I know you and I don't see eye to eye on many things. We hang out with different crowds, we listen to different music, we have different interpretations of pretty much every event that has ever happened from the Big Bang onwards—but I'm worried about you. We, the whole of non-Republican America, are worried about you. Heck, I even know people in other countries that are worried about you.
You can be forgiven for Sarah Palin. I know that was mostly McCain's fault, and you didn't have a lot of say in that. His staff looked around for someone who they thought could better appeal to the base, and that's who they came up with. You should have been insulted by that, but I'll at least grant that it wasn't your decision to make, it was his.
But that was 2008, and this is 2012. And the decisions you've been making this time around are entirely up to you, and, well ... let's just say that most of the rest of us are pretty disappointed in you right now.
Your first serious non-Palin flirtation of this election cycle was with Michele Bachmann. Really? You could choose from among the ranks of the entire conservative movement, and you said "yeah, Michele Bachmann, I guess." I don't mean to be cruel, but that's when most of us realized that this little ideological obsession of yours had turned into a full-fledged, self-destructive addiction. You'd gone and cracked, right then and there. I realize that you have to work with the candidates that present themselves, and not the ones you'd actually choose on your own, but Michele Bachmann was already known far and wide as, well, a crazy person. She's Palin, after Palin drank an entire bottle of whiskey and drove her car into the side of a DMV office. She doesn't have political beliefs so much as she has spasms; everything she disagrees with is elevated to the level of America-killing communist apocalypse. There's no volume control on that knob. Her sole area of expertise is in the area of hand-waving panic over things she knows nothing about: Ask her for the barest details and she's dumb as a post.
So fine, that was the first one. First loves are often not well-planned things, though; there's some leeway there. Let's look at the rest of your candidates.
No, let's just pause there for a moment. Rick. Effing. Perry.
You're pulling our legs, right?
Let's all remember that it was your punditry, your own establishment figures, that pushed hard to get Rick Perry in the race. This wasn't a case of a candidate foisting themselves upon you, this is a guy you actually picked to represent conservatism. Holy Freaking Hell, Republicans, what is that about? Let's look at the attributes he brings to the campaign trail. First: dumb as a post. I know I just said that about Bachmann, but Perry forced us all to reconsider that, because compared to Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann looks like the freaking Einstein of conservatism. You know, if you folks believed in atoms and such. If Bachmann is as dumb as a post, then Rick Perry is as dumb as the dirt you dug out of the ground to make the hole to put the post in. He has an I.Q. 10 points lower than composted leaves. We're talking about a guy whose convictions run so very deep that, on a good day, he's lucky if he even remembers what they are.
Oh yeah, I'm going there. I don't care how bad a debater you are, if you say that as president the first thing you'll do is abolish these three federal agencies that are wrecking the country, but you can't actually remember what the hell they are, you are stone-cold stupid.
Which brings up the second possibility: That if you can't remember these three things you earnestly believe in, perhaps you don't actually believe anything at all, and are just saying whatever your handlers told you to say. I have to admit, that might make for a better representative of conservatism: It worked out just fine for George W. Bush. Bush never cared about a damn thing, he just left everything to Cheney, or Rumsfeld, or Rove. Economy? Yeah, whatever. War with who? Sure, let's go for it. Freedomz and stuff.
Make no mistake here, I haven't ever forgiven you for Bush. Listening to that dimwit speak for five minutes should have convinced you what a mistake it would be to let that barely functioning manchild play with the entire free world like it was his personal Jenga game, and his first few public appearances were when you and I parted ways for-freaking-ever. But Perry, now? Rick Perry, who is the dumber version of George Bush? The less principled version? The less eloquent version? If that's who your leading pundits wanted in the race, if that's the be-all, end-all conservative savior (emphasis on the end-all, I guess), then who is it going to be after eight more years? A goddamn vase full of geraniums?
It makes you look bad. It makes you look dumb. It makes you look like, well, like a party so thoroughly detached from their mental capacities that they would actually look up to a guy like Rick Perry as being their brain trust.
