I am not a Republican.
Admittedly, this declaration will not astonish anyone who knows me. Nor, for that matter, should it come as any great revelation to any number of people who know me only slightly or not at all, other than through this weekly column, or perhaps one of the relatively rare occasions when this or that civic group or media outlet lapses in its judgment and invites me to sit on a panel, or moderate a discussion, or even, God save us all, to hold forth at length on my peculiar views of the state of this magic little city of ours.
In other words, my “revealing” that I am not a Republican is roughly as revelatory as announcing that I do not possess the power of flight, or that I am not now and never have been a professional wrestler. For the record, I’m not a Democrat either — I used to be, but I gave it up some years ago, out of general embarrassment — but for now, let’s stick to the matter at hand.
I am not a Republican.
I mention this in the first place mostly because for several months now, I’ve been receiving regular emails from such GOP “thought leaders” as Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Fine Americans that they are, these gentlemen seem unable to express the depths of their gratitude for my long and generous devotion to the Republican cause — things like standing fearlessly between the working people of America and the soul-killing scourge of affordable health care; working tirelessly to achieve the dream of ensuring that guns and ammunition are available to every man, woman and child in America in unlimited quantity, caliber and destructive capability; and last but not least, using every means necessary to ensure that the rest of the world understands that not only is God white, Christian, heterosexual and, above all, American, but He (for He certainly is a “he”) also is at all times volcanically angry at everyone who isn’t, and wants nothing more from us than that we share His anger.
Another thing these prominent Republicans are concerned about is that, despite my unflagging support and their own dogged toil on the front lines, the Party of Lincoln is not standing strongly enough as a bulwark against the march of human progress, nor doing nearly enough to stem the tumultuous tide of freedom and democracy. The only hope, they say, of turning the tide at long last in favor of my fellow Republicans and me is my additional immediate contribution of $50 or $100 or $500 or more to the Victory Over Satan Foundation, or the Fund for the Forcible Restoration of American Values or some other of the legion of organizations that exist only to abet the Republican National Committee in subverting the few remaining laws that govern the financing of Presidential campaigns.
Again, though, I am not a Republican. And, I have to say, I’m a little relieved, because judging from the correspondence alone, it sure seems like a lot of work, not to mention bearing the apparently constant expense associated with preventing Obama (as they generally refer to the twice-duly-elected President of the United States, no first name or honorific deemed necessary) from declaring himself Supreme Dictator for Life and making it mandatory that all registered Republicans surrender 98.6 percent of their personal wealth, become gay and move to Western Europe. Not to brag, but I have plenty of other things on my mind without being called on to shoulder my share of that burden, even if Newt Gingrich does confide in me that the survival of the Free World hinges upon it.
Nevertheless — and despite the fact that I have voted for the Republican candidate in exactly zero of the 10 Presidential elections (counting 2016) in which I have been an eligible elector — the Republicans have found me. And not only that, but if the brightest stars in the GOP’s intellectual firmament may be taken at their word, they count me as one of their own. Or at least they want me to pay them for the privilege of nourishing the delusion that they do.
In the event that I prove resistant to such blandishments, the Republicans have in reserve a weapon that echoes across the generations to inspire fear and trembling in all who resent and are jealous of the American way of life. That weapon, of course, is the late Ronald Reagan, our 40th President — or, as he is best known today, the namesake of the Ronald Reagan Republican Center, on Capitol Hill, and its eponymous and magnificent Reagan Founders Wall.
Incredibly, I became aware of the existence of the Reagan Founders Wall only six days ago. That’s when my good friends, Every Republican in the United States Senate — I know, because they signed themselves “Senate Republicans” — emailed to encourage me to “become a part of history” with my gift of $25 or more.
Congratulations! Senate Republicans wrote. You have been selected for the honor of having your name engraved on the Summer 2016 panels of [the wall]. Doug recommended you based on your history of supporting Republicans.
On reading this, I made the mistake of beginning to wrack my brain for prominent Republicans I know who are named “Doug.” I say it was a mistake because it was only the next day that I looked back at the email and discovered that my “exclusive opportunity” had been available for only three hours, due to the fact that “only 905 spaces” remained available, and “slots are filling up fast!”
