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Garrison Keillor writes, "How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?"

Portrait, Garrison Keillor. (photo: public domain)
Portrait, Garrison Keillor. (photo: public domain)

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+35 # NanFan 2011-08-27 10:09
Old article. Still works today, if not more.

Bravo, Garrison. I'm proud to call you friend.

+54 # artful 2011-08-27 10:11
Wow . . . and we haven't changed a thing in the 11 years since he wrote that piece. Oh, yeah, I guess we did. We made it collectively worse. The evil goes on. The "Let'm eat cake" rich republicans and their teabaggers may yet rue the day they decided to destroy America. Remember Marie Antoinette . . .
+14 # Hors-D-whores 2011-08-27 23:01
2004 to 2011, don't think that is 11 years. No matter, I agree with you on the rest. May be time to storm the Bastille.
+3 # tenayaca 2011-08-29 09:17
btw, that quote attributed to Marie was incorrect but widely repeated to the point of it becoming "common knowledge" much in the same way that our current day propagandists smear people. It was actually said BEFORE her time but applied to her because she was a hated Austrian.
+43 # Ken Pardue 2011-08-27 10:35
Some think of Chomsky's vision as dark, but mine is darker. While Chomsky thinks that if people organize, they can change the system. I don't think so. Our system is worse than dysfunctional;i t's broken. We cannot amend our Constitution and make it more democratic. And we cannot get corporate money out of our elections because we have an activist Supreme Court that believes it can channel the thoughts of the framers – as if the framers had opinions about the “personhood” of transnational corporations. And if we can do neither of those, then the odds of any real change happening are not worth betting on.
I'm afraid our government is like Elmer Fudd; it has done to itself the old gag from vintage cartoons. It’s painted itself into a corner, and I have no idea how, or even, if our government will ever get out of this corner. We have serious problems that need to be resolved and can be resolved, but the very nature of our system prevents workable solutions from even being tried. In short, because our system is broken, we cannot fix our system. (For more analysis, check out
+10 # Capn Canard 2011-08-28 10:46
I am with you Ken... It is a dilly of a pickle... money in the electoral process is at the heart of it. It is MONEY that is the acidic corrosive eating away at the structure of democracy. We have to throw it all out... and remake the system based on what is good for people and NOT what is good for the Wealthy, etc. People come first and not the movement of Wealth.
+4 # giraffee2012 2011-08-29 11:46
Ken - I agree and the only "slight" hope I have is that Scalia will die and be replaced - in the NEXT 5 years - so we can remove some of the Supremes' UNCONSTITUTIONA L decisions (law) - i.e. person-hood. Free speech does not include undisclosed amounts (and who gave) money to fund a corrupt politician into office.

I would not shed a tear if somebody offed Scalia/Thomas/ Koch brothers/ etc.

Foreigners (especially from the Far East) predict we will end as a military run country (Germany all over again) and the fight over "debt, etc" is a cover for the rise of our "private" military.
+2 # dkonstruction 2011-08-31 12:32
i agree that our system is broken but was it really any less so when there was slavery, Jim Crow or when there was no worker protection legislation or the right to organize and form a union? Was Egypt or Libya's system less dysfunctional or broken? Was South Africa under Apartheid? I'm not naive enough to believe that truly substantive, progressive change is easy but it never has been. It only happens when people organize and become politically powerful enough to make it so. This was the case for FDR who initially campaigned as a moderate who would maintain the status quo; the same was true for the Supreme Court during the 1950s that gave us Brown vs. The Board of Education and all of the other landmark civil rights decisions). To believe that we cannot organize to bring about meaningful change leaves only one alternative: Fascism. And, even then, you don't fight fascists because you think you can win. You fight fascists because they are fascists. Now, more than ever, we need people to engage, organize and fight back. We don't need to change the constitution to implement total public financing of elections or single payer (Medicare for all) health insurance or publicly owned financial institutions or end the endless wars the US is now engaged in. Again, i'm not saying any are easy but there are way too many historical examples that prove it is always possible.
+47 # Vardette 2011-08-27 10:41
The people of Wisconsin and now Ohio are showing us away out. We may not win but we must try and not go down without a fight- The American people are getting it and that's why no matter how much money was thrown at the recent election in Wisocnsin and the movement in Ohio and now Michigan, people know who the GOP are and what they really stand for and have chosen good government for all and not Small government. This is why we are voting Progressive for the house and senate next round. The GOP has shown us what a small group of powerful people in the senate can do When Bernie Sanders runs he doesn't do it with millions from corporate doners. The people of VT just know what his track record is and what he stands for.
+23 # Alturn 2011-08-27 11:08
A sacred duty starts by having a reverence for the sacred. When you are spiritually and mentally bankrupt, as is the case with large sections of the US populace today, everything becomes a commodity with a price. In doing so, the sacred loses its intrinsic value. That which is most sacred and priceless - life itself - loses its vitality and in that process endangers its capacity to be as we move ever closer to a precipice of extinction of our own making.
-3 # Pickwicky 2011-08-29 16:02
I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Alturn: you have succeeded in attaching meaning and grandeur to nonsense.
+66 # HommeVieux2 2011-08-27 11:21
Gandhi listed 7 deadly social sins. They are:

