House Speaker John Boehner says Republicans should be judged not on what laws they've made but by what laws they've repealed. I'd like to offer a brief list of the fallout of the GOP's existential crisis:
1. "Hitler" -- The first time I heard someone call the first black president of the United States "Hitler," I laughed. Who'd be more offended by the comparison? Hitler. But now the slur is ubiquitous. "Hitler-like." "Wants to be Hitler." "Dictators like Hitler and Obama." I was going to cite specific examples of Republicans calling Barack Obama a Nazi, but it's so widespread it's already a meme.
The list of offenders is endless from Congressmen Paul Broun, R-Ga., and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, to Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman and self-satirist Rush Limbaugh.
Here's the irony: Hitler was a conspiracy theorist. He used the rhetorical devices of appealing to fear, evidence denial and mystical reckoning to further his agenda.
An example of that from this week would be the sputtering of Rep. Dana Rohrabacker, R-Calif., who said: "Just so you know, global warming is a total fraud. At the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives." Bingo.
Thanks to absurd overuse abuse -- Republicans repealed Hitler. This lazy insult has become a surefire way of shutting down real debate about an actual (not Republican-imagined) evil tyrant coming to power. Spoiler alert: Paranoid conspiracy nonsense helps.
2. Racism -- Right-wingers calling black people racist and feigning to be the victims of "reverse racism" has pretty much killed the word racism. It's difficult to even talk about prejudice and discrimination based on your skin color when old white men claim they're the real victims.
It's a Republican whataboutism or I'm rubber, you're glue. Just call the victims of racism racists and declare anyone who brings up racism a race-baiter. They've ended "racism."
3. Town Halls -- Where politicians meet the people. The bastion of democracy. The place where you can look your representative in the eye and tell them what you need from your country. A celebration of civics where people learn about their representative and their community. But the 2009 Summer AstroTurf Olympics (the GOP attempt to stop health care reform) turned the town hall into a sea of old people screaming on YouTube, stricken by a death panel canard. Now, according to the New York Times, many congresspeople no longer host these events because they're concerned they'll be hijacked by moneyed-interests--like many groups named after tea.
4. Empathy -- On the Paleolithic plains of our ancestors, empathy kept us from pushing our own clan members in front of bear-size hyenas. In this way we increased our numbers to the current population of 7 billion or so.
The one thing all major religions share in common -- what is universal among those of faith -- is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you'd have done unto you. All of humankind agrees and owes its very existence to this premise.
But when Obama said judges should have empathy and nominated the first Latina to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, the right had to reflexively come out against empathy. The Wall Street Journal claimed empathy was the opposite of reason (pretty sure that's irrationality on both counts).
The then-chairman of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, waxed poetic: "Crazy nonsense empathetic. I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind."
Nix empathy and we no longer care about the less fortunate, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised or our neighbors. It's like if Ayn Rand were Jesus' virgin mother. Creepy.
Republicans repealed empathy the same way they repealed compromise, by making it akin to treason -- or possibly Hitler.
5. Congress -- If you have three pillars holding something up and you take away one pillar, the whole thing falls. It's simple physics. We have three branches of government and one makes dysfunction look bad. Republicans' self-fulfilling prophecy about government being inefficient is hurting the country the party claims the love.
When did nihilism become patriotic? Coincidentally, it was around the time African-American Hitler tyrannically signed a bill mandating health insurance companies spend 80 percent of their premiums on health care.
So judge House Republicans on what they've repealed.