On Friday, the nation laid Bob Dole, one of the “old breed” of Republican politicians, to rest. Although there was much about his politics with which I could and did disagree, I still find him preferable to the crop that’s littering the halls of Congress these days. He proudly stated that he voted for Trump twice, but he boldly voted for the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it demonstrated the courage of his conviction.
Like many of his Republican contemporaries — Nelson Rockefeller, Everett Dirksen, Jack Kemp, Charles Percy — Dole held strong political beliefs, but never declared his political opponents, as is done now, to be his mortal enemies. The old-timers of both parties often spoke of contentious debates on the floors of Congress followed by a night of fellowship and drinking without regard for political affiliation.
Dole’s death signals the final hurrah of an era where the good of the nation was paramount in the minds of politicians. Instead, we now have partisan political rancor and wrangling that translates into a “death match” at each meeting. One can only question whether our nation and democracy can endure through a future foreshadowing protracted and interminable physical, psychological and political warfare.
I will not sugarcoat recent events by suggesting that I see two-party hostility. I place the blame for the current political acrimony squarely in the laps of Republicans, several specific Republican officeholders, a diabolical Senate minority leader and a cowardly House minority leader, as well as a disgraced grifter who has used latent racial animus and appealed to the fear of whites by suggesting a racial Armageddon.
From the infantile to the insane, the conduct of this “new” Republican party is unbelievable. I have not yet heard a member of the Republican “base” admit to the violence that occurred at the nation’s capitol on Jan. 6, 2020. Even participants in the event try to spin it to make it appear as though their actions were those of peaceful protestors. In the face of actual footage of the violence, there remains a sizable portion, if not a majority, of the base which denies the violence.
Former Vice President Mike Pence and his family were whisked away to safety under the chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” Even members of Congress who were witnessed cowering in the nooks and crannies of Capitol architecture or under the protection of the Capitol Police now resort to historical revisionism to declare that the assemblage was harmless!
Accused child molester/trafficker Matt Gaetz and verbal bomb-thrower Marjorie Taylor Greene go on a speaking tour to disparage their Democratic colleagues and threaten their own leadership. Without a job to do in Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene performs like the monster she is – threatening the physical and emotional well-being of Democrats and posting their personal contact information on social media.
Meanwhile, Lauren Boebert, the gun-toting high school dropout, lies with reckless abandon and attempts to evade gun-detection screenings in the Capitol, leaving other concerned members feeling threatened for their personal safety.
Although six of Paul Gosar’s nine siblings endorsed his opponent, Gosar was reelected to Congress in 2020. He was also stripped of his committee assignments and censured in November for creating an anime film of him beheading a likeness of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and wounding a likeness of President Biden.
One has to ask, where is the Republican leadership? Where is the expected self-regulation? Republican leadership has obviously abrogated their leadership roles to advance their personal interests. The antics of the Republican Crazy Caucus have earned them “crickets” from their leadership and suggest even more bizarre antics in the future.
Oh, for the “responsible” Republican leaders of a time gone by!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.