Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NewtWorld: Betraying the Rot of Republicanism

We cannot rest. We cannot sit on our laurels.

Today we get a perfect chance to see everything that is wrong with Republican values, and why there can be no rest for Democrats and Progressives in our struggle move our country forward and pull it out of the morass that the GOP has put it into. It is so easy to focus on the evils of Bush, Cheney and the NeoConservatives, and to believe that we will be able to rest easier once they are gone and discredited. It is so easy for pundits liberal and conservative to believe that the GOP's problem was simply that they had gotten comfortable with power, and that the corruption and the failed Occupation of Iraq did them in. It is so easy to close our eyes as Americans both liberal and conservative, and hope that the Republicans "regain their sanity" and "put the adults back in charge."

But it's just not so. Everything about them is deadly to our democracy and our future. The Republican Party hasn't been sane since Eisenhower--and we cannot rest until the ideology of not only Bush, but of Newt, Reagan and Nixon are thoroughly discredited and rejected. Everything depends on it.

In the aftermath of the Republican election debacle, Conservatives of all stripes got together to look at what went wrong. While the voices were bound to be strident and at odds in any such debate, the Republican consensus has generally been that of Dick Armey: Return to the roots of Reagan--and especially Gingrich. "Put the adults back in charge, they say." "Bring back the sensible folks." "Return to our conservative roots!"

Well, here's what that "sensible adult" had to say yesterday:

MANCHESTER – Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.

Yes--in order to meet the permanent, all-purpose, never-ending threat of "terrorism" (and let's be honest: that threat will never go away completely), we will have to curb the most basic freedoms granted to us at the very beginning of the bill of rights 217 years ago. If this is returning to the roots of "Conservatism", I would really like to know what Gingrich thinks he's conserving--because the Bill of Rights obviously isn't on his list.

It gets worse, of course: he wants to regulate it specifically on the Internet to control bad "messages."

Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

"We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade," said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP's takeover of Congress in 1994.

To "get out their message"? And how would Newt define the message? Would it include any message that purports to say bad things about America? Because I know some diarists who would doubtless fall into Newt's proposed net of censorship.

But that's just the Republican authoritarianism we've all come to know and love coming through. The truly repulsive part--the part that betrays the Republican character more thoroughly than anything I've seen recently--is what follows immediately afterward:

Gingrich sharply criticized campaign finance laws he charged were reducing free speech and doing little to fight attack advertising. He also said court rulings over separation of church and state have hurt citizens' ability to express themselves and their faith.

So let's be very clear about something: In the NewtWorld that "sane" Republicans want to reject Bush to return to, it's not just "Free Speech for Me, but Not for Thee." It's worse: Only money--and the allies of money--are worthy of free speech protections to the Republican mind. The "sane" Republican mind. The "adult" Republican mind. The Republican mind that all these conservatives want to return to.

All other speech gets the authoritarian boot--relegated off the Internet to "free speech zones", (and then presumably quietly shipped off to Guantanamo once nobody misses it anymore). Meanwhile, these "conservative adults" will do us the favor of "re-examining" that "Freedom of Religion" bit in the First Amendment, and declaring that it means shoving their version of morality down all of our throats.

And what of that famous "Contract with America" whose roots they supposedly want to return to? The one that supposedly won them the big elections in 1994, giving them a 12-year majority? Let's look at the first bullet point:

FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress

Except when it comes to unimportant things like Free Speech. In that case, the people can go to hell (oops, better capitalize that or those new "morality censors" will get me) Hell, but corporate intere$t$ will get to have their $ay with a$ much free $peech as they like. When John Edwards talks about Two Americas, this is exactly what he means--and he's right.

Because, of course, they don't mean what they say. They never have, and never will. And they haven't changed one bit. Which leads me to the second point of Newt's famous Contract:

SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse

Ironically, Newt is right. An cleansing audit of waste, fraud and abuse is exactly what we need.

Republican ideology has been an utter waste of the people's time, money and goodwill ever since Nixon.

Republican ideology has been at utter fraud, failing to accomplish anything productive for the American people, while spending all their hard-earned money and surpluses.

And Republican ideology has been a severe abuse of everything the American People are proud to stand for: our Constitution, or Way of Life, and our precious Freedoms.

The rot goes all the way to the core. It will not stop when Bush leaves office. It will not stop when the most corrupt Republicans are out of Congress. It will not stop even when/if Democrats hold all three branches of government. It's an entire ideology of waste, fraud and abuse that must not be allowed to rear its head again in our lifetimes.

Our very freedoms depend on it.


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