By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
These days I’m finding it unusually hard to stay in touch with one of my core beliefs — that there is something sacred within every living creature.
I always have that problem with mosquitoes and black flies — and ants, but only when they get into my kitchen. Outside, I admire and respect them greatly.
I took part in a Native American ritual at the summer solstice; the leader spoke of care for “every sentient being.” I’m thinking of narrowing my care for living creatures accordingly, but first I have some research to do. There are some critters on my mind these days whose sentience I’m not sure about. For now, I’m taking tomato slugs off my care list. I wonder if it’s OK to remove some prominent members of the Republican Party, too.
What prompts this bit of snark (Urban Dictionary says it’s a combination of “snide” and “remark”) is the new (?) Republican “Pledge to America,” a document that is giving those of us who were sentient in 1994 and remain so déjà vu all over again.
That was the year that a newt named Gingrich brought forth a document he unfortunately named “Contract with America,” similarly to the current document, about six weeks before the mid-term election. Immediately a thousand leftie wags renamed in the Contract on America, but the Republicans seem to think it’s what gave them their majority in both houses of Congress in the 1996 election.
Those whose sentience I question also seem to forget that that win and the arrogance and vindictiveness (think Clinton, think impeachment) that followed brought them a major case of whup-ass in 1998.
Linking the 1994 Contract and the minor re-write that is the Pledge, is the orange-skinned John Boehner, apparently determined to be a race unto himself, whose name, despite how it looks, is pronounced BAY-ner.
Lest you think the present batch of Republicans have anything new to say, Jon Stewart, the Comedy Central newscaster who masquerades as a comedian but is really one of America’s most serious journalists, put together a video montage of Republicans in 1994 presenting the Contract and a different batch, except for Boehner, presenting the Pledge on September 23.
See it here. It runs 4 minutes and 36 seconds. The really good part starts at about 1:15 and ends around 3:35 with Boehner saying the dumbest thing a politician introducing his party’s new ideas could say. A word of warning. Maybe I’m a prude, maybe I’m naive about the sophistication of today’s pre-teens, but if you watch this video with people under 13, maybe even older, you should probably cut away at the 4 minute mark or be prepared to answer a question you’d rather not be asked.
But if you’re watching it with adults only, stay around. It’s pretty funny, actually.
Those who are supposed to know about these things are saying the Democrats will probably lose their majority in the House and, were it not for the Madwoman of Delaware, the Senate, too. Out of pure party loyalty — I’ve been a registered Democrat for more than 50 years — I should say that would be a terrible thing. But I’m not a pure party loyalist. I’ve voted for Republicans more than once, and for an Independent for president once.
And, in truth, though I know I’ll be depressed as hell on Nov. 3 if the Democrats are humiliated, I’m not at all sure it would be such a terrible thing if the Republicans got a majority in the House. They’ve done so much harm already through their behavior in the Senate. Let them get as arrogant as they got after the 1994 mid-term election and that will double-Dutch ensure Barack Obama a second term in the White House.
Meanwhile, they won’t be able to do any of the awful things they want to do, like repealing the health care law and turning Social Security over to Wall Street traders. Obama would never sign such bills, and the Republicans could never muster the 2/3 majority in both houses necessary to overturn his veto.
They could let the START treaty expire and set climate change legislation back another two years, but I’m not sure they would do either, and if they do, life will go on and we’ll whup them good and proper in 2012, maybe bringing in some new Democrats who aren’t on the list for a spine transplant.
That said, I do hope you’ll swallow whatever disappointment you feel with the present administration and go out and vote on November 2. Woody Allen is supposed to have said that 80% of success is just showing up, and showing up at the polls would be good for whatever success you’re hoping for.
If you wonder what difference voting might make, download the whole Pledge or the one-page “pocket card” and see how closely the values expressed in the Republican manifesto track with your own values. As you read, pay attention both to what’s there and what’s missing.
As I said, I’m really trying to remember that there is something sacred in all living beings, even the dominant members of the Republican Party. But I’m finding them really trying, and it’s awfully hard to do.