I've always had a friendly yet frustrating relationship with a member of my extended family who has been a life-long Republican. The only time she deviated from a straight ticket punching the Republican candidates in her long voting life was her vote against Nixon. She called him "creepy," which at the time, was the strongest language a lady of her culture and breeding could use in public and around children like myself.
But that same lady, now a dignified matriarch in her 90's, uses language far more descriptive when describing the current GOP. "These are not Republicans," she tells me. "These are damned thugs, piece of shit thieves and liars."
Her crumbling started with the out of control spending to reward corporate donors that she defined as "Halliburton bridges to nowhere." Every piece of pork in the budget was a gift to some big business abuser and she grumbled out loud that the small businesses the GOP once swore to protect were being taken out by Walmarts and other big box donors to the GOP. "This is NOT my Republican party," she complained every time another small business went under because it couldn't compete with its corporate-sponsored rivals.
She was also uncomfortable with the huge tax break given to the rich. As a wealthy woman this is significant because she always complained about how much she had to pay in taxes. But she also was angry that people like me had so much deducted from my paychecks. "I can afford the extra hit. People who are supporting families on your kind of salary cannot. That isn't right."
But what started the downward slide for her was Katrina. She believes in America, what it represents to the rest of the world, the whole concept of a Democracy, a country where all people are created equally, even if it doesn't always work out that way in real life. She believes in the idea that hard work is rewarded and we take care of our own. Katrina put a lie to all that. It exposed Bushco as an entity who could have done something but did not. The final straw was Bush playing guitar at a GOP fundraiser while bodies remained unclaimed in the devastation of New Orleans, especially the often played tragic sight of that poor woman who sat dead in a wheelchair outside the superdome for days. If anything began the dismantling of the Bushco compassionate conservatism myth, it was that dead woman in a wheelchair. "He's out there raising millions of dollars and there are people dying just a few miles away from his neglect."
By the time she understood that she's been lied to about the reasons for invading Iraq, the cover-up and protection of pedophiles, and especially the swiftboating of veterans who actually served by those who did not, she was already seeing a naked emperor every time Bush showed up in the news. But it took Cheney saying how great things were going in Iraq...as the news scroll beneath him showed over 60 Americans killed in Iraq so far this month, for her to say the words she hadn't spoken since the 1960's: "I'm voting for the Democrats." There was no joy in her voice. Just acceptance of something that had to be done for the sake of a greater good.
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