In the version I learned as a child, Hope soothes the stings inflicted by the troubles that Pandora let loose. And I was taught, as Alexander Pope declared, that hope springs eternal in the human breast. But I find it hard to hope these days.
Every day, the news grows more daunting. The pundits seem unanimous: the Republicans will win the U.S. House and Senate in November.
Republicans have controlled Congress in the past, but those were not the Republicans of today. Some were reasonable human beings who could disagree with you without demonizing you or wanting you dead. They were even willing to work “across the aisle” to implement policies designed for the common good.
Today’s Republicans are different. Under the dominance of the “Tea Party” mob, they are intent on “cleaning house” and bringing back “their America.”
They remind me of the Bolsheviks in “Doctor Zhivago” and the leaders of the French Revolution. They are obsessed with revolt and revenge. The danger of a Dark Age of ignorance and destructiveness looms large.
Some of their leaders are patently non compos mentis. Michele Bachmann, for example, believes – like Joe McCarthy – that enemies of the state lurk in Congress, dedicated to the destruction of American society. Some, like Sharron Angle, want to dismantle the social safety net, doing away with such “burdens” as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance. Some, like Haley Barbour, are rewriting the history of the South, attributing civil rights advances to the natural evolution of white American thought.
The Republican leaders of today deny the dangers of environmental abuse. They want to “drill, baby, drill,” whatever the cost. They think that mankind “has domination over the birds of the air and the beasts of the field,” and that they are, therefore, justified in killing and abusing animals at will. In many cases, they are convinced of the superiority of the white race. And their mantra is “my way or the highway.”
They see the cultural advances of the past half century as an aberration, and are eager to rid America of such nuisances as racial equality, minority rights, tolerance of gays and lesbians, and compassion for the old, the poor and the sick. They demand the right to be “armed and dangerous” – at home and abroad.
If any other human being frustrates or angers them, they are ready to blow the SOB away. And if any other nation dares to disagree with them, they are prepared to respond with bombs, bullets and “boots on the ground.”
And the greatest danger might not be the things they do but the things they leave undone. Obsessed with revenge for real and imagined wrongs, radical Republican leaders are promising an avalanche of subpoenas. They plan to spend their time investigating any and everything, instead of dealing with the critical problems that threaten the economic survival of the United States.
The Republican leadership has come up with no plan to pull America out of the economic quagmire. Their agenda comprises the failed policies of yesteryear- tax breaks for the rich, unlimited defense spending to wage never-ending wars, free-market deregulation and Darwinian laissez faire, unchecked environmental pollution…
In other words, let the country – and the world – go to hell in a hand basket while the victors enjoy the spoils.