The difference between a Republican and a Democratic meeting is like the difference between a three-ring circus and a chamber music ensemble performance.
Remember when politics was totally boring? Back then, people were apathetic about politics because there was little perceived difference between Republicans and Democrats. It was like the politicians were speaking in an echo chamber. They put on a good show of arguing and fighting, but the politicos from both sides of “the aisle” ended up all saying and doing the same predictable thing—only louder because their governmental backup teams increased. Despite conservative Ronald Reagan’s famous rant against Democrats for favoring big government when he famously said, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Yeah, sure. During Reagan’s eight years in office, the size of the federal government more than doubled!
Politics back then was like the television commercial you see over and over and over again. The message might be cute and even interesting the first time you see it. But repeated ad nauseum, it becomes an irritant. And in the end, you simply tune it out.
It’s easy to understand why. Politicians invariably would promise change – “change you could believe in” – but nothing changed. And the unchanging promises and matching changeless results became a permanent part of the political landscape from which there was only an occasional reprieve. Watching politics was like watching an NBA basketball game: you don’t need to pay attention until the final two minutes of the game. It’s much the same in politics—except you only had to pay attention every two or four years. And then, no matter who won, the results were the same. Is it any wonder that after a while, people just tuned out politicians and politics?
A Brave New World of Politics
That’s not true today—and we can thank our lucky stars for the Republicans who have worked so hard to make politics interesting and entertaining, if not serious and meaningful. By contrast, the Democrats are their same old stodgy, boring selves; welded in lock-step conformity to the same tired story, with little intra-party squabbling. But you can’t say that about the Republicans whose performances would make fertile fodder for a reality sitcom titled, “Dysfunctional Family Run Amuck.”
The result? Republicans have made politics fun again! Sure, the fun might be macabre, like going to an NHL hockey game hoping to see a fight and being treated to a slug-fest among the players on the same team. But thanks to the Republicans rejuvenating interest in politics, the cable news networks can offer 80 percent (in the case of FOX News, 99 percent) of their content on politics, rather than the Kardashians, water-skiing squirrels or mutant pumpkins growing in Mississippi. And because of this politics is no longer only an election-year game.
Let’s Look at the Republican’s Record Winning Scorecard
Last fall the Republicans handily won the election and took control of Congress by chastising President Obama for his failure to pass legislation they had effectively blocked. The Republicans promised the voters that, if they were given full control of Congress, it would be a “new day.” They would use their majority power to show how Republicans can provide real leadership. How has it gone so far?
From the start of the new Congress the Republicans have done little except bicker and battle among themselves. On the first day of business, House Speaker John Boehner – who had led the Party to victory – was almost deposed by a revolt among fellow Republicans. Talk about giving inmates control of the asylum. Despite a large majority in the House and control of the Senate, the Republicans have exhibited functionally fractured leadership, because they have split up into different tribes that are more interested in fighting among themselves than doing anything positive. The Sunni and Shia in the Middle East have little on the Republicans when it comes to intramural fighting. The activity of the Republicans in Congress may not be constructive, but it certainly is entertaining. Contrast this with the boring sameness of the Democrats. The Democrats in Congress have lost ground in each of the last three elections, and yet there has been little threat to change leadership. Nancy Pelosi the House leader and Harry Reid the Democratic leader in the Senate continue on singing the same song, as if nothing has happened. How boring is that?
The Media in Cahoots with Republicans
Sometimes it’s hard not to suspect that the media is actually paying Republicans to fill a slow news day. Take last Wednesday for example: The Republicans had lost the battle to hold the funding for national security hostage, because they were enraged by President Obama’s executive order on immigration. Prime Minister Netanyahu had made his pilgrimage to Congress to hold hands with the Republicans, but he was gone.
It looked like it was going to be a slow news week, but then, right on cue, would-be Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson (Ben who?) stepped forward early in the morning to create a news cycle for the media. He claimed on CNN that being gay was a “choice.” His scientific evidence for this conclusion was that people go into jail “straight” but come out “gay.”