So Rick Perry launched himself with a fanfare, but was last seen plummeting back through the atmosphere, hair-shield glowing red from the heat, his last words a sheepish "oops." Bold move, there, and so Herman Cain is your next big thing. Let's just skip the whole part about him possibly being a sexual predator. I think you're probably wrong to dismiss those allegations: The list of politicians who have repeatedly denied such-and-such only to be thoroughly disgraced when such-and-such was proven to be true is at this point a very, very long one, and I think your heart is going to be broken on this, but let's talk about something less contentious. Let's talk about "9-9-9" for a minute, shall we?
You know what one of those 9s stands for? A national sales tax. Now, he explicitly points that out during every single goddamn debate, so if you didn't know that, it's time for a whole separate conversation, so I'm going to assume that you, everyone in the Republican base, are fully aware of it.
Let's reflect on that. The one absolute in the modern Republican party, the one and only principle, the single Great Rule of Modern Conservatism that may never be breached, on penalty of dark, unspeakable Cthulhu-administered punishments, is no new taxes. Or old taxes. Or half-new, half-old taxes. No taxes of anything, ever. If you raise taxes, Zombie Reagan will rise up from the grave and punch you straight in the mouth. If you even talk about raising taxes, members of your party will start digging up Zombie Reagan so that he can get a good head start.
So here comes Mr. Pizza Executive Guy, and the lynchpin of his entire brilliant non-functional monster-deficit-creating economic plan is to institute a nine percent national sales tax on every damn thing you buy, ever. From cars to carrots, you're going to pay a new tax of nine cents on every dollar, in addition to all the sales taxes you might pay now. In exchange for that, you get the grand deal of also paying a nine percent income tax no matter what your current tax bracket. (Don't make enough to pay taxes? You do now, suckers.) For everyone but the top of the income scale, it's a huge increase in taxes. And the less you make (are you retired? unemployed? gainfully employed, but simply not rich?), the worse off you are.
Here's my question. How is it that the party that would rather put all of government through a wood chipper than raise taxes one thin dime finds themselves enthralled with a guy proposing the biggest, most regressive, most intrusive possible new tax? Nine percent of every purchase you ever make, you're not only fine with that, but you clap and shout and say "hell yeah, sign all of us small-government, keep-yer-hands-off-our-wallet conservatives up for that!"
What, are you stupid? The current choice you're trying to mull over is between a possible sexual assaulter who wants to institute a nine percent national tax on everything you buy, and a guy so dumb that he'd actually sign onto that tax as a good idea if someone slipped him a little blue notecard telling him so.
That's not a political party. That's a alcohol-fueled dare gone horribly wrong.
This is what I'm trying to tell you: Republican Party, you've fallen. You've fallen, and you can't get up.
You used to have "intellectuals" in the party. Sure, maybe they still said loathsome things, the rest of us thought, but your pundit ranks were filled with people who could at least sound intelligent. William F. Buckley could thesaurus the crap out of anyone, when he put his mind to it. Now who have you got? Glenn Beck? Watching the slow slide of George Will into irrelevance is just sad. I hear tell he used to be considered one of the stars: Now his columns are just wretched, maudlin little things as he desperately struggles to compete with the rest of the one-dimensional, tolerate-no-dissenters herd.
You used to think Reagan was a great leader. Now you hate his actual record, because in addition to the ideological stuff he also had the barest possible sliver of pragmatism in him, and that means that looking back on him he looks like a traitor. He raised taxes a few times, which to conservatism today is a much, much worse crime than crashing the economy or shutting the government down every once in a while just for the pissy ideological hell of it.
You used to nominate politicians who could at least pretend they knew what the hell they were talking about when they got behind a podium. Now it's a pageant for the absurd. The craziest, meanest statements get applauded, and any hint of compromise gets you booed, and "working with Democrats," whatever the hell that means, given that Democrats make up, at any given point in time, about half the government, gets you booted out of government entirely. I get it, it's primary season, and everyone has to appeal to the greatest possible crowd, but why does the "greatest possible crowd" so badly want a son-of-a-bitch to be president?
