An open letter to conservatives Written by Russell King, March 22, 2010
Dear Conservative Americans,
The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You’ve lost me and you’ve lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I’d like to give you some advice and an invitation.
First, the invitation: Come back to us.
Now the advice. You’re going to have to come up with a platform that isn’t built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.
Your party — the GOP — and the conservative end of the American political spectrum has become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, it’s tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some examples — by no means an exhaustive list — of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.If you’re going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you’ll have to start by draining this swamp:
You cannot flip out — and threaten impeachment - when Dems use a preliminary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that’s centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.
You cannot vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it’s done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) — 114 of you (at last count) did just that — and it’s even worse when you secretly beg for more.
You cannot fight against your own ideas just because the Dem president endorses your proposal.
You cannot call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.
Are they “unlawful enemy combatants” or are they “prisoners of war” at Gitmo? You cannot have it both ways.
You cannot carry on about the evils of government spending when your family has accepted more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts.
You cannot refuse to go to a scheduled meeting, to which you were invited, and then blame the Dems because they didn’t meet with you.
You cannot rail against using Teleprompters while using Teleprompters. Repeatedly.
You cannot rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening.
You cannot be for immigration reform, then against it .
You cannot enjoy socialized medicine while condemning it.
You cannot flip out when the black president puts his feet on the presidential desk when you were silent about white presidents doing the same. Bush. Ford.
You cannot complain that the president hasn’t closed Gitmo yet when you’ve campaigned to keep Gitmo open.
You cannot flip out when the black president bows to foreign dignitaries, as appropriate for their culture, when you were silent when the white presidents did the same. Bush. Nixon. Ike. You didn’t even make a peep when Bush held hands and kissed (on the mouth) leaders of countries that are not on “kissing terms” with the US.
You cannot complain that the undies bomber was read his Miranda rights under Obama when the shoe bomber was read his Miranda rights under Bush and you remained silent. (And, no, Newt – the shoe bomber was not a US citizen either, so there is no difference.)
You cannot attack the Dem president for not personally* publicly condemning a terrorist event for 72 hours when you said nothing about the Rep president waiting 6 days in an eerily similar incident (and, even then, he didn’t issue any condemnation). *Obama administration did the day of the event.
You cannot throw a hissy fit, sound alarms and cry that Obama freed Gitmo prisoners who later helped plan the Christmas Day undie bombing, when — in fact — only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, helped to plan the failed attack.
You cannot condemn blaming the Republican president for an attempted terror attack on his watch, then blame the Dem president for an attempted terror attack on his.
You cannot mount a boycott against singers who say they’re ashamed of the president for starting a war, but remain silent when another singer says he’s ashamed of the president and falsely calls him a Maoist who makes him want to throw up and says he ought to be in jail.
You cannot cry that the health care bill is too long, and then cry that it’s too short.
You cannot support the individual mandate for health insurance, and then call it unconstitutional when Dems propose it and campaign against your own ideas.
You cannot demand television coverage, and then whine about it when you get it. Repeatedly.
You cannot praise criminal trials in US courts for terror suspects under a Rep president, and then call it “treasonous” under a Dem president.
You cannot propose ideas to create jobs, and then work against them when the Dems put your ideas in a bill.
You cannot be both pro-choice and anti-choice.
You cannot damn someone for failing to pay $900 in taxes when you’ve paid nearly $20,000 in IRS fines.
You cannot condemn criticizing the president when US troops are in harm’s way, then attack the president when US troops are in harm’s way, the only difference being the president’s party affiliation (and, by the way, armed conflict does NOT remove our right and our duty as Americans to speak up).
You cannot be both for cap-and-trade policy and against it.
You cannot vote to block debate on a bill, then bemoan the lack of ‘open debate’.
If you push anti-gay legislation and make anti-gay speeches, you should probably take a pass on having gay sex, regardless of whether it’s 2004 or 2010. This is true, too, if you’re taking GOP money and giving anti-gay rants on CNN. Taking right-wing money and GOP favors to write anti-gay stories for news sites while working as a gay prostitute, doubles down on both the hypocrisy and the prostitution. This is especially true if you claim your anti-gay stand is God’s stand, too.