The next day climate change denier Republican Senator Jim Inhofe brought a snowball he had collected on the steps of the Capital into the Senate chamber and from the podium he threw it at the Democrats. It was the Republican way of scientifically proving that climate warming is a myth.
Folks you can’t make this stuff up! Only the Republicans seem to have this innate ability to constantly make things interesting in politics. Do you think it is some genetic structure that causes them to be this way or is it a choice they make? Perhaps they enter the Republican Party as reasonable and levelheaded thinkers, but later, influenced by others in the Party, they make a conscious choice to be wacko.
Just last week Republican governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker scored a double-bagger first by saying he didn’t know if Obama is a Christian and then by comparing the teachers’ union in Wisconsin to the terrorists ISIS. (It is true that the teachers did want to behead Scott, but still?) And just a week before that Rudy Giuliani, hungry for publicity – any publicity – in the Trump mode, accused President Obama of “not loving his country, because he was not raised to think like the rest of us.” (This from a guy who avoided service to the country he loves so much by wrangling two draft-deferments and then cajoling a federal judge to intercede on his behalf with the Draft Board to keep him out of the Army.)
The Republicans have been blessed with a long line of “intriguing” personalities and this has given them a virtual monopoly on making politics interesting. There is the dowager queen of the Republicans Sarah Palin, who proclaimed her expertise in foreign relations, because “she can see Russia from her home.” Michelle Bachmann was such a godsend to making politics interesting there are still web sites that trace her comments; such gems as, “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” (Just for the record, the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak she was referring to happened when Gerald Ford, a Republican, was president.) Are you keeping score? There’s still more.
Then there was Herman Cain who became a leading presidential candidate in 2012 with his famous “9-9-9” plan. Only later did we learn that 9-9-9 referred to the number of women he had been accused of harassing in the workplace. There was Christine O’Donnell, the former Republican candidate for the Senate in Delaware, who claimed in a campaign ad, “I am not a witch, I am you.” And who could forget the Republican Senate candidate from Missouri who famously claimed, “If it’s a legitimate rape the body has ways to shut the whole thing down.”
And of course, it would be unfair not to include one of the great luminaries of the modern Republican Party on this list – Donald Trump, who other than Mitt Romney is the only person I have ever seen eat pizza with a fork. This entrepreneurial head of such losers as Trump Airlines, Trump Mortgage, and Trump Casinos, perennially threatens to throw his hat into the presidential ring. My advice: Keep the hat and put a permanent lid on that mystery hairdo of yours. (What is that thing, anyway? It is a comb-over? A toupee? A transplant?) But at least give Trump credit for being a significant contributor to the Republican effort to keep politics interesting.
And what do the Democrats have to offer to counter all this political excitement generated by the Republicans? Well, by comparison, not much. But there is Vice-President Joe Biden. He certainly has the history and proclivity to make buffoonish comments. At the passage of Obamacare, for example, a microphone picked up him whispereing into Obama’s ear, “This is really a big ‘ffen’ deal.” But the Democrats have pretty much muffled him and we only see occasional pictures of him groping the wives of newly appointed cabinet officers. (In a recent survey 43 percent of the respondents could not name the vice-president, but 84 percent identified Sarah Palin as a Republican leader.)
Of course the Democrats do have Hillary Clinton. But how can anyone, even in their wildest imagination, claim that she makes politics fresh and exciting? Talk about a repeating commercial that gets old and irritating. Clearly Hillary is the face of the Democratic Party; boring same ol’ same ol’ stuff, emails and Whitewater notwithstanding.
No, the Republicans deserve and get all the credit for making politics interesting. Without a doubt, politics would be totally boring if it were not for the Republicans. Their antics are a political train wreck that entertains in an infinite loop; you simply can’t help but pull up a chair and want to watch. Even though it is a little like watching reruns of the”Family Feud” or the “Gong Show.”