My Favorite Movie Pt 3 – ctd. (another unedited late night mental ramble)

Its eleven PM the night after I began the above named post. I’ve watched two more great hours of the British series The Hour. This season is every bit as engrossing as the first season. But now on to ramble and postpone sleep for another hour despite the likelihood that my grandsons will wake me early tomorrow.

I suggested that my sculpture and not movies would launch this late night ramble. Yeah, and I found more unexpected back up on the Daily Dish which I will link to before I go to bed.

I mentioned that my sculpture led to a single pro and con email. I’ve posted the pro in full. I won’t do the same with the con. I opened it the moment it came in my in box and just skimmed it. It was full of outrage which was over the top. The lead sentence gives a fair hint at its author’s appoplexy:

“Can you imagine a Duluth where a DFL mule was displayed sporting the Stars and Bars?  The city would be in an uproar. But slandering a symbol of conservatism is a cause to celebrate?  Perhaps a more appropriate sculpture would be one of the DNC Donkey sporting a swastika.”

I was delighted – not to have irritated the writer but that the writer had taken the trouble to write at all and left his phone number to boot. I took the message as an invitation to talk despite its heat. I sent a short message back telling him I’d be in touch when I got my grandkids out of my hair. That took a day and in the meantime he wrote back admitting to having reacted to my pushing his hot buttons. It was a nice note.

I will quote my email back which won his request that we get together sometime to talk politics. It turned out…..well, I think my reply will suffice for an explanation:

Sorry to take so long to get back to you ***********,

I’m still worn out from a couple days of grandchildren that I hadn’t planned on so I’ll keep this sort of short for the sake of my stamina.

I’ve been fascinated in the Civil War since its Centennial fifty years ago. I was a second grader in a Topeka, Kansas elementary school that had been forcibly integrated a few years earlier. I talked to my Grandfather, a proud Kansas Republican about the Civil War in those years. My first conversation on the subject came up when I asked him if it was true what my 5th Grade teacher said about US Grant – that he was a butcher of men. Did my Grandfather ever have an opinion about that.

I’ve been a Republican for a lot more of my adulthood than a Democrat or an Independent. I had some equally strong thoughts about your impression of me as summarized by your first email. I appreciate your backing off a little in this one.

I’d ask you to reread your comments and think on whether you haven’t been as hard on Democrats (or liberals) as you say they have been on Republicans. I don’t disagree with you about their characterization of Republicans. I resented the often childish analysis of Republicans by Dems when I graduated from College. We were all for the Rich. We hated the working man. We cozied up to racist southerners. etc. etc. etc.

Ronald Reagan hadn’t completely taken over the GOP back when I got my start. I was a Jerry Ford man. I did vote for Reagan the second time around over Walter Mondale. He’d been an effective president and he talked about the Republican Party being a “Big Tent.”

My snow sculpture is far more the message from someone who was effectively pushed out of the big tent after Reagan left the scene. I told a frequent critic of mine that I was a lot like a woman scorned by the man she had spent so many years with often being disparaged by others for not leaving him. I am a liberal in many ways. Lib the prefix is also found in libertarianism which is often regarded as a branch of the GOP

I’m really more of a moderate. Before we became all but extinct in the GOP we were called Rhinos – Republicans in Name only. The GOP ignored Reagan’s admonition and began challenging moderates at Primary time until the party was purified into something even my Grandfather wouldn’t have recognized.

He once told me that he’d voted for one Democrat in his life and it was the worst mistake of his life. Woodrow Wilson had promised to keep America out of war and, as my Grandfather said, “look what happened.”

My Grandfather told me, just as Bob Dole told the nation in 1976 as Ford’s VP candidate in his debate with Mondale , that Democrats started all the wars. That comment would get you laughed off stage today. BTW my Grandfather ended up volunteering to fight in WW 1 and was awarded a passel of medals so he was no chickenhawk like so many of today’s GOP neocons.

The stars and bars are a great piece of American History both during the Civil war and post war. There are tens of millions of white southerners and I’m sure the flag means a great many things to a great many of them. For the few unreconstructed racists still living I’m sure it has strong racial overtones. For most however it is just a symbol of some sort of us against the northerner’s attitude.

Even so older folks in the South aren’t letting go easily. Two years ago a poll of white Mississippians showed that 49% of those claiming to be Republicans wanted interracial marriage to go back to being illegal. With attitudes like that the stars and bars will continue to catch flack for some time.

I’ve thought long and hard about coming back into the GOP again. I’m no different, or little different, from what I was when I left.

I’m willing to permit abortions (just as Reagan was) a fact which got me called a “baby killer” and a “mass murderer” worse than Hitler Mao and Joe Stalin combined.