Politics without principles
Wealth without work
Commerce without morality
Pleasure without conscience
Education without character
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice

Don't these practically define today's Republican Party ?
-5 # Carolyn 2011-08-28 06:12
It sounds to me like the demise of our ciuntry;s founders American principles, being fulfilled fo all to see, under the leadership of Obama.
What a list of hopelessness.
-9 # MidwestTom 2011-08-28 12:44
Does this define almost the whole country. Political correctness has eliminated much of our nations character. What are the 'principles' of our President. I hate to say it, but with some of the Repb. candidates we at least know where they stand, which is more than I can say for our President and for most of Congress where nobody disagrees with the 'party line'.
+29 # Paul Zolbrod 2011-08-27 11:21
Bravo to Garrison Keillor (once again).. His sensitivity to the American past--a-a rare thing in itself these days--is a a poignant reminder that in light of the takeover by today's Mammon so-called Republicans, this nation's cultural ansd intellectual infrastructure has been all but dismantled along with the one made up of bridges, roads and schoolhouses. He reminds us as well that while not made of concrete, bricks and steel, that less tangible infrastructure is the more fundamental. If only today's Republicans would read Emerson and Whitman and Twain (and stop branding those who do as "elitists"), and would support their return to the forefront of today's classrooms, we might restore at its roots what is best about the American idendity and what makes its material wealth significant.
+25 # Isar 2011-08-27 11:42
When we sit idly and allow the far right Christian Mega-church, brain-washed, non-thinkers influence our politics, we open the door to dangerous times. Rick Perry would be the PERFECT president to represent these extremists, though George Dubya did a pretty good job. When our President feels he MUST attend church (a Christian church) and dare not say he is a non-believer, then we are in deep doo-doo. I'm waiting for the President....AN Y President--Repu blican or Democrat to simply say, "My religion is my business and cannot be expressed in public BECAUSE I'm the president of the United States. Let's not think about "sacred" duty. The word sacred implies religion, God, and the concept that a religion has sacred definitions. I prefer the words "good for all men"...Let's get back to the basics of democracy when "all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights"....Not just Christian men (and women)....but all people. The obvious diversity in our country today is what continues to make us potentially the greatest country in the world. We must recognize it as our greatest strength. Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, whatever....wor king together to build an even better society than what we had in our glorious past. We are NOT spiritually or mentally bankrupt...BUT. ..we are missing the most important characteristic of a good society...TOLER ANCE.
+23 # angelfish 2011-08-27 11:51
What has happened is that our Government has broken it's word to America. It has taken the sacred Trust given it by the People and discarded it. The Party of Lincoln has been overtaken by the Dark Side and the "evil doers" of "dubya's" Regime, turns out to be THEM! Bravo, Mr.Keillor! You've hit the nail on the head and explained our descent beautifully! I don't believe most Americans are complicit in this decline, I think they have been scammed, lied to and are so gun-shy of Government since the Fascists have MADE it something to fear, that they are in a state of shock and awe, unable to respond to all the destruction and dismantling of the checks and balances that reined in the ME FIRSTers in previous years. The pendulum is beginning to swing back to sanity and reason as evidenced by the valiant folks in Wisconsin and elsewhere who are fighting these Lunatics tooth and nail. If the positive changes we're seeing are to continue, we ALL have to enter the fray and make our voices heard over the Propaganda Machines of the K.N.F.P!(Koch/N orquist Fascist Party) I take comfort in the TRUTH and the FACT that there are more of US than there are of Them and that, we CAN and WILL overcome! Remember on Election Day 2012!
