My late father was a conservative Republican. He was neither a crazy conservative nor “severely conservative” in Willard Mittbot Romney’s memorable formulation. He was a classic business conservative who hated red tape, supported a strong defense, disliked Communism, but also favored Social Security and Medicare. His father came to America alone at the age of 13. My namesake wanted to pull himself up by his bootstraps, so he joined what he thought of as the businessman’s party, the GOP.
Lou and I had many political arguments, but they were usually conducted with genuine civility (I’ll talk about phony civility later) and humor. In short, my father taught me how to argue. I remain grateful that he taught me how to disagree without being disagreeable.
I still lived at home for part of the Carter administration and his opening gambit for many political arguments was, “Your boy Carter did” XY or Z. After reminding him that Vice President Mondale was my boy, not his boss, we were off. In 1980, he supported Poppy Bush in the primaries, but wound up voting for Reagan twice saying that he’d “filed down the sharp edges” as president. I politely but firmly disagreed.
I put my father’s lessons to work many times over the years. I had a string of conservative friends with whom I loved to argue. As far as I was concerned, I usually won the arguments and I suspect they felt likewise. I learned a lot from the smarter ones. That’s right, there used to be many intelligent conservatives, which, even for me, is hard to believe after witnessing yesterday’s impeachment debate.
American politics has gotten ruder and cruder in the last 40 years but it’s not a new phenomenon. Regardless of Kevin McCarthy’s bizarre interpretation of the “civil” 1800 election, Adams skipped the inauguration and he and Jefferson hated one another for the next 20 years. We lived through the War of the Rebellion, McCarthyism, and the excesses of the war on terror. Critics called FDR a “traitor to his class” and implied that he was a Jewish communist. Of course, he was neither. He thought the whole Franklin D. Rosenfeld thing was hilarious.
The turning point in the modern civility wars was the election of Newt Gingrich to Congress. He was a bomb thrower who brought New Left tactics to the New Right. He was out of office by 2010 but the Tea Party wave election perfected the rise of the rude. Overt racism slowly but surely replaced the dog whistle culminating in the whole birther mishigas. Yesterday, Gym Jordan and his ilk accused Democrats of “hating President* Trump” but the cycle of hatred intensified with their racist attacks on President Obama.
I miss genuine civility but phony or forced civility is for the birds. 21st Century phony civility typically involves Republican demands that “the left” bow down and be nice to them. It’s never reciprocal. Genuine civility involves reciprocity: the relationships between John McCain and Joe Biden and John Kerry involved genuine civility, not the ersatz kind. Genuine political civility seems to have been interred with Senator McCain.
It’s time at long last to get to the post title. When I was growing up, we heard a lot about the Loyal Opposition. It was premised on the notion that the things Americans have in common are more important than our differences. It was a concept often honored in the breach, but it was important. It was like the way I discussed politics with my father, respectful disagreement without questioning the other side’s patriotism.
Respectful disagreement is out of fashion. It’s made impossible by the lunacy of the current Republican party and their dear leader, President* Pennywise. Yesterday, House Republicans gave lip service to the idea of unity without practicing it. Unity like genuine civility requires reciprocity. The extremism of Congressional Republicans makes that impossible.
As the Biden administration comes to power it’s clear that, to begin with, Republicans will be the Disloyal Opposition. It took a riot for many of them to admit that the Kaiser of Chaos lost the election.
The GOP not only nominated and elected a malignant narcissist, they’ve allowed right-wing extremists to infiltrate their party. The GOP is no longer a conservative party, it’s a far-right radical party. Genuine conservatives seem to be outnumbered by the wingnuts or they’re too afraid to stand up for their beliefs. That means their beliefs are meaningless. Genuine conservatives would have voted to impeach.
The Disloyal Opposition has been active since the election. There are now QAnon types in the House. They call themselves libertarians but they’re really anarchists. That’s why they refuse to go through metal detectors and insist on arming themselves. This sort of thinking led to the Dipshit Insurrection. Freedom, man.
There are credible charges from New Jersey Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill that some of her more extreme colleagues allowed insurrectionists to conduct what amounts to reconnaissance of the Capitol on January, 5. Group tours were once common, but they’ve been tightly restricted during the pandemic. The only way groups can tour the Capitol now is with the permission of a member and must be accompanied by a member or staffer.
I should have called her Lt. Commander/Representative Sherrill. She served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot. She’s a serious person who observed some serious shit. To prove her seriousness, she isn’t naming names publicly until she’s certain which members are complicit in the rioter’s reconnaissance of a building that’s a labyrinth. Even members sometimes get lost. The insurrectionists knew where they were going. That’s why I call House Republicans the Disloyal Opposition.
Several names have been floated but I’ll only mention one, Rep Paul Gosar of Arizona. That’s because his estranged siblings believe that he was involved in the planning of the Dipshit Insurrection.
The brother of Arizona Representative Paul Gosar (R) said he believes the congressman committed treason for his role in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Five people were killed, including a U.S. Capitol police officer.
“What he’s done personally is commit treason I think,” David Gosar told ABC15. “He has blood on his hands for those people dying in there.”
Ali “Alexander” Akbar, the man who says he is responsible for organizing the Stop the Steal Rally, claims Gosar and Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs (R) were among those who helped with the planning. Biggs denies involvement.
“With his participation in the rally ahead of time, the lies he spread down there about the election, his meeting with Trump, he’s as instrumental as a member of Congress with what happened at that capitol,” David Gosar said from Wyoming where he is a practicing attorney.
If that’s not disloyal, I don’t know what is.
I’m not talking about loyalty to party or president. I’m talking about loyalty to the constitution and to our democracy. The peaceful transfer of power has been pushed to the limit in the past, but it’s always happened. Thanks to the Impeached Insult Comedian and his followers that’s no longer true.
The transfer of power will happen but there remains a chance of violence. The good news is that the federal government is prepared to meet the challenge with overwhelming force. The bad news is that it’s necessary because of the Disloyal Opposition.
The last word goes to Kiwi rock music demigod Dave Dobbyn: