For those who tuned in to Progressive Blend Radio expecting to hear me lead the interview of William Rivers Pitt of Truthout.org, things didn't go quite as planned. I had a major problem getting a decent connection to the station either via Skype or regular phone line so the guys in the studio had to come to the rescue, and rescue they did. So go ahead and get the podcast if you didn't tune in live. Pitt gave us some fascinating insights into his world of political journalism as well as a peak inside the inner world of a presidential campaign from his time as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich in 2008. We look forward to having him on again soon, maybe even with me being able to participate.
That said, the other main topic of the interview was the apparent desire of the Republican Party to disconnect itself from the vast majority of women voters in this country. It turns out the uproar a few weeks back over the Komen Foundation's announcement that it was dropping its funding to Planned Parenthood was just a peashooter hit to the bomb that was about to drop. Without getting to the details which are readily available, the GOP, through its currently surging presidential nomination candidate, Rick Santorum, seemed intent on raising the issue of women's contraception to one of major import. Deriving from health insurance issues involving the Catholic Church, to which Santorum is a strict adherent, the GOP objected to any government support of any form of birth control (while at the same time, the GOP in Virginia was pushing a state bill which would require women considering abortions to have an invasive internal ultrasound exam prior to the procedure-an exam which, if not approved by the woman but performed anyway, meets with precision the definition of rape-in this case state ordered rape).
Darrel Issa (R-California), initiated a set of hearings which led to the viral posting of the already well-known picture above, and then refused the request of any women to testify at the hearing. That it was all men discussing women's health was obvious and ridiculous enough. But what I finally realized while listening to the discussion on Progressive Blend was that they weren't just a bunch of men, they were a bunch of men representing assorted aspects of the nation's formal religious sects. They were leaders of institutions of society; institutions whose job it is to tell their followers how to live their lives.
It became clear to me that the greatest difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that the Republicans, for all their bluster about rugged individualism and the desire to preserve their liberty against government infringement, have no problem at all submitting themselves to other institutions quite easily. Institutions which, in most cases individuals have no philosophical control or influence over once they submit to it. They have made it clear that religious institutions, giant corporate enterprises, and the military, should be able to function without any interference from government (ignore for the moment that the military is part of the government as the folks I'm describing consider the military as separate from any notion in their heads from civilian government).
On the other hand, these grand supporters of liberty reject at every turn any expression of genuine individuality or independent thinking wherever it should happen to pop up, especially if it happens in a person's private life.
So here we have another of the many ironic hypocrisies of today's Grand Old Party. They do not actually appreciate the individual behavior of anyone that actually demonstrates any individuality, and they don't have any interest or respect for any institution that they actually have any control over, unless they happen to control it. In that case they demand that everyone respect it the same way that they do or be tarred as a sinner, one not a member of the other main institution they respect but have no control over: the Church; or as the functional equivalent of a foreign target of the other institutions that they respect but do not control: international corporations or the military.
The conclusion to be drawn here is rather shocking I think. The operating mindset of the functional wing of today's Republican Party is not just in opposition to the Democratic Party. It is, in a very real sense, completely against every principle they claim to champion. They seek to take this country to a place nowhere near any conception it was ever thought to represent, but instead, straight back to precisely what it was that it rebelled against in the first place: a unitary nation, run dynastically by privileged families who hold most of the wealth and most of the power. Today's Republican Party truly is a COUNTER-revolutionary movement by genuine conservatives as the term was understood BEFORE the American revolution. They wish to overturn a LIBERAL revolution in the sense that it liberated the people from the restrictions of institutions over which they had no authority.
As an aside, it is also testament to either the incompetence or the complicity of the Democratic Party that they can't or don't get the message across strongly enough regarding the true nature of the conservative movement. With little effort, the Democrats should be able to put the Republicans so far out of the race for any place in the government that they would be reduced to little more than an entertaining afterthought to the daily management of the country. But instead of the Republicans being just another little reality series with lousy ratings, they are allowed to step ever closer to gaining the trust and viewership to run this country right out of existence and back to the metaphorical teat of an old European Empire. Yet they accuse the Democrats of trying to imitate Europe. Irony becomes farce becomes tragedy.