilson administration.
Senator Robert Taft of Ohio led the drive to turn the GOP into the party on the right in the 1940s and 1950s. Taft, assisted by William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, L. Brent Bozell, and other conservatives, fought the Republican establishment, pulling the GOP to the right. By 1964, grassroots conservatives amassed enough power to nominate Barry Goldwater. The next year, actor Ronald Reagan left the Democrats to join the Republicans.
During the post-WWII era, which began in 1946 and ended with the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the Republicans remained a party on the right. Though infused with establishment, pro-business types, the party recognized that its electoral strength lay in a precarious coalition of libertarians, defense hawks, and social conservatives–all Reagan voters. These factions held together because people had faith in the party.
But that coalition remained fragile. Faint hopes and small wins kept the grassroots going. Despite some differences on issues, the three conservative factions held a few common beliefs:
* Governments were created by people and have no powers that are not expressly delegated * Everyone in the government has a duty to manage public money and property in the interest of those who pay taxes * Government's first duty is to protect its citizens from foreign attack and domestic crime * When a government exercise powers that we never delegated, we have the right and the duty to rebuke or dissolve the abusive government
Those four simple beliefs inspired thousands of people in 50 cities to stage a one-day protest against government abuse of power on February 27, 2009. That protest turned into the Tea Party movement. That movement upset the House of Representatives in 2010, among many other electoral changes.
Unfortunately, the party that benefited most from us tea partiers has chosen to sacrifice its grassroots benefactors on the altar of Big Business. Because of that, the GOP looks like the walking dead.
But I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.
Photo by Shane McGraw, some rights reserved. Reproduced under Creative Commons license.