Another “Moderate” Gone
Upon Frederick’s Charles “Mac” Mathias’ death, I reported the surviving Charles “Chuck” Percy was left alone; the judgment came from my reporting days on Capitol Hill. Both senators were victims of the GOP rush to cleanse its ranks of moderates in Congress. They were not alone, but two Republicans I knew and interacted with.
They were joined this week by Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D); his father was a bulwark of the Democratic Party in my Washington years. The son resigned this week, declined to run in this year’s election. He led the polls by double numbers and his campaign treasury contained millions.
His explanation: he didn’t like serving in the Senate. He said it had become too partisan.
To prove his point Republican national chairman Michael Steele accused Mr. Bayh of fear, intimating the Hoosier and the rest of his party were scared from GOP candidate Scott Brown’s winning the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat, which had been occupied before by his brother, John F. Kennedy.
Democratic Senate wannabe Martha Coakley assumed it would come to her; she made little effort until the final days. She ran a lazy race. That much is fact; anything else must be considered speculation and rumor. Former seminary student Michael Steele knew the reality; he knowingly committed a venial sin, according to his church.
The GOP reaction exemplified what Senator Bayh was talking about. In my TheTentacle.com columns, I have been making the same point to increasingly deaf ears and blind eyes. Congress has reached the same state as the post-Civil War period when Republicans flagged Democrats with the bloody red flag, castigating Democrats as paving the way for the Confederacy.
In his totally moderate way, the Hoosier’s announcement was bipartisan: he cited Democrats as well as Republicans. He was absolutely true, starting with FDR, until Georgia’s Newt Gingrich staged a political revolution in Bill Clinton’s first presidential years. The tilt to the conservative Republican side started under Ronald Reagan and that’s when Chuck Percy and Mac Mathias were forced to retire.
A form of political alchemy causes Americans to vote against any status quo; they reacted against the GOP’s continuing exercise of power when George H.W. Bush succeeded Mr. Reagan; they put Mr. Clinton in the Oval Office. By general agreement, right and left, George W. Bush’s presidency is endorsed by a distinct minority.
The loss of power, and especially to African American Barack Obama, created a rage on the right. Subsequently, many Republican leaders called for strict adherence to specific standards for candidates to receive GOP funds. The Tea Party movement demands even more conservative positions.
As Senator Bayh pointed out, the Congress is in deadlock. Bills are preached and voted on – not in the public interest but for political purposes. For the brief months, almost a year, that the Democratic Senate’s 60 votes dominated, Republicans felt shut out. Very frustrated, they retaliated by tossing logic and public interest out the window.
What Evan Bayh’s withdrawal announcement strongly indicated: he does not believe November elections will make any difference in the Senate chamber’s yelling, screaming and personal attacks. And I agree.
We no longer exist as one nation, but a country separated into minority splinters: birth control, abortion, immigration, Second Amendment arguments and others. Behind every cause, there are thousands who yell and bellow they’re right.
The Great Seal of the United States is wrong: “E Pluribus Unum” means “out of many, one;” it was suggested by Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
This country is separated into so many pieces and parts that rival Humpty Dumpty’s that I wonder if any person or any circumstance can put them together again.
My despair was reflected by Sen. Evan Bayh’s withdrawal from the national scene the other day.