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Bill Barth
They don't like what they see
Punish conduct, not thought
Emotion. The enemy of reason
What's so scary about tea partiers?
Celebrate being alive
Yes. Be careful
Lessons to learn from conflict
No longer needed?
Why Americans are angry
   The Republican Party did not just lose national elections in 2006 and 2008. The party is dead. Toes up. Pushing daisies. Worm food.
   Republicans are the new Whigs, Federalists and Know-Nothings. It’s hopeless to even try a comeback. The new Democrat majority will carry on forever, or at least for 40 years and multiple generations. So sayeth no less a political seer than James “Cue Ball” Carville.
   Time magazine even put it on the cover. Get out the shovels and dig a big hole to bury that poor, pitiful elephant.
   All of that palaver fits neatly into my overall theory of what’s wrong with politics in America:
   Simple — politicians and pundits are dumb.
   Really. They are constitutionally incapable of learning a lesson, no matter how many times it is repeated for their benefit.
   Let’s just consider relatively recent history.
   When the Nixon administration imploded over Watergate, the scandal-ridden Republicans were headed to the political bone-yard. It was so bad a man with decades of honorable experience as a congressional leader, vice president and president — Gerald Ford — was swept out of office by a funny-talking, funny-looking peanut farmer from Georgia. Republicans were so scared they hid behind potted plants in Congress. Democrats could not stop gloating.
   Then along came Ronald Reagan. California Ron’s sun shone so brightly, his party expected to create a new — they dared to say “permanent” — Republican majority, based on a solid south and a solid west and southwest.

   Apparently, permanent meant only until Bill Clinton had the opportunity to shove the first Bush aside, with a little help from Texas oddball Ross Perot. Clinton enjoyed an open field until Newt Gingrich engineered the Republicans’ “Contract With America,” which brought Republicans control of the Congress.
   Then, in 2000, George W. Bush rode his Florida landslide into the White House, with a brief detour past the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans surveyed Washington — and most of the nation’s statehouses — and declared themselves imperial rulers of the landscape. W.’s political Merlin, Karl Rove, dared again to suggest the makings of a permanent Republican dynasty.
   It was brief. In 2006 voters swept Democrats into congressional authority. In 2008, the skinny black kid with the funny name from Chicago evicted the Republican Party from the White House. Meanwhile, Democrats increased their majority in Congress and captured statehouse after statehouse nationwide.
   Thus, the talk about throwing dirt on the Republicans’ grave.
   So what is the post-Nixon lesson?
   Simply put, it’s that a given party captures the halls of power barely long enough for the redecorators’ paint to dry. Politicians on both sides of the aisle keep deluding themselves into believing that, this time, the American people really mean it. We can do no wrong! They love us! They hate the other guy! They’ll never want a divorce!
   And, then, inevitably, the American people react as they should to such hubris. They kick the bums out.
   The other lesson politicians never learn is this: The people change the team so often because government keeps letting them down. Politicians of both stripes are painfully guilty of saying one thing while doing another. Every time. It’s a flimflam, and citizens eventually see through it. When voters are sufficiently disappointed, they give the other party another chance. So it will be, sooner or later, with Republicans.
   Now, I find no joy in such shifts. Seems to me that voters’ behavior mimics what Einstein spoke of, when he said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.
   Republicans really are captives of big money interests. Democrats really are captives of unions and special-interest groups. So Republicans, once in power, lean hard right; Democrats, once in power, lean hard left.
   Most folks subsequently realize they are unrepresented. Most of us see some sensible positions from Republicans, and some sensible positions from Democrats. But it’s hard to get “sensible” in the same sentence with elective government, which has become all about dividing the spoils.
   Moral of the story: The Republicans probably aren’t dead, though I wish they were. In a perfect world the Democrats would be dead, too.
   Imagine a third way, a party of common sense, statesmen who could balance a budget while protecting the shores and allowing people to live and let live. No more Rush Limbaugh. No more Nancy Pelosi.
   Oh, well. A fellow can dream.