For a long time now, Republicans have spun a fascinating story of how liberals hate America. It’s peaked with the election of President Obama who is secretly a raging (read as: angry Negro) America hater intent on getting some pay back for…something. Slavery? Imperialism? Who knows? All we hear is that he hates America and so do we liberals. We’re all anti-American traitors plotting the absolute destruction of the United States. All of our policies are designed to do exactly that. This worked as a political tactic well enough to put all three branches of the government under conservative control for most of the last decade and the House back under GOP control in this one.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the conservative hegemony that Karl Rove bragged about in 2004. Following the blueprint of conservative gimmes, the country swerved off the road and crashed into a tree at full speed. Massive tax cuts and massive deregulation did not spur corporate reinvestment or boost the economy as predicted. The wealth it generated for the already wealthy did not “trickle down” to everyone else. These are two of the main economic tools of the GOP and they have been
using abusing them since the Reagan years. “Government is the problem” is the mantra of the Republican. “We’re taxing our most productive citizens to poverty!” is the mating call of the lobbyist-friendly conservative Congressperson. “Fiscalus responsibilitious!” is the spell the Right Wing cast upon the gullible.
But did it work? No. Not even a little. It took a Liberal president forcing the “victorious” Gingrich Revolution into actually walking the walk to balance the budget and create a surplus. One large enough that we would have been able to pay down the national debt in a reasonable amount of time. But then the Republicans came back into full power and that all went away. Back were the tax cuts and even more deregulation. Now we just pulled out of the deepest recession in almost one hundred years and the deficit (and resulting debt) has reached unimaginable heights. Wow, those conservative policies sure did the trick!
But they really did do the trick. The trick was to overextend the economy in such a way that the resulting crisis could be used to push through that most radical of conservative agendas: weaken the federal government. And it seems to be working. Allow me to explain.
If government is the problem, why does it seem that only Republicans grow it uncontrollably? If deficit spending is the most evil of evils why is it the worst under Republican control? There’s an actual answer to this: Because the long term objective is to make the government seem to be as ineffectual as possible, thereby reducing the legitimacy of its power to regulate everything from environmental issues to financial issues to social issues. Am I starting to sound Glenn Beckish to you? Do you think I’m becoming a crazed conspiracy theorist? Worry not. I am of sound(ish) mind and, as usual, reality bears me out, or rather, I allow reality to point me in the right direction.
We hear this objective in the quote of Grover Norquist: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” We hear it in Reagan’s punch line: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” We hear, constantly, from the GOP how ineffective the government is and how we need to cut it as much as possible.
But why weaken the government? Wouldn’t that weaken the country? It depends on what your definition of “country” is. To a liberal, “country” is the people. The people that can pool their resources for the benefit of all. The Right calls that “Socialism!.” Real Socialists call this “not even close to real Socialism!” and Liberals call this “being a decent human being.” But that’s not how conservative leaders see the country. Conservatives see the country as money and class to be sorted and separated into the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Ironically, race, religion and other little details are, in the final analysis, unimportant. The Koch brothers could be gay, black atheists and conservative leaders wouldn’t bat an eye as long as they funded the “grassroots” organizations that swept the GOP back into control of the House.
No, weakening the government doesn’t weaken the country because, to the conservative leadership, the country is made up of corporations and the wealthy. What is good for them is the only calculation that matters. Why else give tax cuts to people who clearly do not need it? Why remove every restraint imposed upon Big Business? Why cut funding for any program designed to help the less fortunate? Why break the unions?
The tax cuts are simply the wealth redistribution conservatives rail against, except in reverse. The wealth gap we are currently suffering from is at historic highs and history has shown us that this is not a sustainable course but the rich won’t suffer for it, we will. And by “we” I am also including the vast majority of conservatives who imagine themselves to be a part of that elite group: the rich people that would be so horribly taxed to pay for public parks and food for starving children aka, the top 1%. If this recession has hurt you in any way, shape or form, I have news for you: you are not in the top 1% of earners. That means your money is being taken away from you! It’s being taken away and given to the top 1% that, again, you are not a part of!
Deregulation does not help the economy, it helps the bottom line of polluters and thieves while it poisons and bankrupts us. The worship of the invisible hand is a poor joke played on those who don’t understand that times have changed. The market is no longer self-regulating (if it ever was, which is debatable). The market has been gamed for the benefit of those already on top. Companies can lie, cheat, steal, pollute, kill and maim at will with only the lightest of slaps on the wrist. The Citizens United ruling was the crown jewel of this political movement. Corporations are now the best kind of people; Able to buy elections and absolutely unaccountable for any harm they cause to others. Even Paris Hilton has spent time in jail but Bank of America can destroy the lives of millions and the CEOs collect a nice fat bonus check at the end of the year on the public’s dime. Hey, Republicans! If you can complain about your tax dollars being spent on such morally reprehensible acts like abortion, do I get to withhold my money from your fake war and corporate welfare tax cuts?
Cutting food stamps, Medicare, Social Security and the like is not about saving money. It’s about reducing the government’s role in people’s lives. The “on your own” society is especially appealing to the conservative leadership. They are well aware that a people conditioned to only think about themselves are easily manipulated by “threats” to their well being. Once you have the people afraid, you can sell them anything. How else do you explain the Tea Party’s insistence that their taxes have skyrocketed when they are the lowest in a generation? How else to explain the sudden fear of an “assault” on liberty whereas eight years of Constitutional abuses were blithely ignored? Or, in TPland, is providing for our weakest and most vulnerable less important than spying on political opponents?
Social Security is especially egregious to conservative leaders as it is the poster child for how the people can provide for the most at risk of our citizens, the injured and the elderly. Such a blueprint for a humane society is a vile thing in the eyes of those who serve the dollar and its endless pursuit. They’ve been railing against it since its inception and they’re closer than ever to shredding privatizing it. Bush couldn’t do it with his “mandate” in 2004 but now Social Security has been tied to the deficit by an invisible magic rope and we all know that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING can be sacrificed to ease the deficit. Except for military spending, corporate tax loopholes and the tax cuts on the rich. Those are sacrosanct. Even if the military WANTS the cuts, they ain’t getting them without a fight from Republicans.
Unions are another blasphemy to the church of conservatism and the preachers are out in force, promising hellfire and damnation if the unions get their way. The head of the pack, for now, is Scott Walker of Wisconsin. He might as well be lil’ Bush. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. He came into office on the backs of angry voters and immediately took a projected budget surplus and turned into a shortfall by ramming through unnecessary tax cuts. Where ever have I heard that before? After the “fiscal emergency” was declared, Walker suddenly needed to break the unions that somehow caused the problem by simply existing.
The funniest part of this is the continuing Tea Party support for Walker who gave away their money to big businesses. Think about that. A man robs you, gives the money to Paris Hilton and you still support him. I’ve been asked why I constantly call conservatives “idiots”, “morons”, “imbeciles”, “suckers”, “retarded”, “stupid”, “dumb”, oh you get the point and I usually point to stuff like this. For some reason, it’s never enough to prove my point. What do they have to do? Swallow drain cleaner, slash their wrists and die while voting for Palin/Beck 2012 for the sheer lack of rational thought to become apparent? I mean, seriously, what do they think is going to happen when all of their masters’ fantasies come true? That they’ll be carried to the promised land?
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