The setting is the great beyond. The card players are Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
"Say fellows, did you read what David Brooks said about the Grand Old Party?" Reagan reaches for a jellybean.
"Well, I've got to say even though he works for that liberal Jew New York Times, he's a good man!" Nixon wipes sweat from his upper lip.
"I couldn't agree with him more," Ike says.
"How's that Mr. President?"
"I'll tell you how Ronnie. Ever since that gas bag Rush Limbaugh got the holy, holy treatment from Republicans our old party has, as Brooks said, become 'bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced.' They remind me of the old John Birch society."
"Let me just say I stand four square for Republican values, but these people are radicals. They're as destructive as the yippies and SDS. All they want to do is tear down government," Nixon pokes himself in the eye as he gestures.
"Well, you know boys, Old Tip and I didn't see eye to eye on things but we still took time to visit and you know we got things done." Reagan eats another jellybean.
"These damned fools who call themselves the Freedom Caucus don't know the first thing about freedom or the price so many have paid. It's like Brooks said, 'Self-expression is more valued than self-restraint and coalition building.' Think we could have won the peace if we didn't build coalitions or I couldn't find a way to work with Mongomery for crying out loud?" General Eisenhower stands and straightens his tie.
Nixon stands and almost salutes Ike. "I just want to put it out there, put it on the record so to speak, that I believe in the practice of politics, the whole enchilada. Politics is America and as American as the flag. These people are anti political. They don't know how to make a deal."
"Dick I've never doubted your ability to be a wheeler-dealer, so I'll give you credit on that. Brooks says this have it their own way "anti political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw dropping incompetence." He's right-jaw dropping incompetence. Hell, all you have to do is turn on C-SPAN and watch some of these damned fools. Brooks is right, the Freedom Caucus and the tea party are "insurgents, incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. If I could I'd bust them all to buck privates and make em spend the rest of their life cleaning latrines."
"Mr. President I want it clear that I am not in favor of these people being called Republican." Nixon mops his brow.
"Leave it to these people and everything we worked for will disappear. None of the three of us could pass their litmus test. They are not the Republicans we used to be. They should be thrown out on their asses."
The door of the card parlor opens and Tip ONeill enters,
"Hey Gents. I've been listening and all I can say is thank God that orange haired carnival barker is now calling himself a Republican. Dick, hand those cards to the General so he can cut the deck."
Meanwhile back here-Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan campaigned on and worked for ideas the Freedom Caucus and Tea Party right wing fringe now reject. Ideas like rebuilding slums, "eradicating racism," attacking poverty, income inequality, low cost housing, expansion of social security, equal pay regardless of sex, support for the UN, closer federal scrutiny of mergers, better anti trust enforcement, better SEC policies, protection of employment benefit programs, federal funds to train doctors and scientists, low rent programs, environmental protection, fair immigration and citizenship programs and occasionally even a tax increase.
Surprised? Either memory fails you or more than likely the restricted and partisan atmosphere of the last few years has made old fashioned Republican and conservative ideas look liberal. The same is true for Democrats as they, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, have become more centrist and business friendly. Conservatism has been drubbed and so has liberalism.
In old fashioned "politics" the nation has been moving right under corporate sponsorship. Sociologically the US has been fragmenting by income, education, gender and sexual identity, ethnicity and aspirations. It is harder to find the "old center" of the commonweal and as an aging democratic republic with a dysfunctional government and towering maintenance issues, we should find our way back to consensus, negotiation, pragmatic solutions and survival.
The first who get tossed out of my ship of state are the ideologues, zealots, numb skull egoists and narcissists.
EATING IN THE BARN
See you down the trail.