I’m not one to give a lot of thought or weight to the results of primaries (how can you draw conclusions from a 15%-20% voter turnout?), but there are a couple things that struck me about yesterday’s results…and they don’t bode well for our future.
First, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) was defeated in his re-election bid by Tea Party-financed Richard Mourdock. Lugar, 80, has served in the Senate since 1976 and is one of the few remaning “moderate” Republicans. I say “moderate” in the sense that Lugar isn’t one of today’s “slash and burn” Right-wing zealots. The populations of Republicans who at least nominally agree with the late Tip O’Neill’s belief that politics is “the art of the possible” dwindles with each passing election. Evidently, the Tea Party was furious with Lugar for compromising. Once. In 1981. It seems that “compromise” is to the Tea Party not so very far removed from “communist.”
While I’d caution from drawing too many conclusions from a primary in Indiana, I think it should serve as indication of the ascendancy of those Conservatives who feel that politics only works when their ideological enemies are utterly defeated and crushed under their boot heels. These folks truly feel that compromise is for losers and Liberals. For them, politics is a zero-sum game, and if you’re not on their side you’re worthy only of being destroyed.
All one has to do is to look back to the screaming and vitriol from 2010’s town hall season to understand that the Tea Party is held together primarily by rage and fear. It’s hard to compromise when you view your adversary as The Enemy…and yet here we are.
Second, North Carolina voters passed Amendment One, which placed a ban on same-sex marriage in the Tar Heel state’s constitution. Never mind that same-sex marriage was already illegal in North Carolina; voters there were convinced of the need to double down on hatred and discrimination. I can’t help but wonder what it says about people when they’re willing to enshrine hatred and discrimination in their state’s constitution. No, North Carolina isn’t the first state to double down on the “need” to let the LGBT community know that they’re “less than,” but time was when the same conviction was applied to women and African-Americans. Could it be that Americans feel adrift without a class of people they can hate and demonize?
There’s at least a little bit of good news on the horizon, and it comes from Wisconsin, where Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was chosen to take on Gov. Scott Walker in the recall election scheduled for June 5th. Gov. Walker has proven to be the willing able servant of the Koch brothers, and has worked hard to destroy Wisconsin’s middle class. Current polls indicate that Barrett has a good shot at unseating Walker; the larger question is how long it would take Barrett to undo the damage Walker has inflicted upon the people of Wisconsin.
American politics have always been a contentious and rough-and-tumble exercise. I can’t help but wonder how we got to a place where we can no longer be bothered to consider the opinions and rights of those who live, think, believe, and/or love differently? We’re better than this…aren’t we??
WE DESERVE BETTER.