+18 # Dave_s Not Here 2011-08-27 12:14
This should be tuned-up to bring it up to currency with today's collection of Repugs and then it should be printed on the front page of every newspaer and magazine in the nation.
+25 # MIKE K 2011-08-27 12:16
Seven years since this was written and things have only gotten worse. Why you ask? Not so much because the GOP had two more years of majority in congress or because Bush had four more years. No it's because the party of Neville Chamberlain reincarnted and Limo Liberals took acoutability off the table, acoutability for Bush and the bankster, they gave us a Smooth talking president who'd rather make deals with the devil than do his job properly.
Obama a man with no spine, no balls and no follow through who acts more like the GOP's battered wife than a president. Serving up a Satan sandwich and calls it Foie gras.
+4 # SteveM 2011-08-28 11:42
Well-stated, Mike.
-1 # Pickwicky 2011-08-29 16:04
Mike: angry comments--and false.
+11 # C Schmidt 2011-08-27 13:06
Amen brother! Isn't it interesting how this article is 7 years old and it's right on target today.
+4 # John Gill 2011-08-27 15:29
Sheesh! Did I miss something? A guy makes a speech in which he obliquely cautions us about the military industrial complex, and all of a sudden he's everyone's darling. Apparently everybody forgot about "Operation Wetback", yeah, that was Eisenhower's version of "let's blame the immigrants," and it made Arizona's 1070 look like a walk in the park. And Nixon....really ? Are we still talking about the same fellow who virtually showered the people of Cambodia with Christian charity? Sure. He was "love-bombing" them back to the stone age. Seriously, did I miss something, because if I did, I apologize. I think Keillor is great on NPR, but I don't get this at all.
+6 # billy bob 2011-08-27 22:02
You're absolutely right. When we look back kindly on people like nixon, there's something seriously wrong with this country.
-25 # aitengri 2011-08-27 15:40
Come on, folks! Garrison is ranting just like the worst of those he rants about. Yes, the article is "2004". And the florid, as in rabidly exessive, redundancy of the long, long paragraph, the pyrotechnical spark array of negative images, goes on and on like this sentence. That's like any good rapping preacher, and all the comments are like the congregation stomping their feet and "I hear 'ya, brother". Hero worship doesn't work, no matter what stripe or ideology, etc.
+18 # MEBrowning 2011-08-27 19:33
Agreeing with someone emphatically does not hero worship make. Mr. Keillor has been speaking and writing on this very subject for more than a decade, and what he says makes sense. If more of us had listened and stomped their feet back then, our country might be in a very different place today. And hooray for his "long, long paragraph." You must find all great writers crushing bores.
+13 # CL38 2011-08-27 15:53
Beautifully, cogently, astutely written he's speaking truth, and it's even more true now than ever!!!
+1 # CL38 2011-08-27 15:54
Who are YOU going to vote for in the next election?
+16 # kyzipster 2011-08-27 16:46
I have a hard time romanticizing the racist, sexist and homophobic white male dominated 1950s and 60s as Garrison has done but I think I get what he's saying. We've made a lot of social progress in the last 60 years but we've gone in the opposite direction with capitalism, greed is rewarded and no one questions it, it's bizarre.

As a kid in the 1970s it was shocking to hear of someone's parent getting laid off and it was rare, today it's expected. Germany recovered from the economic crash quickly in part because corporations made saving jobs a priority, shared sacrifice. In the US the crash was used as an opportunity to cut the work force and maximize profits and they're sitting on the cash as the country is seeing no end in sight to unemployment.

