Netflix has a popular TV show called “Orange is the New Black.” Have you seen the Republican Party’s new TV show this fall? It’s something I call “Old Is the New New.” And unlike “Orange is the New Black” – which is totally scripted, “Old Is the New New” is the realest of reality shows.
Look no further than the 2016 Republican presidential debates. The fourth such debate took place a few days ago. Several Republican candidates for president loudly and passionately expressed their deep desire to – stop me if you’ve heard this before – repeal Obamacare a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act. That’s not a new idea, it’s an old one. Donald “Great Wall of Mexico” Trump actually said aloud what many members of the Republican base have been thinking for decades: that America is morally, socially, and financially justified in deporting the 11,000,000 undocumented immigrants who are currently living here in the shadows. That isn’t a new idea, it’s as old as dirt. Marco Rubio – a talented politician with a long, sordid history of repeatedly co-mingling political funds with his own personal finances – declared that the best way for America to build an economy designed to last is to slash taxes for corporations and businesses to 14% across the board. With a straight face, Rubio added that the Dodd-Frank Act is utterly destructive to Wall Street and the banking and investment industries contained therein – and that it must be repealed immediately so that American capitalism can flourish. Translation: let’s allow the 1% to further pillage this great nation of its wealth with impunity. Let them do what they do without oversight, penalty, or even a raised eyebrow. Senator Rubio, your idea isn’t new, it’s prehistoric. That notion was all the rage during the height of the Roman Empire. I would refer you to what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Mark 12:17 : “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render to God what is God’s.” But for Rubio, the first part of that morsel of wisdom would be, “Render unto Wall Street that which is Wall Street’s.”
Is that it? Is that the best you’ve got? I thought the Republican Party was the party of ideas. That certainly used to be the case.
Dr. Ben Carson believes that we all live in a post-racial America. Do you know what that means? No? Please allow me to tell you. Carson is championing the most preposterous of the Grand Old Party’s social falsities – that racism actually doesn’t exist. As a con, it’s as old as Father Time. To the good doctor and his followers, racism is a myth: a massive, institutional guilt trip established and maintained by the liberal media, hippies, the Democratic Party, Hollywood, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Great Pumpkin, and anyone else stupid enough to think or suggest that everyone should be treated equally. Therein lies the ironies. The same party that has called the first black president in American history a communist, a socialist, an imperialist, a racist, a half-breed, a secret Muslim, the great taker of guns, the destroyer of 2nd Amendment rights, the appeaser-in-chief, and the illegitimate leader of the free world suddenly pins its hopes and dreams of taking its country back to another black man? Wow! I am flabbergasted that the GOP’s new frontrunner is a man who is hailed as a hero by conservatives primarily because he seems to despise President Obama, and seizes upon every opportunity to criticize Obama for doing the very things Carson knows he himself is unqualified to do. The Southern strategy – using racism as the means of manipulating your political base into voting for the party’s platform – used to be the domain of the Democrats/Dixiecrats. But the Republicans have taken old, dog-whistle politics to dizzying depths. Carson and Trump are Southern strategy enthusiasts. They apparently believe that if it worked for Richard Nixon in 1968, it could work for them in 2016. And they’re right. Pun fully intended.
The new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, said weeks ago that if he were elected to that post, he would do things differently. He said that the current state of Congressional gridlock was unacceptable. He said he wanted to get legislation passed. Days after being made the new Speaker, Ryan changed his tune. He stated emphatically that meaningful immigration reform was a non-starter. He won’t rule out shutting down the government, either. That’s from the same man who recently proposed legislation to turn Medicare into a voucher program for next-generation seniors. Mr. Speaker, lying to the American people isn’t new. It’s just dishonest and self-destructive.
“Orange Is The New Black” is a comedy-drama set in a prison. Washington, D.C. operates like a prison.
In a country hungry for renewal and reconciliation, all the GOP seems interested in is repeal and recalcitrance. Old isn’t the new new, Republicans. Disingenuousness is as old as dirt… and twice as dusty.