Black August. Perhaps some day the folks who were once proud to call themselves Republicans will look back on that month — August 2009 — painfully and remember it as the month that that the once Grand Old Party went down in flames.
It all started out so well. Party operatives who helped gin up faux outrage over voting problems in Florida which resulted in Bush v. Gore were really getting little old ladies and Joe Sixpack riled up over the Obama health care plan. The media, lovers of conflict more than life itself, were eating it up. Local TV reporters would run over their own grandmothers to catch a town hall meeting held by a local congressperson, just hoping for soundbites by those feigning anger, some of whom consumed Medicare while screaming against government-run health care.
Even some polls were saying the American public was, for awhile, not all on board with insurance reform if a public option was to be part of the system.
But as the month waned and late summer drifted into its last few weeks, the Republicans saw their well-oiled machinery come apart at the seams when their opposition was smacked down by the “Big B.” Yes, backlash.
It didn’t take much to turn the public against the anti-reformers. A couple of Democratic congressmen got roughed up at their townhall meetings. Other rallies got out of hand. Some punches were thrown, some signs batted about, a couple of women, children and their pets were hurt.
The backlash grew and grew. The next midterm election saw an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress. State assemblies which once were governed by solid GOP majorities fell. The following year saw rancorous state Republican conventions throughout the country. The conflict between the extreme right and moderate wings of the party became so intense, that the party finally splintered.
Today, most Republicans see little hope that their once loved party will ever regain its stature as a national party. Perhaps there would be one GOP today instead of several little parties that are unable to generate voter interest had things been differently way back when. During that dark, black August so long ago.