That's a line from the third episode of the second season of The West Wing. It comes at the end of one of Jed Bartlet's famous rants, directed at a prim and proper female radio host who was obviously modeled after "Dr." Laura Schlessinger.
But as I was watching the episode on DVD tonight, the thought struck me that it's a fairly accurate description of what the modern Republican Party has become in the last couple of decades. The GOP and its candidates like to refer back to the glory days (well, in their minds, anyway) of Ronald Reagan; sometimes they even go as far back as Lincoln. But all the while, the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has been under siege, and is now in thrall to, people that neither Lincoln nor Eisenhower would likely have pissed on had they been on fire. Don't believe me? Consider this, from a letter that Lincoln wrote to his best friend Joshua Speed in August 1855:
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty, --to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
The Know-Nothings, by the by, got their start as a precursor-cum-competitor of the Republican Party. I'm sure the founder(s) of the Know-Nothings would be smiling, to see so many of their nativist, racist doctrines being embraced so tightly by the Republicans of today--as exemplified, for example, by retiring former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's decision to endorse the candidacy of dairy magnate James
Oberweis Überweiß to replace him. Überweiß has run for statewide office several times before--and lost rather spectacularly each time--and I tend to suspect that at least one of the reasons he hasn't been able to win election in this state is because he's absolutely batshit crazy when it comes to scarybrownpeople (who, he believes, are coming up in droves from Mexico and points southward and taking the jobs of "real" Amerkins). I can't imagine that sentiment plays terribly well in places like Aurora, where the Hispanic population is (a) significant and (b) on the rise. But neither, it seems, can one expect to win the Republican nomination these days--at any level--without mouthing the hateful shibboleths about illegal immigrants, border security, and the like.