The Republican political landscape has become increasingly surreal during the past decade. We had eight years of fiscal and foreign policy catastrophe under Bush-Cheney. We had the serio-comic spectacle of the "maverick" McCain-Palin ticket in 2008. We had 8-10 presidential nomination candidates eating each other for lunch during the 2011 primaries. Along the way we've picked up the circus freak show known as the Tea Party. And now we have Mitt Romney, the Wall Street wiz who outsourced jobs to other nations, who keeps his wealth in offshore accounts where it can't be taxed or audited, and who won't reveal his tax returns, as the presumptive Republican presidential candidate in 2012.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any more trippy, Romney revealed over the weekend that he's chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate ~ the same Paul Ryan who has authored exactly two successfully-passed bills during his 13 years in Congress ~ the naming of a post office and changing the excise tax on hunting arrows. Oh, and who has proposed what is arguably the most devastating federal budget in history. The Romney-Ryan team would love to increase taxes on the middle class, decrease taxes on the wealthy, eliminate Social Security and Medicare, and in ways too numerous to count turn America into an oligarchy. Well, more of an oligarchy than it already is. And by the way? The word "veteran" can be found precisely nowhere in the Ryan budget. Nice.
For years I've favored a single descriptor for each political party ~ Republicans being corrupt, and Democrats being inept. Democrats, bless their little hearts, have their values more or less straight when it comes to looking out for the best interests of the citizenry at large. Nearly any social reform you can name has been supported by Democrats, and opposed by Republicans ~ civil rights, women's rights, decent health care, a living wage, clean air and water, restraints on the robber barons of industry and commerce. Not that Democrats are saints. Anyone in power will be tempted to abuse it, and many legislators cannot resist. I can name members of both parties whom I admire (more among Democrats), and members of both parties whom I despise (more among Republicans).
But when it comes to sheer, shameless lunacy, greed, irrationality, venom, and a willingness to fleece the public, the Republicans take the gold medal. Literally and figuratively. Here's an example ~ Meet Paul Ryan ~ Climate Denier, Conspiracy Theorist, Koch Acolyte. This is the man who names Ayn Rand as his primary influence on how society should work.
If Romney had his head on straight (but when has that ever happened?), strategically he would have named a more centrist Republican as his running mate, not someone even more out on the radical fringe than he himself is. It's called balancing the ticket. Romney's myopia in seeking to appease the ultra-conservative wing of the party is probably the best gift he could have given Barack Obama. More and more mainstream Republicans are agreeing with me.
Take a peek at Five Adjectives That Scream "Don't Vote Republican!". They are ~
The article provides plenty of behavioral and legislative evidence to back up its claim. Long story short, the G.O.P. ship has lost its rudder. Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, even Ronald Reagan would not recognize the alien spawn into which the party has morphed.
Business Insider online says it has proof ~ Proof that Republicans Really Are Dumber Than Democrats. The gist is that for every percentage point increase in college graduates within a state, the percentage of people who identify themselves as Democrats increases (see chart below, click to enlarge). It seems a sweeping generalization to me, for there are surely many intelligent Republicans, and many less-than-intelligent Democrats. Still, it's hard to argue with the reality that states which are more Democratic / more liberal tend to invest more in higher education and other human services, while states which are more Republican / more conservative tend to invest less.
Disclaimer ~ I am not totally enamored with Barack Obama. In particular, I believe he has really dropped the ball when it comes to environmental issues, climate change, and human rights internationally. One reason Republicans have been so successful at stonewalling his agenda (and paralyzing the nation in the process) is precisely Obama's preference for compromise. Republicans understand that it's easy to rigidly oppose someone who hasn't yet gotten the hang of playing hardball. But based on the respective parties' values alone, I hope Obama is able to supplement his persuasive oratory and Constitutional acumen with a touch of ruthless legislative persuasion like that mastered by LBJ. Sometimes it's the only way to break the logjam. Because I'd far rather have four more years of slow but steady progress under Obama, than four minutes of the mediocrity and regressive policies of Romney.