You are no doubt familiar with the late Rodney Dangerfield’s piteous complaint, “I don’t get no respect.” It appears more and more to me that the current Republican Party has become the Rodney Dangerfield of politics. Here in the U.S. we are often told we must respect one another, and we often hear someone say, “I respect your opinion, you should respect mine,” and so on. I have increasingly found it impossible to respect much of what I hear from Republicans.
For example, when a Republican doubts the reality of climate change, or that it is partly due to human activity, and cites the biblical story of the flood as an example of climate change, I “don’t give it much respect.” Why should I when I know that virtually 98% of the world’s scientists who study such things have determined that climate change is happening and in fact is partly due to human activity? Knowing this how do you respect a Senator’s claim that global warming is one of the worst lies fed to the public?
What respect is due someone who invents an oxymoron like “legitimate rape,” and claims the female body somehow rejects the sperm of rapists, or the somewhat related idiotic claim that a baby as the result of a rape is something “that God intended.” How about Paul Ryan’s recent speech in which he said he wants a society where abortion is not only illegal but not even considered? I venture to say there has probably been no society on earth where abortion has not been considered and most probably practiced, nor will there ever be such a society. This is just babbling nonsense and is not worthy of respect.
When a Republican claims that a particular Democratic political group consists of communists, or another claims that a dozen members of the Harvard Law Faculty are communists, you don’t even have to check to know it is nonsense and not worthy of respect.
Similarly, when a Republican candidate for the Vice-Presidency claims foreign policy experience because she can see Russia from her front porch are we to respect such a claim? When the same person refers to Africa as a country, is that deserving of respect? When a Republican candidate for President chooses as his running mate an obviously unqualified, essentially “Air head” as his running mate does that deserve respect? If so, I cannot see why. That is my not even very carefully considered opinion as it is so patently obvious. You can respect it or not.
Am I to respect his opinion when a Republican Congressman claims that trying to limit the magazine capacity of firearms might lead to polygamy, polyandry, or even beastiality? What respect is due Michele Bachmann’s statement: "And what a bizarre time we're in, when a judge will say to little children that you can't say the pledge of allegiance, but you must learn that homosexuality is normal and you should try it." Here’s Mike Huckbee on energy: We ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade."How about the astute Mitt Romney: ''He [Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.''
It would be easy to go on with this, but you might say these are just extremists in the Republican Party or mere slips of the tongue or whatever. It doesn’t matter what they are as by and large no matter how idiotic or absurd they are the Republican Party has not refuted them or withheld support for them. Furthermore, should we respect a Party that deliberately planned to withhold all support for our President, and did that, even though it demonstrably damaged our country? For that they do not deserve, nor should they expect any respect.
Far more importantly, are we expected to respect the Party that deliberately lied us into a completely illegal, unconstitutional, and unnecessary “war,” that resulted in the deaths of thousands and thousands of people, that approved of and used criminal torture, that made billions by war profiteering, and that turned so much of the world against us?
The problem with respect is that once you lose it, it is difficult if not impossible to regain it. Try as they might I doubt the Republican Party, as presently constituted, will manage to regain it in the near future. In any case, given their behavior of the past few years “they don’t get no respect” from me, and they don’t deserve it from anyone else.