Every totalitarian regime needs a “Republican” party

[see update at the end of the post]

I have only marginally been keeping my eye on the unfolding drama in Wisconsin, where the Tea Party Republican governor, Scott Walker, is attempting to strip state workers of the right to collective bargain. Just when you think Republicans* can’t possibly sink any lower, someone puts them in power and, WHAM!

I’ve been trying not to get too worked up about the Tea Party, as I have more interesting things to work on and think about. But a note on James Fallows’ Atlantic Monthly blog informed me of yet another abuse of power by Republicans in Wisconsin. William Cronon, an historian whom I admire, is being targeted for intimidation by Republicans for having the temerity to criticize Walker and his henchmen. The hypocrisy of these so-called anti-government people trying to use the power of their position in government to get-even with a private citizen speaks for itself. Apparently, they care more about maintaining their influence than they do about their supposed principals. It’s that kind of thinking that is the fertile soil for totalitarian regimes. I can only hope that more moderate Republicans begin to fight back, to regain control of their party — I guess, what I am saying is that I hope “moderate Republican” hasn’t become an oxymoron.

Here’s a link to Professor Cronon’s account of the whole affair and his response to it.

*The reason I put “Republican” in quotes in the heading to the post is that I don’t intend this as an attack on all or necessarily even most of the people affiliated with that party. We can have reasonable debates about policies, as long as we work together to solve our problems. Increasingly, the right-wing of the Republican Party has been controlling the agenda for that “half” of our political spectrum. This group, the far right, is driven by self-righteousness and ignorance, a dangerous mixture only when they are given power. While it is not my intention to say that all Republicans are friends to fascism, if they stand by idly for the abuses of the extremists in their party, then they are complicit in those abuses.

Update: The New York Times is publishing an editorial about this affair on Monday, March 28, supporting William Cronon. They conclude the editorial with these comments:

A political fishing expedition through a professor’s files would make it substantially harder to conduct research and communicate openly with colleagues. And it makes the Republican Party appear both vengeful and ridiculous.

I would have to make one correction to this statement. It doesn’t make the Republican Party “appear” vengeful and ridiculous — It demonstrates that, in fact, the Republican Party IS vengeful and ridiculous.


One comment

  1. I had forgotten (as James Fallows points out) that Joe McCarthy was a Wisconsin senator. These people have no sense of historical irony.

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