Republicans survive by stirring up hate and division, it used to be directed towards Reagan's mythical Cadillac driving welfare queen but today it includes firefighters and teachers because they have a decent pension and benefits and the working poor resent it.
+9 # grizz 2011-08-27 16:57
so here we are on the cusp of WWIII with three wars running in sinc, Oil rich bastards taking us all down and the KOCH Bro's and ALEC Owing our senate, congress, and the presidency as far as I can see. What will 2012 bring forth.. a new age of enlightenment where all of the downtrodden realize that they have been played for over a century and will rise up on their hind legs and say NO MORE..Left or right if you make under $100000 per annum you are all pawns and peasants and the puppet masters will try to grab you by the strings and play you like fiddles.. You can say NO MORE! You can get out in the street in protest, you can take your money out of the banks and stock markets, you can starve the beast and shut it down if it is trying to eat you..
+5 # fredboy 2011-08-27 18:18
I've waited more than 60 years--it's time for Lake Wobegon now. Nice people of goodness. Who care about everyone. And the future. I think there are enough of us to make it happen.
+8 # HogansHeroes 2011-08-27 23:44
...all we need are the candidates... and perhaps some way to get around rigged voting machines.
+3 # Robert H Pflanz 2011-08-28 11:26
We desperately need an update to this 2004 well written article. It's now 2011 and things have only gotten worse and the damage is accelerating. We need Garrison's concise verbalization to spread the word.
+4 # LAellie33 2011-08-28 15:38
Every American MUST take responsibility to fight to overturn the vicious, racist, lying rhetoric and despicable actions of the republican/cons ervative/teabag ger party Of, By, and For the Rich. To hell with them! They MUST be eviscerated - disemboweled. Stop blaming Obama for everything wrong. Let's see ANYONE, single-handedly fight these hard-core bastards, while trying to keep the country afloat from the GOP's well- thought-out evil "Plan of Destruction." Give Obama a filibuster-proo f Democrat majority in the House and Senate and WATCH things change! It's up to YOU, the voters. Will YOU vote against your own best interest? Will YOU sit out 2012? If you do, then kiss your life (and everyone elses) goodbye. My advice: Stand by him - or Fall into the Abyss. Your choice.
+1 # Kayjay 2011-08-29 15:19
Hopefully, those of the tea bagging ilk will stock up on lecithin to feed their tiny brains and read this essay by Keillor. Once read, they may realize their complicity in Koch's master plan to create a permanent generation of serfs.
+2 # DurangoKid 2011-08-29 18:27
Would the founders of this grand experiment dismay over its failure after only two centuries?
+2 # CommonSense 2011-08-29 23:55
Quoting DurangoKid:
Would the founders of this grand experiment dismay over its failure after only two centuries?

I don't think so. Thomas Jefferson, in his correspondence, repeatedly bemoaned its failure and (then semi-) conquest by Banksters in the 1820s- his colleaque James Madison having acquiesced to signing the 2nd Bank of the US into existence in 1816. But it was only for a "20 year charter" back then- can you imagine!

The 'grand experiment' of the Constitution was the most brilliant governmental document written, but it had, nonetheless, two fundamental flaws: one being, of course, the SLAVERY issue; the other being its vagueness over MONETARY issues, thus leaving open a trap door for 'state caputre' by (what was then) Europe-based financial interests.

Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Jackson certainly knew all about this in the early 19th century, a time when European politcs was being devoured through such monetary-intrig ue. Jackson and his successors won some victories vs. the Banksters/oliga rchy... but obviously the US 'Civil' War totally changed the playing field.

The original slavery flaw was subsequently eliminated. But the trap door to US state capture via monetary-curren cy control (just as obviously) remains open to this day.
+1 # Jim 2011-08-30 17:41
Written 7 years ago, prophetic and frightening in its accuracy. Very depressing stuff. Indeed America was in rough shape back then; who would have predicted that it would get this much worse? Indeed the world now sees an America transformed from a light on the hill to a global laughingstock. Even if the USA will somehow miraculously turn from this present darkness of willfully cultivated national insanity, it's going to take a generation to regain the respect it once had earned and now squandered.

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