I have a deep fascination with science and am repelled by those who say that there is no evidence worth taking seriously that humankind is causing global warming.

I understand that socialism is part of the modern world and that it is being conflated with communism by a lot of lazy people.

I don’t like getting poked in the eye by historically ignorant hucksters like Rush Limbaugh any more than you like my sticking you in the eye with the suggestion that you may be suspect.

In fact, I made no such eye poking suggestion. An elephant waving the stars and bars is open to a lot of interpretations besides “Republicans are racist.” Hell, I resented that accusation when I was a Republican in the Nixon and Reagan Era. But the GOP is pushing a lot of laws today that are highly reminiscent of the old southern legislatures laws to curtail the black vote.

I’m best known politically in Duluth for raising hell over the Red Plan. For the record I couldn’t care less if the voters had given the Red Plan their seal of approval. My beef is that they were denied that chance.

If my political party loses a fair election I’ve got no beef with the implementation of the other guy’s platform. That’s democracy.

There is not a single thing you’ve said that could not be addressed intelligently and dispassionately. In fact, that is how I think they should be discussed. I do not see the world as coming to an end. Unfortunately that attitude doesn’t help get voters off their butts to vote. That is why there is so much hyperbole in politics. Fear gets people to the polls.

I think of myself as a basically rational guy stuck in a twilight zone of paranoia. I’d like to get a little of the LSD out of politics and maybe just a little of John C. Calhoun’s state’s rightism out of the GOP. I’m a Lincoln man myself. I want my elephant back from Confederacy.


To which I added a post script.

PS. ********, you might be gratified to hear that most people don’t have the faintest idea what my current sculpture is all about – even the ones who can tell its an elephant carrying the old confederate flag.

Now about my claim that Lincoln was a Liberal. He started out as a Whig. The Whig’s most important political policy for a couple decades was Federal investment in national infrastructure. That required taxes. The Democrats vociferously disagreed and the Democrats of the South were most insistant in limiting the taxation which would build canals, roads and railroads. Their economy was held in the grip of plantion owners who were heavily leveraged by banks. The last thing they wanted to do was pay taxes and even now the South has done its best to protect the rich from paying taxes. They have preferred sales taxes over income taxes which are regressive. They also lean on property taxes which go to municipalities so that the rich get their money back in local schools and the poor live with threadbare public accommodations. They are great proponants of flat taxes and abhor the notion of a progressive tax which they flog not for its fairness but for the safer accusation that they are riddled with astronomical numbers of loopholes and incomprehensible rules.

So Lincoln wanted Federal spending and the South regarded it as unproductive excessive wasteful government. Golly the Republican party of today has abandoned Lincoln and taken up the ancient Southern views he so opposed. That is one argument made in this new book which was mentioned in Sullivan’s Daily Dish today.

As my friend Mel said the old timers of the South made a shrewd bet that they could maintain their views in the once hated Republican Party when the GOP under Goldwater and Nixon pursued the “southern strategy.” Having joined the party the new order began systematically purging moderates and turning itself into a dogmatically southern party. Today these age old southern policies are being pushed by folks like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker because the South has completely insinuated itself into the Party of Lincoln. Lincoln is no longer even a totem for this new party. I suspect the new movie Lincoln has been an unwelcome reminder of what the party once was to these new Southerners of the North.

Lincoln was not dogmatic. Lincoln was an agnostic. Lincoln was a great proponent of science. Lincoln came round to a very liberal view of what was fair for the colored population even while he was at a complete loss as to how to coexist with them.

When Pat Robertson of the PTL Club ran for President back in the 80’s he told his followers at Minnesota caucuses not to identify themselves as born agains lest they not be elected to the State Convention. It was a stealth campaign. They did not take over the party immediately but they had an impact. It was the first State Convention I attended where hospitality suites did not pass out alcoholic beverages. At the time I likened the newcomers to the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Today the few souls whose bodies have not been snatched by neoconism, or pro life rigidity or flat taxation or anti immigrant hysteria or fear of communism and gun confiscation remain strangely mute. They are the party elders that Sarah Palin heaps so much contempt on. Frankly, they deserve it. They wear their flag lapels and hope for a sanity that is under assault by hyperbole and primary.

I stayed in the Party with one excursion to Independent status from 1972 when the GOP had a pro choice platform until about 2002 or 04 when I ran against Tom Huntley for the legislature as a Republican. By 2006 I went to my first of four DFL precinct caucuses where I found myself voting happily for a great many rational platform planks. And for Godsakes the DFLers liked Abraham Lincoln.

The GOP has turned on Lincoln’s liberality. They have turned on Reagan’s Big Tent. They are currently turning on America itself in preference to the dogmatic Southern pursuit of small government.

I think its time I go back to play the little Lincoln burr under their stars and bars saddle.

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