What’s an honorary Republican to do? Would President Reagan be disappointed, if he was here to witness the mockery I unwittingly made of the principles on which the Ronald Reagan Republican Center and the Reagan Founders Wall were conceived?
These are the thoughts that consumed me — until this very morning, when Senate Republicans reached out again. The text of the email was much the same, except that, possibly to save my friend, Doug the Republican, the embarrassment of being associated with my prior non-response, this one advised that my inclusion on the Reagan Wall had been recommended by “a prominent conservative leader.” Space on the wall continues to disappear at a dizzying clip, with the number of slots available for the prestigious Class of Summer 2016 dwindled now to 562.
This is heady stuff, being so well thought of by people like Doug and the prominent conservative leader (assuming they are not the same person, or even if they are) that they would want me to join them in honoring the worst President of my lifetime who is not named George W. Bush. Doug and the prominent leader — along with Newt and Marco and Ted and the rest of the GOP brain trust — are team players, and if they assume that I am particularly susceptible to appeals to my racism, sexism, classism and/or general xenophobia just because my email is on a list of emails of white men in Birmingham, Alabama, who are between the ages of 35 and 55 and have (at least theoretically) disposable income…well, perhaps that says more about Birmingham, Alabama, than it does about my new Republican pals.
And it’s not just the big names. Republicans are nothing if not thorough in their absolute intolerance of deviations from the Party line, and so I also hear periodically from the second- and third- and fourth-stringers, the scrubs, the scrimmage team. But so well oiled is the GOP communications machine that these folks have exactly the same basic message as Senate Republicans and Newt and Marco and Ted, et. al., the only difference being that the state legislators and retired judges and backroom fixers that comprise the ground troops apparently lack access to a reliable program for checking spelling and grammar.
Witness Alabama, where former Alabama legislator Perry O. Hooper Jr. weighed in on Monday with his view of last weekend’s killing of 49 people — 53 more were wounded — by a lone gunman in an Orlando, Florida, nightclub. Speaking in his capacity as the Alabama co-chair of presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, Hooper referred to the mass killing as “this Radical Islamic attack,” calling it “an attack on us all, no less than the World Trade Center attack.”
“If this is not a wakeup call, I don’t know what is,” Hooper said in a press release that drew on his many years of expertise in geopolitical affairs (I feel obligated at this point to admit to being facetious on this particular point, and to withdraw any comment that might suggest that I credit Mr. Hooper with knowing much of anything at all).
“Unfortunately,” Hooper’s statement continued, “the news cycle is sadly predictable. The Media and Hillary Clinton and her fellow Islamic Sympathizing Democrats lead [sp.] by her mentor Barak [sp.] Obama are already using this horrific event to attack the second amendment and the right of law abiding American Citizens to bear arms…. Lead [sp.] by the leftist national media they will do their best to change to [???] the debate to such trivial matters as how many dissatisfied students attended Trump University.”
“This was an act of war,” Hooper concluded. “Who do we want leading the response ‘Crooked Hillary’ or Donald J. Trump.” [?]
A valid question, I suppose (if only out of polite deference to the Republicans’ recent kindnesses toward me). Still, the timing of it, by which I mean its unconscionable atrocity, makes me wonder if, all of the attention and flattery they’ve been giving me aside, the Republican Party is the place for me after all.
As does pretty much everything that a once-serious political institution that, on the whole, could be assumed to be functioning with some level of genuine concern for the good of the country has come to stand for. Which is nothing, or nothing but empty bombast and dangerous posturing and the unending quest to set new standards of behavior that is intentionally harmful to the health of our beleaguered nation.
This is what is has come to for the Republicans, with consequences for the nation that will not even begin to be comprehended until after the November elections (and quite regardless of their outcome). The Grand Old Party officially has nothing to offer.
Are the Democrats any better? I’ll try to answer that next week. In the meantime, I’m just glad I’m not a Republican.