We older folk tend to compare our society these days to what we grew up with and experiences of years ago. Most of the time, the younger population thinks those changes are “no big deal.” “Just how things are,” they tell us.
Well, some of them ARE big deals. And just ‘cause that’s “how things are” doesn’t mean we have to accept them. Or, that they’re right.
One such change that rankles me is the ever-present attitude of too many folk who’ve come to believe they’re right - despite all facts to the contrary. Rather than accept losing an argument or an election, they cling to their case, ignore reality and reason, keep espousing their B.S. and, in many cases, actively work against their fellow citizens.
While this societal “change” is found in just about everything we do these days, it’s most prevalent in politics. It shows up after elections when one side prevailed and one side lost. Rather than honoring the outcome and putting away the campaign paraphernalia until next time, the new attitude is to hold fast to losing arguments - even fact-less propaganda - and become obstructionists. Congress is Exhibit “A” for this type of behavior. Many legislatures, too. And just some people.
I remember my small town Republican parents doing their part for Tom Dewey when he ran against President Truman. They distributed yard signs and flyers for Dewey and Deschutes County GOP candidates. Mom often served on election day as a volunteer. But I also clearly recall, when the election was over and Truman was back in the White House, they helped pick up all the yard signs, closed out the election paperwork and accepted the results. That’s what you did. Until next time. Until 1952.
That’s not true today in too many elections. Instead, the losing side circles the wagons, reloads the ammunition and becomes an entrenched opposition trying to gut the winners and the obvious decision of the majority of voters.
The latest “winner” who’s going to face land mines from losers is Paul Ryan. And, they’ll come from within his own Republican party. The losers who’ll keep on fighting. Even with their own kind.
Ryan was elected Speaker of the House 238-9. But the plain fact is some of those 238 ballots were cast with clenched teeth. The day before, 45 Repubs voted for someone else besides Ryan during a closed-door caucus vote. Ryan had held out agreeing to be Speaker as he sought a more unanimous vote. You can bet the phones were busy overnight.
Ryan’s opponents within his own caucus are hardcore GOP zealots. Count Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador among them. Their driving political sense is that of the Kamikaze pilot who believed not in the facts of the day - Japan had lost the war - but of the eventual “rightness” of the cause. Where the two differ is Labrador and cohorts have no “cause,” damned little facts and a determination to just destroy the opposition regardless of political party.
They don’t give a damn if government is already run by Republicans controlling both houses of Congress. Those of their party in control don’t “represent” the zealots outlook on things. Their leaders are often seen as part of the problem. Just like those damned Democrats. Purity of cause is the mother’s milk of these people. One instance of “collaboration” and Ryan will be deemed “impure.”
The best and most successful politicians know you don’t get everything you want on every issue. So, they determine what’s possible by compromise and inclusion to get the job done. To Labrador and his ilk, that’s treason.
This you can take to the bank. Early on, Ryan will decide on something - anything - he wants to achieve. Something he’ll go to the mat for. Something the zealots oppose. When that happens - and it will - the knives will come out. Ryan may convince a majority of his caucus to support him then. But that support won’t total 238. It’ll be something closer to 190.
Which means Ryan - if he truly wants to carry the day - will have to turn to House Democrats to be successful. When that happens, the target will be removed from the corpse of John Boehner and pinned on Ryan’s back.
We’re told Ryan wants to be president someday. Good for him. Every one should aspire to something. Even president. But, if - like Boehner - he’s drawn and quartered politically by the crazies in his own party, he’ll have to shift his presidential hopes a bit lower. Like president of the Janesville Rotary Club.
Yep, times have changed. Our vaunted electoral system has become home for too many zealots who don’t understand why their political ancestors accepted negative election results - why they put away the signs and worked with the winners until the next go-round. Why they didn’t keep their swords drawn and charge up one political hill after another to defeat what the majority of voters had said they wanted.
Me? I prefer the old ways. So Dewey lost in ‘48. Now, was Harry all that bad? Really?