Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Republican Party of Refusal and Obstruction

by Ron Powell

The civil unrest that has been spawned by the results of the election in Iran is a very revealing and telling occurence. While it is quite easy for people to appreciate how to keep score to determine the "winner" in the democratic process we call an election, we (Western European Democracies) been haven't done a good job of providing instruction or direction regarding the role and function of the "loser".

Then it came to me. The role and function of the loser is to simply go away. When one faction wins an election. They often begin to function as if the losers don't exist or shouldn't have existed to begin with.

Losers are, more often than not, rounded up, arrested, charged, and imprisoned often for being guilty of nothing more than being on the short end of the "democratic" electoral stick.

In a demcracy, the role of the loser(s) is to become the loyal opposition, and continue as legitimate proponents of the idea that even the losers in an election should continue to have a say in the policies and practicies of the government now in the hands of, or being controlled by, the winners. In places like Iran, the notion of keeping score in the election on a zero-sum basis, hasn't been translated into the notion that zero-sum elections don't necessarily mean winners take all and the losers get nothing.

The all or nothing at all approach to elections, especially in places where democracy is still a virgin concept, can result in some rather bizzare, by our standards, political behavior such as violence and revolution. Clear evidence of the fact that we have not done the job of teaching peaceful transition or transfer of power from one group to another. That is one of the cornerstones of the political democracy that we attempt to export to places that know nothing of "the rule of law" and "constitutional representative government". If the losers are treated as though they have been conquered or vanquished, the only recourse they may perceive is overthrow of the government or non-compliance with the rule of the laws as promulgated by their governing bodies.
Which brings me to the point of this post. The Republicans lost. Conservatives and conservatism is no longer the order of the day regarding control of the reins of political and economic power. To make matters worse, in their view, a black man is now seated at the head of the table, the very place where, as the unwritten, uspoken but very real rules of the political game in America go, that at no time and under no circumstances should any person of color gain control of the government, and take the seat at the head of the table.

In their view, the rule of exclusion has been broken, so rather than play by the written, generally accepted or traditional rules of the game ie become a "loyal" opposition and function in the role of the necessary counterbalance to the principal of "majority rule", the Republicans have decided to quit playing by the rules and act like the losers of an election in a third world democracy.

They have determined that rather than become the loyal opposition, they seem content to become "outside agitators" and teach and preach sedition, secession, and civil disobedience based on the distorted notion that the government is somehow not legitimate and therefor need not be acknowledged.

They will not be a loyal opposition but disloyal obstructionists. They have become not only the party of "No" but the party of "No way". They are becoming, in an ever more increasing fashion, the party of sore losers, disgruntled fanatics, right wing extremists, and the boldly violent lunatic fringe.

Despite some of President Obama's best efforts, the Republicans are refusing to take a place at the table of democratic discourse and debate, because a they believe that a black man is seated in the wrong place. They refuse totake a seat while he sits at the head of the table in what theycontinue to insist is "their" own house.

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