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This diary is more of a question than an observation.

As far as folks on this site go, I'm definitely on the younger side of the spectrum. I started becoming somewhat politically aware around Bush II (I was just a few months too young to vote for Kerry in 2004), and I didn't really actually pay attention to political news until 2008 or so. Probably not the youngest reader here on DKos, but definitely in the younger bracket. What I'm getting at here is that for as long as I've known that politics is something that actually affects real people (instead of just being boring stuff that grownups talk about for God only knows what reason), the Republicans (and/or the conservatives in general, however you want to look at it) have been crazy, often seeming even actively malicious (which I really wish I couldn't say so glibly). And what I want to know is how long that's been the case.

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It's totally blatant now, of course. You've got voices in the House trying to defund our social safety net for what appears to be no reason other than spite. You've got all the various Wars (on Women, on Workers, on Voters, and so on) that folks here talk about more knowledgeably and more eloquently than I'll care to try. You've got whatever the hell the Tea Party is clamoring for (I honestly can't even tell anymore what they CLAIM they value). You've got obstruction for the sake of obstructionism and gridlock for the sake of gridlock. I'm not saying anything we're not all familiar with. It's balls-out obvious that the right wing seems, to our eyes, to just be trying to be as destructive and disruptive as possible. And from what I can remember, this isn't especially new. I mean, hell, before this, we had the Bush League, complete with all that that implies.

Greed accounts for a big part of it, of course. Greed and power issues. But I have a hard time fathoming being avaricious enough to, well, act the way the modern Republicans are acting, especially so consistently and openly—though I'm probably just naive. It really seems, though, that a lot of the ones in power aren't merely acting in their own self-interest . . . they seem like they're trying to be as mean-spirited as possible in the process.

Before I knew what politics really meant, back when I was just a kid, it was explained to me that the different parties just had different ideas about how to run the country, but they weren't really that different in the aggregate, and they had to work together to really do anything. That seems downright laughably naive now, of course, but I remind you that this was how it was explained to a young child with attention problems, so we really can't expect too much in-depth analysis from it. Still, there remains the concept of the loyal opposition, something that seems to be totally absent from today's political discourse.

How long has it been since we've had the loyal opposition in this country? You know, the party who disagrees with the party in power but who still, fundamentally, wants what's best for the country and its people? Did we ever have that? And if we did, what happened?

I'm proud to be liberal. I'm proud to vote a straight (D) ticket whenever I get the option. I'm proud to support progressive candidates and progressive policies. But I hate feeling like I don't have a choice in the matter, because The Other Side seems so far gone!

When I look at candidates for an election, I'm not just thinking "the Democrat agrees with my policies and my values far more than the Republican, so I will support him or her." I'm thinking "every Republican elected to public office is likely to be actively detrimental to our well-being as a society." And you know what? That frightens me to death! I don't want politics to be about The Good Guys (hooray, us!) and The Bad Guys (boo, them!). One, that's way too black-and-white for reasoned discourse (down that road lies Fox News, no?), and two, I don't want to think that anybody (or, being realistic, to think that even a sizable portion of the people) running the country is A Bad Guy! I know that I'm not always going to agree with the beliefs and actions of the whatever party I'm not a part of (be it D versus R or whatever the names may morph into, if that's a thing), but I want them to be the loyal opposition. I want to believe that they still have the best interests of our society and our people at heart, even if the specifics don't always align. And if we're being honest with ourselves, that's just plain not what we have today.

So, we come back to this. Did we ever have something like this, to a greater or lesser extent? In living memory, was it ever the case that the conservatives in power still seemed to have the common good in mind, even just a little? When did the crazy factor come out in such force—or is it just obvious now because now is when I'm looking, even though it's always been there? You're going to get your outliers in any era, I imagine . . . I'm talking specifically about the mainstream.

I know that the ideal of the loyal opposition isn't likely to be real, because it's just that, an ideal. But I'd like to know if it's always been so blatantly false, or if this is a decline that can be traced.

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