Saturday, November 15, 2014

The 25 Percent

I’m not going anywhere. I got a lot of family in Georgia, and besides, there’s plenty to love here—mountains, sea coasts, the change of seasons, not to mention all those wonderful things about the South as a whole, like collard greens.
            But dang—sometimes you just have to yearn for bluer pastures. The election returns have been officially dissected, and it turns out that our two bright young Democratic standard-bearers, Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, received “25 percent or less of the white vote.”
            Twenty-five percent or less. This is the great triumph of the Republicans—and all the greater because it absolutely defies comprehension. Somehow three-fourths of white voters in Georgia have become convinced that the Republican Party has their interests at heart. I’m calling it gullibility, pure and simple. These voters don’t know what the Republican agenda is; they’ve only listened to what the Republicans—and all the howler monkeys on Fox News—have said about Obama and those job-killing Democrats.
            Point is: Georgia’s politics, and politicians, are so damn depressing. (Thank you, General Assembly, for overwhelmingly passing Georgia’s “guns everywhere” bill this last session.) But as I look around, wondering where to run, I have to concede: it could be worse.
Wait. Let me clarify: the ideas, beliefs, opinions of Georgia’s politicians couldn’t be any worse. You don’t get any more benighted than a Tea Party trio like Congressmen Tom Graves, Phil Gingrey, and Paul Broun. It’s also true that when you declare that the theory of evolution is nothing but “lies straight from the pit of hell,” as Broun, a physician, did, you’re going to get a couple of mentions in the national media.
            For the most part, though, Georgia’s leaders have refrained from becoming nationally recognized emblems of Republican inanity. Not every state is so lucky. You’ve got Kentucky, for example, where beleaguered lefties have to watch Mr. Coal himself, soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, heap jowly scorn on the new climate agreement between the U.S. and China.
            Or Minnesota, which like Georgia has a lot going for it, but also has Michele Bachmann. Actually, Bachmann has decided to step away after eight years in Congress, but the damage to Minnesota, I’m afraid, is irreparable. Bachmann was in Washington plenty long to set a new record for Most Incredibly Stupid Things a Single Congressperson Could Possibly Utter Regardless of Tenure in Office. (“There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”)
Texas has got Ted Cruz, whose TV face time is out of all proportion to his predictable Tea Party dogma: anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, pro-deportation, anti-Obamacare, blah, blah, blah. But, then, Cruz wants to be president, so he needs to be using up a lot of oxygen, "energizing the base," etc. (I’m actually worried about Cruz. He’s got the face of a Baptist preacher with the smile of a snake-oil salesman . . . oh, well, you get my point.)
            Cruz is reason enough to keep out of Texas, but he’s not a complete crackpot. For that, we have to look to Oklahoma and Republican senator Jim Inhofe, who, incidentally, will take control of the Environment and Public Works Committee in January. His plan upon ascension? “I will do everything in my power to rein in and shed light on the EPA’s unchecked regulations.”
            Staking his claim to the title of World’s No. 1 Climate Change Denier, Inhofe wrote a book in 2012 called The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. You don’t have to read the whole thing; he offered a condensed version on a Christian radio program that same year: “God’s still up there. The arrogance of some people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is outrageous.”
            Yikes. Think I’ll just stay put.

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