When you chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, you cannot send sexy emails to 16-year-old boys (illegal anyway, but you made it hypocritical as well).
You cannot criticize Dems for not doing something you didn’t do while you held power over the past 16 years, especially when the Dems have done more in one year than you did in 16.
You cannot decry “name calling” when you’ve been the most consistent and outrageous at it. And the most vile.
You cannot spend more than 40 years hating, cutting and trying to kill Medicare, and then pretend to be the defenders of Medicare
You cannot praise the Congressional Budget Office when its analysis produces numbers that fit your political agenda, then claim it’s unreliable when it comes up with numbers that don’t.
You cannot vote for X under a Republican president, then vote against X under a Democratic president. Either you support X or you don’t. And it makes it worse when you change your position merely for the sake obstructionism.
You cannot call reconciliation out of bounds when you used it repeatedly.
You cannot spend tax-payer money on ads against spending tax-payer money.
You cannot condemn individual health insurance mandates in a Dem bill, when the mandates were your idea.
You cannot demand everyone listen to the generals when they say what fits your agenda, and then ignore them when they don’t.
You cannot whine that it’s unfair when people accuse you of exploiting racism for political gain, when your party’s former leader admits you’ve been doing it for decades.
You cannot portray yourself as fighting terrorists when you openly and passionately support terrorists.
You cannot complain about a lack of bipartisanship when you’ve routinely obstructed for the sake of political gain — threatening to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation in one session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented — and admitted it. Some admissions are unintentional, others are made proudly. This is especially true when the bill is the result of decades of compromise between the two parties and is filled with your own ideas.
You cannot question the loyalty of Department of Justice lawyers when you didn’t object when your own Republican president appointed them.
You cannot preach and try to legislate “Family Values” when you: take nude hot tub dips with teenagers (and pay them hush money); cheat on your wife with a secret lover and lie about it to the world; cheat with a staffer’s wife (and pay them off with a new job); pay hookers for sex while wearing a diaper and cheating on your wife; or just enjoying an old fashioned non-kinky cheating on your wife; try to have gay sex in a public toilet; authorize the rape of children in Iraqi prisons to coerce their parents into providing information; seek, look at or have sex with children; replace a guy who cheats on his wife with a guy who cheats on his pregnant wife with his wife’s mother;
You really need to disassociate with those among you who:
- assert that people making a quarter-million dollars a year can barely make ends meet or that $1 million “isn’t a lot of money”;
- say that “Comrade” Obama is a “Bolshevik” who is “taking cues from Lenin”;
- ignore the many times your buddies use a term that offends you and complain only when a Dem says it;
- liken political opponents to murderers, rapists, and “this Muslim guy” that “offed his wife’s head” or call then “un-American”;
- say Obama “wants his plan to fail…so that he can make the case for bank nationalization and vindicate his dream of a socialist economy”;
- equate putting the good of the people ahead of your personal fortunes with terrorism;
- smear an entire major religion with the actions of a few fanatics;
- say that the president wants to “annihilate us”;
- compare health care reform with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a Bolshevik plot the attack on 9/11,or reviving the ghosts of communist dictators (update: it’s also not Armageddon);
- equate our disease-fighting stem cell research with “what the Nazis did”;
- call a bill passed by the majority of both houses of Congress, by members of Congress each elected by a majority in their districts, an unconscionable abuse of power, a violation of the presidential oath or “the end of representative government”;
- shout “baby killer” at a member of Congress on the floor of the House, especially one who so fought against abortion rights that he nearly killed health care reform (in fact, a little decorum, a little respect for our national institutions and the people and the values they represent, would be refreshing — cut out the shouting, the swearing and the obscenities);
- prove your machismo by claiming your going to “crash a party” to which you’re officially invited;
- claim that Obama is pushing America’s “submission to Shariah”;
- question the patriotism of people upholding cherished American values and the rule of law;
- claim the president is making us less safe without a hint of evidence;
- call a majority vote the “tyranny of the minority,” even if you meant to call it tyranny of the majority — it’s democracy, not tyranny;
- call the president’s support of a criminal trial for a terror suspect “treasonous” (especially when you supported the same thing when the president shared your party);
- call the Pope the anti-Christ;
- assert that the constitutionally mandated census is an attempt to enslave us;
- accuse opponents of being backed by Arab slave-drivers, drunk and suicidal;
- equate family planning with eugenics or Nazism;
- accuse the president of changing the missile defense program’s logo to match his campaign logo and reflect what you say is his secret Muslim identity;
- accuse political opponents of being totalitarians, socialists, communists, fascists, Marxists; terrorist sympathizers, McCarthy-like, Nazis or drug pushers; and
- advocate a traitors act like secession, violent revolution , military coup or civil war (just so we’re clear: sedition is a bad thing).
