Friday, September 21, 2012

Innocence Of Republicans - Worshipping At The Altar Of Wealth

The United States of America is the model for the world because we're a nation built on an idea and not an identity. From Day One, the system of government we built was democratic, all of our citizens were equal at birth, and they were all entitled to the equal protection of laws which are continually updated. No other country can say that. After we showed the ruling royals of Europe that we weren’t going to be anyone’s colonies, we set out to improve on the Roman model of city-states overseen by a central government. And over the course of almost two-and-a-half centuries, fifty distinctly different states remained united for the fundamental purpose of creating a more perfect union between their people. Not only do we have an unbroken string of seamless, bloodless transitions of power (except the Civil War), we succeeded in creating a better quality of life for all of our citizens (except Native Peoples) than the world had ever seen. At least, that’s American history as I learned it.

In this election, the Republican Party wants us to look at America a little differently. Modern Republicans worship at the altar of wealth and couldn't care less about a more perfect union. They believe that the highest American virtue is the attainment of assets. They want us to think we’re the model for the world because in America you’re free to earn and keep as much money as you can – provided you don’t get caught breaking the law – and if you’re successful enough at earning and keeping money, the quality of your life will be better here than anywhere else. In today’s Grand Old Party (where womanizers, pedophiles, and fools are welcome, but tax heretics will not be tolerated), the “E Pluribus” is gone from American citizenship and it’s all about the “Unum.” Republicans have become so myopically focused on getting into the private economy of the One Percent, a magical place called “Richistan,” they have no frame of reference for people who are happy to just raise their kids, do their jobs, and live their lives in a clean, safe, part of town. They simply take it for granted that all Americans aspire to be wealth hoarders. And they assume we’ll support their candidates out of self-interest because nothing matters more to modern Republicans than preventing the money Americans earn from going into the United States Treasury.

Going back to the 1980’s, the Republican Party has won elections by bringing a coalition of disparate groups together around two basic concepts: Economic freedom and shared moral values. In terms of policy, that meant cutting taxes and restricting access to the abortion procedure. In terms of party politics, it’s always been a two-for-one deal; and Republican candidates had to be able to support both causes. So the issues have typically been framed as a choice between evil Democrats who want to raise taxes to pay for abortion on-demand, and the righteous Republicans who will simultaneously protect your accumulated wealth and your unborn children. And though they’ve never come close to outlawing abortions and amending the Constitution to give equal protection to the unborn, the Republican Party has been able to get its “values voters” to ignore their economic interests for thirty years by putting a plank in the platform promising to do it next time. These people are fundamentalist partisans who conflate religion with politics; and as Mitt Romney says, they will vote for him no matter what. Though their issue is literally life-and-death, they are a lower priority for their party than the so-called “fiscal conservatives” because the most important thing to modern Republicans isn't the sanctity of life, it's preventing the money Americans earn from going into the United States Treasury.

It's difficult to see how anyone who isn't suffering from Alzheimer's or amnesia could take Republican Party seriously on fiscal policy. This is the party of George W. Bush; who was the first President to cut taxes while waging war, and who ran the country’s first trillion-dollar annual deficit – all enabled by Republicans in Congress. Looking at the current standard-bearer’s budget plan, you wouldn’t know that the nominee for Vice President served in the House of Representatives during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. For all its hype, the Romney/Ryan budget doesn’t even try to get into balance; it doesn’t cut spending, and it increases the defense budget by trillions of dollars. In addition, they want to lower tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations by trillions more in the hope that their military build-up and the new Giant Pool of Money created by their tax cuts will combine to equal job creation and economic growth. The Republican ticket is out there selling the same old supply-side snake oil that didn’t work during the Bush years, and the Republican Caucus is ready to write it into law. They want us to believe that despite the GOP-generated gridlock we've seen over the last three-and-a-half years, they now have the magic formula to get Congress to work together to balance the federal budget. They want us to believe that they can turn Medicare into VoucherCare without it negatively affecting the quality of life for our parents and grandparents. And these two trust fund babies will finance trillions in tax cuts with borrowed money from overseas while requiring poor American seniors to absorb their healthcare cost increases. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have no problem requiring people with more to pay less, and people with less to pay more. Why? Because modern Republicans don't care about preserving the Social Safety Net as much as they care about preventing the money Americans earn from going into the United States Treasury.

The last time we had a Presidential election, our nation was in the beginning stages of a downward economic spiral that threatened the global financial system. It was exactly the kind of crisis that our system of fifty united state governments and one federal government was created to deal with. Once the new administration was in place, President Obama, Congress, Governors, and state legislatures crafted some policies to prevent problems from getting worse, and some policies to help the economy recover. The work they did together was critical, it was monumental, and it was historic. But one group in Washington chose not to participate in what became the most important legislative process in almost a century. At a time of potentially unprecedented suffering in every state of the union from coast-to-coast, only three of the 249 Republicans elected to serve in Congress could bring themselves to get behind a bill to help the American economy get back on its feet. Ninety-nine percent of Congressional Republicans didn’t support the Recovery Act for one pitifully partisan and unpatriotic reason: They wanted to prevent the money Americans earn from going into the United States Treasury.

Electing a Republican to represent you in Washington – whether it’s the huckster duo of Myth Romney & Paul Lyin’ or any other (R) on the ballot – means you support this “starve the beast” approach to running our federal government. It means you don’t care about we the people, our more perfect union, domestic tranquility, or the general welfare as written in the Constitution. It means you’ve forgotten about your obligation to all of those people who struggled, fought, and died in defense of your way of life. It means you never learned the lessons of the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, the hijackings of September 11, 2001, or Hurricane Katrina. It means you feel no sense of responsibility or obligation toward your fellow Americans. Most importantly, it means you agree with the Republican Party in Washington, and you want to ensure that our President and your state’s Congressional delegation do everything they possibly can to prevent the money you earn from going into the United States Treasury.

It means you worship at the altar of wealth - and you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.


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