Democrats, Republicans — January 5, 2016 at 7:18 am

A contemporary political education from a Republican


This year will have many challenges, not the least of which will be comparing and contrasting Bernie and Hillary while sifting through the Frank Luntzian messages coming from the dozen or so remaining GOP presidential candidates. You might wonder why Progressives would even want to spend time inviting blood pressure problems by trying to decoding right-wing messages? For one thing, hearing out the opposition is a habit of mind that we see most often on the left because of our appreciation of nuance and our understanding of our own imperfections of thought. We have trouble putting Progressive politics on bumper stickers and placards because, well, modern life and government are complicated and difficult to distill into catch phrases. It’s because of this and because Internet right­-wing trolling appears to be swinging into full force that I offer below a crash course in “reasonable Republicanism,” the kind that existed before the party gave itself over to theocrats, autocrats, cosmocrats and plutocrats. (They are more ­-cratic than Democrats, see.)

Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a lifelong Republican and chief of staff to Secretary of State General Colin Powell, has much to say about the decline of the United States as an empire and world power, and he understands why all of the bombastic pandering and phony cheerleading among his party’s candidates and their espoused policies will not reverse our country’s course and will certainly lead to an unmanageable acceleration of our decline. So if you are home from work or school with the chilblains, ague, or the vapors, please linger on your cot or sofa and watch this presentation by Colonel Wilkerson who explains where the U.S. is today, why we’re here, and what should be done about it.

There is something refreshing and even encouraging about a high profile Republican who is critical and introspective and confronts, assesses, and suggests solutions to the problems of our nation while he is aligned with a party that has failed to govern or has misgoverned us for decades. Wilkerson is of course not alone in jabbing at his party. There have been others who’ve taken their party to task. Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann wrote an entire book criticizing the Republican Party for its fecklessness and extremism, terms the current GOP likes to use in describing President Obama’s policies.

Ornstein and Mann have continued their criticism, pointing out that the GOP has been aided and abetted in their folly by a mainstream media that is insistent that “both sides do it,” an insistence based on the media’s need not to offend in order to secure access. We’ve seen what happens to reporters who confront GOP candidates and make them uncomfortable, as Chris Christie tells them to “shut up” or Donald Trump has Jorge Ramos of Univision ejected from a town hall late last summer. Colonel Wilkerson criticizes the media for the same reasons and believes that foreign reporters and foreign newspapers do a better job of looking at events in the U.S. than does our corporately owned news media.

The Colonel’s presentation is lengthy and is followed by a Q and A with the audience, but if you can remain engaged with the lecture you will find an amazing level of cross­over between “old school” Republican thinking and contemporary Progressivism, including approval of single payer health care, a need to reduce military spending, the toxicity of corporate lobbyists, and the importance of dealing with climate change (Wilkerson does not equivocate about the reality of climate change.). His audience’s reactions and questions at the end are actually encouraging inasmuch as they may signal the possibility of sanity returning to some of the GOP. Watching Colonel Wilkerson is time well spent by all Americans, especially those whose only view of the world through the lens of Fox News.

[CC image credit: New America | Flickr]