If you’re going to use words like socialism, communism and fascism, you must have at least a basic understanding of what those words mean (hint: they’re NOT synonymous!)
You cannot cut a leading Founding Father out the history books because you’ve decided you don’t like his ideas.
You cannot repeatedly assert that the president refuses to say the word “terrorism” or say we’re at war with terror when we have an awful lot of videotape showing him repeatedly assailing terrorism and using those exact words.
If you’re going to invoke the names of historical figures, it does not serve you well to whitewash them. Especially this one.
You cannot just pretend historical events didn’t happen in an effort to make a political opponent look dishonest or to make your side look better. Especially these events. (And, no, repeating it doesn’t make it better.)
You cannot say things that are simply and demonstrably false: health care reform will not push people out of their private insurance and into a government-run program ; health care reform (which contains a good many of your ideas“socialist utopia”; health care reform is not “reparations”; nor does health care reform create “death panels”. and very few from the Left) is a long way from
You have to condemn those among you who:
- call members of Congress n*gger and f*ggot;
- elected leaders who say “I’m a proud racist”;
- state that America has been built by white people;
- say that poor people are poor because they’re rotten people, call them “parasitic garbage” or say they shouldn’t be allowed to vote;
- call women bitches and prostitutes just because you don’t like their politics ( re - pea -ted - ly );
- assert that the women who are serving our nation in uniform are hookers;
- mock and celebrate the death of a grandmother because you disagree with her son’s politics;
- declare that those who disagree with you are shown by that disagreement to be not just “Marxist radicals” but also monsters and a deadly disease killing the nation (this would fit in the hyperbole and history categories, too);
- joke about blindness;
- advocate euthanizing the wife of your political opponent;
- taunt people with incurable, life-threatening diseases — especially if you do it on a syndicated broadcast;
- equate gay love with bestiality — involving horses or dogs or turtles or ducks — or polygamy, child molestation, pedophilia;
- casually assume that only white males look “like a real American”;
- assert presidential power to authorize torture, torture a child by having his testicles crushed in front of his parents to get them to talk, order the massacre of a civilian village and launch a nuclear attack without the consent of Congress;
- attack children whose mothers have died;
- call people racists without producing a shred of evidence that they’ve said or done something that would even smell like racism — same for invoking racially charged “dog whistle” words (repeatedly);
- condemn the one thing that every major religion agrees on;
- complain that we no longer employ the tactics we once used to disenfranchise millions of Americans because of their race;
- blame the victims of natural disasters and terrorist attacks for their suffering and losses;
- celebrate violence , joke about violence, prepare for violence or use violent imagery, “fun” politicalhints of violence, threats of violence (this one is rather explicit), suggestions of violence or actualsuggesting anal rape with a hot piece of metal is beyond the pale); and violence, violence (and, really,
- Incite insurrection telling people to get their guns ready for a “bloody battle” with the president of the United States.
So, dear conservatives, get to work. Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bold-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred. Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America. We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we’ll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you.