I don’t think there’s any doubt now that the GOP is the Party of Punishment. Republicans relish their ongoing, self-mandate, to publicly humiliate and destroy anyone who doesn’t go along with their party plan.  The latest victim of their wrath is University of Wisconsin Professor William Cronon.

Recently William Cronon, a historian who teaches at the University of Wisconsin, decided to weigh in on his state’s political turmoil. He started a blog, “Scholar as Citizen,” devoting his first post to the role of the shadowy American Legislative Exchange Council in pushing hard-line conservative legislation at the state level. Then he published an opinion piece in The Times, suggesting that Wisconsin’s Republican governor has turned his back on the state’s long tradition of “neighborliness, decency and mutual respect.”

So what was the G.O.P.’s response? A demand for copies of all e-mails sent to or from Mr. Cronon’s university mail account containing any of a wide range of terms, including the word “Republican” and the names of a number of Republican politicians.

If this action strikes you as no big deal, you’re missing the point. The hard right — which these days is more or less synonymous with the Republican Party — has a modus operandi when it comes to scholars expressing views it dislikes: never mind the substance, go for the smear. And that demand for copies of e-mails is obviously motivated by no more than a hope that it will provide something, anything, that can be used to subject Mr. Cronon to the usual treatment.

The Cronon Affair that exploded over the weekend, made me pause for a moment to reflect upon what life would be like under a 100% Republican rule where they won every want they have.

Here’s the list.  Let me know what I missed or, perhaps, misunderstood.

  • Punishment of those who choose to speak freely about facts on the record
  • Elevation of miscreants to cult status
  • God in the Courthouses
  • Jesus in the public schools
  • No taxes on the wealthy
  • No welfare for the poor
  • No abortion for any woman under any circumstance
  • No NPR
  • No Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • No National of the Endowment for the Arts
  • No email privacy
  • Ongoing War in the Middle East with no end
  • No public schools
  • No teachers living above the poverty line
  • Guns in every pocket
  • Guns on every campus
  • Snark and Pettiness instead of love and caring
  • Every non-wealthy child living below the poverty line
  • No environmental protection
  • No Planned Parenthood
  • No Social Security
  • No Medicare or Medicaid
  • No student loan aid
  • More prisons
  • No foreigners
  • No Gays
  • No healthcare
  • No money for bridge and highway maintenance
  • American flags on every lapel
  • Crosses on every street corner
  • Bombs are more important than bread
  • Pollution is better than clean air

That’s my list so far.

What a stunning vision of a “New America” under the Republican plan.  It turns my stomach to see how precipitously close we are to falling into a police state while being told, with a straight face, that those changes are in our best interest and long-term freedom.

The Republicans clearly want a total return to a slave and master society with the rich 2% of Americans ruling over the rest of us — the poor, hungry, and uneducated huddled masses yearning to breathe free again.


    1. They really aren’t. Cronon is a public employee, not a public official. Big difference — but that doesn’t matter to the GOP. They’ll try to nut him down with every knuckle they have until he stops speaking the truth. They likely won’t be able to touch Cronon — but the message has been sent to the rest of us in the meantime: WATCH OUT!

  1. Legal or not, the guys interested in Cronon’s email have shown their hand. If they don’t find what they want, their hand will slap themselves stupid and they’ll blame someone else.

    I’m seeing Wisconsin as a Karl Rove experiment at creating at creating his version of a permanent majority.

    Nice list. Makes sense to me. I’ve seen people who’ve lived the list until they needed the same things they’ve railed against; when their humanness emerges, if it does before a dramatic death bed conversion to kindness, they’ll reach out into the nothingness they built around themselves.

    Happens all the time?


    1. Excellent comment, David. You’ve given us a lot of thought to chew on for a bit, thank you.

      Yes, they have shown their hand, and you’re right — they’ll get away with it because the object of this punishment is not really Cronon, but rather those of us who would dare to tread after Cronon and ask similar uncomfortable questions about power, wealth, and unjust imbalances. They’ll lose on Cronon, but succeed in silencing those less brave than Cronon. There’s no downside for them because they’re full of hubris and not humility.

      I agree there is danger wrought all over Wisconsin and Indiana, too. That’s why the recall votes must be measured, counted, and then voted on and enforced to return some semblance of sanity to the political system, because if we don’t fight now, they will get in power and create a permanent stranglehold from which we will never recover. They’ll rewrite laws and pack the courts with their own kind and we’ll have no way to ever get rid of their ilk again.

      The time to break their backs was during Obama’s first two years. He had the mandate, the votes and the support, and he blew it all. He could have been the man who set us all back into real freedom and he instead let our previous captors continue to come after us.

      I appreciate your insight into these deathbed conversions. They live the fake life of a caring, conservative Christian, until it’s all too late — and they try to convert their sins into a washing away of blame as they fade away to were they belong. I’ve seen more Godly Atheists in my life than I have seen Godly Christians — and that’s a pretty sad state of public fakery.

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