For a century and a half the Republican Party has been symbolized by the elephant.
“As characters,” says Wikipedia, “elephants are most common in children’s stories, in which they are generally cast as models of exemplary behaviour. They are typically surrogates for humans with ideal human values.”
Two years ago a Republican President whipped up a mob of hooligans and paramilitary fantasists who fought their way into the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the government by force—an act of treason, no matter how you slice it.
Ever since, the erstwhile Party of Lincoln has pulled out every rhetorical stop, employing its unequaled powers of bafflegab, to cast this crime—the result of a conspiracy, let us not forget—as “legitimate political discourse.”
Having failed to overthrow the government entirely, the Party now simply squats in Congress like a dog in the manger. If they cannot run the whole show, they will take whatever steps are necessary to make sure that no show goes on.
So much for “exemplary behavior” reflecting “ideal human values.” Obviously the time has come for some sort of adjustment, or perhaps a complete reconsideration.
Old traditions should not be overthrown lightly. Is there a way that the elephant could continue to represent the Party, but in a manner more consistent with the times?
There is such a way, but the Party would never accept it. The old, familiar pachyderm actually represents today’s Grand Old Party well—with certain stipulations: the elephant in question is presumed to be a male, with an aberrant hormonal condition.
Periodically, even normally-docile male elephants experience a dramatic increase in certain hormones, giving rise to a condition called musth. At such times formerly placid individual elephants become highly aggressive and violent. They may turn on their keepers, trample villages, or even attack rhinoceri.
However, because this phenomenon is intimately linked with the species’ reproductive behavior, musth cannot be studied, spoken of, or even acknowledged by Party members. Not in public, anyway. Who knows what bizarre shenanigans these people might get up to behind closed doors? Judging from their collective rap sheets, we’re not ruling out anything.
Thus we are forced, reluctantly, to propose replacement. Our Starving Artiste has proposed the Komodo Dragon. Let us investigate its suitability.
The world’s largest lizard, Varanus komodoensis, to give its Latin name, is native only to a few islands in Indonesia. Their tongues are long and forked, they have glands in their jaws which secrete toxins, and they have have big mouths full of large serrated teeth. Because those teeth are mostly covered in gingival tissue, their saliva, when feeding, is tinged with blood.
Komodo Dragons are decidedly carnivorous. Mostly they eat a Javan deer called the rusa. They are not what you’d call fastidious; they also eat carrion. Also, up to ten percent of their diet consists of their own species—they are cannibals; they eat their young.
Well, then, that’s settled. No need to pursue the matter any further.
Still, a problem remains: if we go off on our own, and henceforth represent Republicans as forked-tongued, cannibalistic lizards, new readers of this paper will likely become confused. Thoreau wrote that “any man more right than his neighbor constitutes a majority of one.” Only a fool would presume, though, that the world has been paying attention and will soon fall in line.
In a properly-functioning world this would not be an issue. Republicans could spout whatever nonsense they like, and, come election time, suffer the consequences. Our sainted Founding Fathers, let us recall, bequeathed to us a magical system designed to select the best from among us to gather in Congress, there to convert our hopes and desires into a secular paradise here on Earth. [Here we pause to lock up the office firearms and disconnect the gas stove, lest we give in to despair. – The Ed.]
Last night’s State of the Union address—or, rather, the response to it—provides all the evidence one would require to make the case that the danged thing is busted.
“In 2009,” the New York Times reported, “it was considered a travesty when Representative Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, shouted ‘you lie’ at President Barack Obama during a joint address to Congress. Back then, Mr. Wilson was formally rebuked by the whole House.
“Times have changed. Republican lawmakers shouted both ‘liar’ and ‘bullshit’ at parts of Mr. Biden’s speech, and no one appeared shocked. After the speech, Representative Andy Ogles of Tennessee defended yelling out ‘it’s your fault’ as Mr. Biden described the fentanyl crisis, telling reporters it was ‘a visceral response.’”
The Times is aware of the GOP’s decades-long decline in decorum, but it is blind to its own “bothsideism.” It persists in treating the Republican Party as if it were actually interested in governance, rather than jeers, catcalls, and trolling.
Jean-Paul Sartre died in April, 1980. Ronald Reagan was running for President, and Newt Gingrich was an obscure first-term Congressman. Sartre wrote the following passage, about anti-Semites, in 1946. Substitute “Republican” for “anti-Semite,” and see if he didn’t have these people pegged:
“Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly, since he believes in words. The anti-Semites have the right to play. They even like to play with discourse for, by giving ridiculous reasons, they discredit the seriousness of their interlocutors. They delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert. If you press them too closely, they will abruptly fall silent, loftily indicating by some phrase that the time for argument is past.”
The sooner the press stops playing their game, the sooner it will end.