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Fri May 6, 2016, 03:47 PM

Intervention: Can America Stop Enabling the GOP?

It's gotten pretty bad. This family, the America family, have finally decided to seek help for one of their family members. Three other family members are meeting with a professional interventionist.

Interventionist: So, tell me about the problem with your... family member, is it?

Centindie America: (The others have agreed she'll more or less be the spokesperson for now.) Yeah, I guess. Well, yes. I mean, right now, I'm really tempted to say, "annoying stranger I want outta my life", but the reality is, it's all in the family, yep.

Interventionist: I get it. Times, you want to disown them, but they do still matter. They're related to us. We can remember the good times. And it wouldn't work, anyway. So, tell me about... 'G', is it?

Centindie: Yeah, his name's actually Repli, but he used to call himself "Goppie" as a baby, and so it's been 'GOP' or 'G' all along. Everyone calls him that, it's not just a family nickname.

Interventionist: I'll remember. So, why do you think this is the time for an intervention?

Prog America: Long past time, we shoulda done this years ago!

Democ America: Hush, we agreed we'd let Centindie tell it.

Prog: (rolling eyes) Yeah, yeah... (mutters) You're such a cop-out, Dem. (Democ glares at him.)

Interventionist: It'll be important to hear from everyone, but let's take it in order, for now.

Centindie: Well, some of us have been concerned for quite a while, but others just wrote that off as, you know, old grudges, the usual family fights, that kind of thing. We've always been a (grins ruefully) contentious bunch. Dinner-table debates a specialty, you know? (Interventionist nods.) But lately, G's behavior's gotten pretty, ummm, well, difficult to take. For most of us. It's really far over the line, now. He's hurting himself, too. We... we're really worried about him.

(Prog snorts, Democ elbows him, Centindie gives them both an exasperated look.)

Interventionist: So, you all agree G's behavior is risking serious harm to himself, as well as others, and you're all agreed it needs to change? (Looks at each in turn, and gets nods.) Okay, that's a good start. Let me explain a little bit about how intervention works: First, we evaluate. That includes gathering facts about G's problem, and evidence of how it's damaging G and others. Then, we decide who should be part of the intervention team- people whose participation will carry some weight of influence with G. Then we present our evidence and ask G to consider changing, and answer his objections-- and there'll be plenty of those. Then we offer to help G change, and, finally and most importantly, we apply leverage. If we do our preparation right, there's usually a good chance G will commit to change, and make a start.

Centindie: (Looks at the others, there's a brief unspoken dialog with some eye-rolling, head-nodding, etc.) Okay, we can do that. I think the problem's pretty clear. G's really lost his way. He's always been pretty conservative-- maybe too conservative for some of us-- (glances at Prog)-- but there were some good things that went with that. Important things. Certainly things I valued. But lately, it's like, he's not even 'conservative' any more in the sense of trying to be wise and careful with family resources. It's crazy, he's just... grabbing everything for himself and a few friends. He's doing stuff he use to say was bad-- you know, stuff like overspending-- but now that's only bad when it's something someone else wants. He goes on these crazy weapons-buying, war-starting sprees and blows through bank accounts like toilet paper.

Democ: Yeah, and it's making us all look bad. I mean, I went along with him on a few things-- after all, we DO have a responsibility to keep the neighbors safe-- but G isn't doing that anymore. He's just making things worse. We're in over our heads, we have to keep fighting these stupid wars just to protect our own interests, now.

Prog: (Very emphatically) NO, we don't. You're just as bad as G, Dem. What we need to do is just STOP, all of it, NOW.

Interventionist: I can see this is a sore spot, but can I ask, Prog, would it be a good start, if we could get G to change?

Prog: (Catches a glance from Centindie, nods grudgingly.) Yes, but I honestly don't think we can do it. G's not listening to anyone right now, not even Centi.

Democ: That's for sure. Used to be, G cared a lot what people thought of him. Kinda stuffy about it, actually. Now, it's like, hell with the rest of you, I'm the only one who knows anything so go uh.. eff yourselves.

