GOP has created a monster

For two years, Republican leaders, both elected and self-appointed, have been in America's cellar concocting political potions and trying to design invincible politicians who would help them in their fight against the "evil empire" that now rules the country.

They defined their "enemies" as socialists and fascists, blocked or tried to block every initiative of the current administration and were determined to turn the nation's political map blood red again.

Over and over we heard them say they wanted to "take our country back." Yet, many of us felt what they really wanted was to take our country backward -- to about 1950.

Armed with a load of distortions and cloaked in a mask of deception, they set out to characterize their opponents with unshakable negative labels while redefining themselves as defenders of the Constitution, protectors of individual liberty and the personal ambassadors of God sent to deliver the people from the liberal devils trying to destroy them.

Their recruiting strategy was based on fear and anger, tapping into the anxieties and the impatience of individuals already frightened by the economic slowdown, high jobless rate, record number of foreclosures and diminishing 401(k) and pension funds.

Relying on others' short memories of just how bad off this nation was 24 months ago when it was on the brink of economic disaster, the GOP "leaders" separated themselves from the causes of the turmoil, did little to offer corrective remedies and figured out a way to blame the new administration for the current conditions.

The new recruits to the conservative movement, however, brought their own brand of politics with their tea parties, steeped in nonconforming rhetoric and spiked with an intolerance and prejudice for those who didn't see things their way.

To the surprise of many, the tea partiers also targeted members of the Republican Party as they waged war on incumbency and Washington, in general. The word "moderate," regardless of party, became a dirty one and served as a target on the back of any politician who dared wear that label.

The new followers, in many ways like zombies, went after their prey with little or no discretion. In many cases across the country where constituents had been served well by dedicated members of Congress and state legislators, we saw people vote against their own self-interest to defeat those who even remotely appeared to be moderate or willing to work with individuals from the opposite party.

Those mad political scientists working in America's basement continued trying to perfect their new conservative creatures. The idea was that they were to stay on target and stay on message: repealing "Obamacare," reducing the deficit, stopping the socialist movement that had gripped the nation and, of course, "taking our country back."

On Election Day, most of the elements came together. The folks in the cellar pulled the switch, the electrical charge went off, and angry voters robotically headed to the polls to show their defiance and disdain for the occupant of the White House by electing a group of "patriots" who were destined to derail this president's agenda.

And they for the most part succeeded by taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives and making significant gains in the Senate, governors' mansions and state legislatures where they are likely to affect even more change by gerrymandering House and legislative districts.

In many ways, it's like all horror movies of this genre: It's scary at times, laughable at others and often very disappointing in the end.

Republican leaders should beware. As with Dr. Frankenstein, it's hard to figure out what to do with the monster after you've created it. And invariably the monster will turn on its maker.

Contact Sanders, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, at bobray@star-telegram.com.