Ron Paul was asked whether a sick person who could not pay for treatment should die. Ron Paul is actually somewhere in the middle of the current GOP field, which should tell you right there just how generally kooky the "field" has become, but he wasn't willing to say it outright. The base, though, was. The base was all for "letting him die." Now, I have to ask: Did you really mean that? Are you really saying that in your version of America, if you don't show up at the hospital with checkbook in hand, they should dump you back on the curb again? What the hell, Republicans? What sort of America are you after, here? Or is this just another case of pandering gone wild, of another mostly drunken response to the current ideological wet T-shirt contest that passes for debate these days?
Oh, there are other choices, of course. A lot of Republicans are smitten with Newt Gingrich, who was last seen resigning his political position in scandal and disgrace. That's forgivable, now, because compared to the other people onstage he looks like a damn Rhodes Scholar (that's a compliment, for you Republicans that don't know the reference).
Rick Santorum, whose sole purpose in life is to piss and moan and scold the morals of everyone around him? Bless you, Republicans, for still not being quite crazy enough to go down that path. I'll grant you that one. No overzealous Church Lady as president, please.
A few other also-rans in there, and then there's Mitt Romney. That's what you're stuck with, you know. That's your best case scenario. You can date whoever you want, you can have crazy multi-candidate ideological orgies of meanness and bile and raise-your-taxes "tax cut" plans, but in the end, you've got Mitt Romney waiting for you. Oh, Republicans. Oh, oh my.
Mitt Romney is the conventional politician in the race. The other candidates are motivated by some ideology, of some type (save, perhaps, the empty hamster ball that is Rick Perry) but good old unreliable, blow-with-the-winds Romney has no recognizable ideological underpinnings to speak of. As a governor he did stuff that gives you all chest pains. He'll happily denounce every last bit of it, though, if you will just cut him some slack and elect him as your Conservative God and King. And once that's done, you and I both know that he'll flip right back on at least half of it, the very moment he's got the last needed primary vote in hand.
That, my friends, is good old fashioned politics. Stand for nothing, say anything, get elected, spend all your time trying to get reelected. It's not pretty, but at least you know where Mitt Romney is coming from: his own 100 percent pure self-interest.
I've got two things to admit to you, my Republican friends. Mitt Romney is the guy that we non-Republicans fear most, from your side, because his ability to take all sides of all issues means that, come the general election, he'll be able to plausibly claim some brand new public-friendly stances and nobody will really be able to prove he's lying about it. Hell, Mitt Romney changes positions between breakfast and lunch; by the time the general election rolls around, he might be tying a bandana around his head and proclaiming himself the second coming of Jimi Hendrix.
But Romney is also the guy that scares us all the least, because his inability to follow any distinct ideology means that he may be the only candidate, among your current crop, who would not destroy the entire goddamn economy, nation and planet if he managed to get elected. Would it suck? Oh, sure. Would he govern as a conservative? Absolutely. But he would not be nearly as likely to nuke the wrong country because he couldn't remember the name of the country that he originally wanted to nuke, or to institute nationwide Christian Sharia in an attempt to protect us all from homosexual Muslims, or grind the entire U.S. economy into a North Korea-like state of enforced government incompetence coupled with rampant, unapologetic cronyism. We might nosedive into another Great Depression on Romney's watch, sure, but if Bachmann became president I give it exactly three months before we're using human ears as a form of currency. Sure, maybe Eric Cantor would say "you know what would be fun? Let's throw every senior citizen in America into a giant pit full of bears, and see what happens," but Mitt Romney is the guy who would at least think about it for a few minutes before giving his thumbs up. That's about all the credit I can give him, which is, I admit, not much.
That said, does Mitt Romney represent your party? Well, no. Of course he doesn't. We all know that. The other guys represent your now crazy-ass party, which is why you'd rather go with the national sales tax sex-assault guy or the resigned-in-disgrace guy or the guy whose staff counts it as a good day when he remembers to put on pants for his debate appearances. They're all loudly fighting for your attention, with Mitt Romney being the guy in the back of the room that you are trying not to make eye contact with, because you just know he's going to ask you to dance and you do not want to be seen with him.
