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Do- Nothings and Mugwumps

Republicans and Democrats

by Everett Wilson
January 31, 2010

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Do- Nothings and Mugwumps

Senator VoteNo Brown from Massachusetts ran on a function, so he doesn't need a name.

He deserves some limited fame, however, because his election wrought a miracle in the field of mathematics. Though forty-one out of a hundred has never before constituted a majority in the history of the universe, it does now—at least according to the Republican party and the major news outlets.

The degree of fatuity demonstrated by their analysis evokes a memory from twenty years ago, when the Clintons were barely on the horizon and the Republicans thought they owed George the First another term.
Around that time Donna and I were in Chicago visiting our two youngest sons, in their last undergraduate years of college; and our youngest daughter, married to a seminarian and the mother of our first grandchild. We were out for dessert and coffee one evening, our guests being the roommate of one son and the future wife of the other. We basked in the presence of all the bright young people. (They are still bright, but edging toward middle age.)

Politics was in the Chicago air, and blowing across our table. In that conversation, I announced that it was time for a new party. Either the Republicans or Democrats would be replaced; I didn't know which. At the time I didn't care which.

During the silliness of the past two weeks there has been a perfect storm in which both national parties demonstrated their unfitness to govern, and the mainstream media demonstrated their incompetence to comment on it. The outcome for me is that I no longer think that one of the parties should be replaced. I think both must join the Whigs and the Dixiecrats in oblivion if the United States is to survive in recognizable form. The parties are not a symptom of our problem. They are the problem.

The Republicans are lemmings rushing to destruction in their pursuit of party loyalty, while the Democrats have demonstrated neither the moral courage nor the political competence to turn their majority into intelligent and effective legislation for the common good. To borrow political epithets from the past, the Republicans are today's Do-Nothing Party, and the Democrats are today's Mugwumps. (There is a fictitious but descriptive etymology for "mugwump" which I first learned in college, and which you will find cited in the Dictionary of Colloquialisms: "a bird who sits with its mug on one side of the fence and its wump on the other, ready to fly any way the wind blows." That is a pretty good description of the Democrats since they treated VoteNo's election as a major realignment of our political world, instead of as what it is: an anomaly of the sort that elected Jesse Ventura as a one-term governor of Minnesota.

Since the Democrats have fallen for the illusion that VoteNo represents something, they are on a frantic search for somebody to please. Right now they seem to be offering a smorgasbord of multiple-choice idiocies for us to choose from. As vacuous as this is, it is probably less dangerous to the public good than the single idiocy of the Republicans, "Just vote no."

The Republicans will probably disappear first, since the dream ticket of so many of them seems to be Sarah Palin for President with VoteNo as her running mate. This would be political suicide for the Republicans, but at least they wouldn't be able to blame anybody else for it. It would also give responsible citizens, from all current parties and none, the time to organize a real political party before 2016, which will be a watershed year for better or worse.

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Bob McNaughton from Middletown, CT writes:
January 31, 2010
Senator VoteNo vowed to honor his name by voting against health insurance reform, AND to vote against banking reform! I'm sure he is the Jesse Ventura of Massachusetts, as you suggested. Regarding the two parties: have they become too big to fail? Won't they keep getting propped up? Won't those in positions of power do whatever it takes to repress new parties and keep present parties large?

On the matter of health care reform, I've been very surprised at the response of so many church members: they are so afraid of their own health care plans being somewhat downsized by any reform that they are against ALL reform. However, when folks lose their insurance for one reason or another, they become more interested in reform. With 17,000 losing insurance coverage every day, the momentum should eventually be in favor of some change, and even the Republicans should be able to read that change in the polls.

Good writing, Everett!

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