Centindie: (nodding) Yeah, and then he goes and hangs out with these horrible friends... and gets in stupid fights-- in public! He used to be the one the neighbors thought was the cool head, but they're actually scared of him, now. And doesn't listen to anyone.

Prog: Except maybe the voices in his head. (Democ snickers.)

Centindie: (Glares at Prog, then shrugs helplessly.) Yeah, maybe. (She sniffles a bit.) I'm worried about him, dammit!

Interventionist: It does sound very worrisome. But I think we've made a good start on the assessment. Let's talk about who should be part of the intervention team. People who matter to G, either because he values their opinion, or needs their support, or because they have some other kind of leverage they can apply. Especially, anyone who's been enabling him, and who's really committed to stopping that.

Prog: Well, I'm the only one who doesn't enable him, but he doesn't give a rat's ass about my opinion.

Democ: I do NOT enable him! I never have, for heaven's sake, we're ALWAYS on opposite sides.

Prog: Unless it's about bank regulation, or starting wars, or bailing your mutual buddies out of trouble, or... (Dem seethes, glowers, starts to speak)

Centindie: (Interrupts) Okay, I admit it. I probably DO enable him. But unlike SOME of us (she glares at Prog) I care about this whole family, and I have faith that G is an important part of it. We all need him well, even if we don't always agree. And I don't want him to hurt himself. Not least, because if he destroys the place, we're ALL in the soup.

Prog: Then you could try STOPPING him, rather than SUPPORTING him.

Centindie: (getting heated) Not ALL his ideas were bad ones. And anyway, you don't make people change by screaming at them, Prog! You always want to go too far, and I think you just make him WORSE.

Democ: Centi, if you'd just listen to me, sometimes, I'm sure a united front between the two of us would convince G to change!

Prog: (rolling eyes, throwing up hands) Oh, sure, like that's not how we got into this mess in the first place, you two pussyfooting around trying to be nice to G and letting him get away with EVERYTHING.

Interventionist: Okay, okay... I'm seeing a challenge here, for sure. We might not have an effective team to make this intervention work. Do any of you think you have the influence to get G to consider change?

(Silence- the Americas all exchange glances, Centindie starts to sniffle again.)

Centindie: But he's going to hurt himself. REALLY hurt himself...

Dem: And us.

Prog: (muttering, a little shamefacedly) Maybe good riddance...

Interventionist: Okay, let's try another tack. Let's imagine that we went to wherever G is, right this minute. We all stood in front of him, and asked him to change. What would he say?

All three Americas: (in nearly perfect unison, in a marked Queens accent) "You're all LOSERS!" (They glance at each other, startled, and then at the interventionist.)

Interventionist: Okay, well, that's pretty clear. An intervention probably won't succeed until G's experienced some really tough consequences, I'm afraid. But that's pretty much inevitable, if you can just refrain from enabling him.

(Centindie starts sobbing. Prog, unexpectedly, puts an arm around her shoulders, and she leans in.)

Democ: (grimly) So we're all in for some rough stuff, while G keeps imploding.

Interventionist: I'm afraid so. The best thing you can do is support one another. Try to find your own common ground, be kind to one another, and build your support system among the rest of the family.

Centindie: (In tears) But... but G! Oh, my little GOPpie... I was SO proud of him in the Civil War... the Roosevelt trust-busting... That incredible Eisenhower "military industrial complex" speech... The gravitas... the moral compass... Won't he ever get any of it back? Is it gone forever...? Is he gonna DIE?

Interventionist: Well, no one can answer that, now. But I can tell you this, from lots of experience. I've seen a lot of people hit bottom. Experience shattering, terrible consequences that seemed like the worst possible thing that could ever happen. But you know what?

If they live through those consequences, and learn anything from it, many of them DO finally commit to change. And when they do, they don't necessarily become the person they used to be. But sometimes they find a new, recovering life, instead. And reconnect with their families, and their communities, and live important, wonderful lives.

So, don't give up hope.

But for now... buckle up.


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