Here's your choice, Republicans. Your party is currently so effing crazy that only crazy people can find traction as your leaders, people who advocate for letting sick people die, and raising taxes on everyone but the rich, and maybe coming up with a reason to bomb China just because that's the only country they can easily name. It's that, or the big, insincere jackass that you rejected in the last presidential race for being, well, a big insincere jackass.
If that's the best you can do, Republicans, than you need help. Not for you: Don't get us wrong, here, we don't really give a flying crap about you. But your destructive behavior is hurting all of the rest of us, too.
You can't just set up the ideological equivalent of a meth lab and expect us, your neighbors, not to notice. It's dangerous to us too, you know. The crazier your party gets, the less clout we have trying to clean up the rest of politics. Nobody can pay attention to how crooked Wall Street is or how fouled-up our national infrastructure has become because they're all gawking, slack-jawed, at you, wondering what kind of half-assed stunt you're going to pull next. You're shutting down the FAA, but we have to fly on those planes too, you know. You've been blocking judges, sure, but now you've got Newt Gingrich standing up in public and vowing he's going to eliminate the entire 9th Circuit rather than listen to those dirty rats for one more minute—but there are still court cases that need deciding, you know. When your top assholes screwed with the credit rating of the entire United States in an effort to get a few more tax breaks for people already swimming in money, it wasn't just Republicans that it hurt. It hurt all of us.
In short, you've been screwing with all of us, and it's time for a damn intervention. You need to get your act together. You need to look in the mirror and decide what the hell it is you actually stand for. If it's just cutting taxes on the rich and to hell with everything else on the planet, that's fine, but do us a favor and actually campaign on that, will you? None of this death-panel, socialists-everywhere, unions-are-coming-for-your-children conspiracy mush. You are embarrassing us all. You're turning politics into a reality show, you're turning government into an institution for sociopaths, and you're turning your own supposed ideology into a spinning carnival ride that makes everybody who even watches it puke.
The rest of us don't care at this point who you nominate. You want Romney? Go for it. You want someone else? Fine, whatever. All we are asking is that, as the rest of us are forced to watch you go through this elaborate courting ritual, crazy person after crazy person, abusive assholes and vapid dimwits, you need to at least show a little shame. Recognize your destructive behavior. Accept that you can't get through this on your own: You need help. You need comedians, in order to point out that you're fooling around with crazy people. You need the press, to point out that some of them are outright liars, and others are quite possibly crooks. You need experts, to point out that they're stealing from your bank accounts, not just ours. You need non-conservatives laughing at you. Oh yes, yes you do. You need us.
We are the only thing that stands between you and your slow, sad slide into the fantasy world you've created, a world full of communists, an upside-down land where tax hikes become tax cuts and vice versa, every damn time, a land where a healthcare reform effort that was modeled on previous Republican pipe dreams is now the most horrible scary leftist thing you've ever heard of. You need someone to slap your face, good and hard, and say a national goddamn sales tax is not what Republicans are supposed to stand for, you dumbass. You need someone to grab you by the shoulder and ask you, are you sure you want to go home with this guy who, according to a bunch of other people, you probably shouldn't even be left alone with?
You need someone who will look at you, and look at Rick Perry, and look back to you and say really? Really, this is what you've been reduced to?
This is a long, long walk of shame you are on, my Republican friends, and there is a comically regressive 9-9-9 tax plan stuck to the bottom of your shoe, and everyone is looking at you with the sort of looks that say they don't know whether to just feel sorry for you or finally call someone to have you carted off for your own good. And we're thinking that maybe even if you end up with Mitt Romney, maybe that's not so bad: He doesn't love you, he doesn't respect you, hell, he barely even knows you, but at least we know he probably won't blow up your house for the insurance money. Well, we're pretty sure, anyway. Probably.
This is an intervention. Seek help. Seek a new savior. Hell, do anything: Just don't make us watch this anymore.