GOP Clown Car Isn’t Funny Any More

This column appeared in the Northern Express on 12/5/2015.

The bizarre GOP primary season has caused a lot of head scratching on my head that is already over-scratched.  It’s far too simple to dismiss the long list of candidates as silly, stupid, the clown car, etc., but that doesn’t really help us understand what has happened to the Republican Party.  Despite several Facebook posts asking Republicans to explain to me what’s going on, not one of my GOP friends has taken up the challenge.  I know these folks fairly well, and I can’t imagine any of them voting for any of the declared GOP candidates.  And I assume neither can they.

But in the past couple of weeks, the preposterousness of Donald Trump, the lack of Carly Fiorina’s “truthiness”, the general state of Ben Carson’s confusion, Ted Cruz’s playground threats to fight our President, the historic amnesia of Jeb Bush, the bombastic nature of Chris Christie, Marco Rubio’s struggle with his conscious, and so on, have gone from amusing fodder for comedians to deadly serious provocations.

Since the brutal attacks abroad in Paris, Baghdad, Beirut, and Mali, coupled with the domestic terror attacks against Muslims and mosques in Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, and against Planned Parenthood in Colorado, laughing at the Republican candidates is no longer appropriate.  For the most part, laughing at the silliness coming from the GOP “debates” has been about the only elixir for people who are serious about our country and who have begun the search for Barack Obama’s successor.   But now that people have begun to act on the hate-filled rhetoric of the Republican candidates, laughing at the ineptitude of the field is not going to fly.

When Donald Trump calls for registration of Muslims and hints at establishing internment camps, we can all scream about the registration of Jews under Adolf Hitler.  When Marco Rubio suggests surveillance of not just mosques, but everywhere Muslims assemble, we can imagine George Orwell nodding in recognition of what’s coming next.  When Ben Carson equates refugees from Syria to rabid dogs, we are tempted to pat him on the head and dismiss him as that crazy uncle whose sense of reality was last observed in the late 1980’s.   When Carly Fiorina makes up lies about a video based on lies, we are tempted to sit her down and give her a lesson (complete with pictures) of basic Aristotelian logic.

But now people are dying because of the irresponsible rhetoric of those who would be our President. Equating Syrian refugees with the killers in Paris has not only caused undue delays and more misery for those people trying to escape Syria, but it has brought physical attacks on American people and property because we have been told that we have much to fear from Islam…all Islam…regardless of how and where it is practiced.   When people without the sophistication to realize that Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, et al, are horribly wrong with the facts and are fomenting hate for Muslims only to stay in the news, aren’t these hate mongers just as guilty of assault, arson, and the other crimes against Muslims as the people committing them?

When the terrorist in Colorado yelled “no more body parts” as he killed people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, just where do we think he got such an idea?  Since Planned Parenthood does not, in fact, sell body parts, why on earth would someone use terrorism to stop something that isn’t happening?  There will be many people who will dismiss his actions as those of an insane loner.  In reality, however, he was just following orders. Days after the Colorado terrorism, not one GOP candidate had condemned the atrocity.  Carly Fiorina, of course, blamed the liberal media.  But since she went on national television to institutionalize the idea that Planned Parenthood sells body parts knowing full well it was not true, doesn’t she have the same blood on her hands as does the shooter?

Up until the past couple of weeks, millions of people all over the country watched the Republican debates while playing a wide variety of drinking games for amusement. (Because for them, apparently, the words coming from the candidates’ mouths weren’t funny enough.)  Have a shot when Ronald Reagan’s name comes up.  Two shots for every mention of Benghazi.  Another shot when you hear “The war on Christians.”  There were even websites computing the amount of lost productivity due to severe hangovers on the days after the debates.  It was great fun watching the ten people on stage (and the four to seven at the little kids’ table) saying whatever came to mind just to fire up those in their party who just didn’t see the humor in it.  After all, reasonable people of both political parties knew that none of those on stage were remotely close to being “presidential.”  At some point, someone would emerge with the credentials, intelligence, and leadership to lead the national ticket.

But now it appears that no such candidate will emerge.  Even worse, the hate filled rhetoric, the horrendous lies, and the unconstitutional proposals spewing forth from the lips of today’s GOP superstars are being taken seriously and are moving people to action.  Because of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, etc., people are dying and property is being destroyed.  And all the while the reputation of the United States as country of compassion and action when people are in trouble has been badly tarnished once again.  If not for all the blood and tears, it would be funny how awful we must look to the rest of a suffering world.

There would be no point in bringing all this up if I didn’t have a solution.  Years ago, MTV ran a show called “Jackass”.  During the show, a troupe of physical comedians did ridiculous things for our amusement.  Johnny Knoxville, Steve O, Ryan Dunn, Wee Man, and more shot themselves out of cannons, filled limos with live bees, and punched each other in the groin on a weekly basis.  Like many of today’s serious Republican debate watchers, some “Jackass” viewers didn’t understand that what they were watching wasn’t to be repeated at home.  Several young people died or were crippled imitating the stunts.  MTV was first forced to prominently display a disclaimer and then eventually cancel the show.

So as a public service, I suggest the Republican Party borrow the MTV disclaimer for its next debate before anyone else gets hurt.   They’ll have to change a few words, but they can start with this:

“Don’t try this at home. Jackass features stunts performed by professionals and/or total idiots … MTV insists that neither you or any of your dumb little buddies attempt the dangerous crap in this show.”

 

 

 

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