As the last three weeks of spring term peter away in a haze of blurry Greek symbols, stale, thrice-microwaved Meetro lattes and crumpled GPC butts, I thought to take a more serious, academic turn in my columns. Establish a resonance of rigor. An interlocking network of intellectual meanderings which, when seen as a coherent whole, will dazzle and amaze you with their unity and craft. Think: unified field theory of political analysis. Hey, what else would you expect from a guy who spends his free hours researching naughty etymology?
So here’s the first of a few columns examining the history of the two major American parties, and whichever insane crackpot ones, like the American Communist Party, the Green Party, or the Libertarians, that tickle my fancy. I’ll also be developing the edges of a working lexicon with which to communicate with these strange, hive-minded creatures.
How could we not begin with our illustrious leaders, the wise, constant, responsible, patriotic men and women of the Grand Old Party, the Republicans? One must give greatness its due, after all.
The genesis of the party came on Feb. 28, 1854, in Ripon, Wis., when a group of abolitionist Free Soilers, Democrats and Whigs met to discuss their problems with the expansion of slavery into the Western territories in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed that year. Claiming to be the political descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party, they formally named themselves the Republicans at a state convention in Jackson, Mich., on July 6, 1854. In Senate elections that year the Republicans showed early glimmers of their political brilliance, winning 44 seats. The first Republican National Convention was in 1856, when Sen. John C. Fremont was chosen to be their presidential candidate. Fremont lost to Democrat James Buchanan, but they got it right the next time, nominating a pretty famous guy who happens to have been born on my birthday, Abraham Lincoln.
Since then the Republicans went south, literally as well as figuratively, first installing a race of half-human beasts, the Dixiecrats, to wrest the erstwhile Confederacy from the hands of the Democrats, then eventually choosing Garth Brooks and Billy Ray Cyrus to run as president and vice-president for the 1998 elections. OK, I made that part up, but aren’t you sick of the history part? I am! So, onward, then, to our deadly important, Colbertian work: the beginnings of a new encyclopedic dictionary of the American political landscape.
In earlier editions of this text, “patriot” and “American” were listed as synonyms, but subsequent research has shown that, technically, one needn’t support the president to be an “American,” causing the definition to shift somewhat. A “patriot” is an American who gives his or her unquestioning loyalty to our governmental leaders, provided they be Republican. To question the will and/or actions of a Republican president labels one a “traitor” or a “fucking commie,” according to regional variation.
This is a numerical analysis given in reverse proportion to the degree to which a given leader’s views, maneuvers, and strategy are misunderstood, or, conversely, understood by cognizant members of economically germane segments of the adult female homosexual pederast Nazi underbelly, and/or residents of Multnomah, Lane, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Barbara counties. In short: it don’t mean shit, so ignore it.
Much like pornography, nearly indefinable. To paraphrase the words of some great Supreme Court leader or other, show ’em to me, and I’ll tell you if they’re enemy combatants or not. One alternate definition: anyone not a member of the U.S. Armed Forces compelled to live in sunny Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Another definition has it synonymous with “hippie.”
Too quaint to define. Moving on-
The celebration, in elegant literary form, of the successes and triumphs of a given Republican leader. Also includes coverage of Nashville jingo-pop country, feel-good stories from Iraq and Afghanistan, and detailed NASCAR analysis. Anything involving criticism of the government, soccer or France, is, technically, “sensationalism.”
Use these words and phrases carefully, dress neatly, smile a lot, and make no sudden moves, and you should be able to interact peacefully with any Republican. Next week: How to talk to a Democrat.