Tonight is another Republican klown show, er, “debate,” and there is little doubt that it will be long on chaos and short of proposals that may help the American people. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, of course; things have been this way for a while. If we want to change this country, we have to make up our minds and realize that the current incarnation of the Republican Party is actually the enemy of all that is potentially good about us.
Yes, I know. That sounds harsh. I even had a hard time writing this for a long time. But facts are facts, and it’s difficult to deny these days.
It is true that most American voters want to see bipartisanship, which means they want to see Democrats and Republicans reach across the aisle and work together for the good of the American people. That is one reason, during his first term, President Obama was trying hard to make sure the American people saw him doing that with Republicans. It was equally important for the American people to see that the Republican Party was only reaching back to bite his hand off.
Contrary to what many pundits will tell you, Obama knew they would do that; his goal was for the liberal punditry to make a huge deal out of that and to make Republicans look like partisan hacks who didn’t care about the American people. Instead, the liberal punditry shouted (wholly ironically) at Obama for being naive, and they blamed Democrats for not passing enough legislation, even though the Democratic-run House of Representatives passed 375 bills that the Republican Senate minority were able to block by filibuster, because of the rules they were able to put in place when they were in charge.
In short, Obama was decried as a huge “disappointment” by these liberal pundits for simply appearing to do what the American people wanted him to do, despite the fact that he was able to take advantage of them constantly and make them look foolish. Likewise, these same liberal pundits blamed Democrats for alleged “inaction” and targeted the “Blue Dog Caucus,” a group of Democrats who voted with Democrats most of the time, who never filibustered a Democratic bill and who never assisted Republicans in blocking a single Democratic bill. The result was the 2010 election and a huge step backward.
Five years after progressives and Democrats were turned back and Republicans were put back in power, many of these liberal pundits still don’t get it. What has to happen before this penetrates their thick skulls?
The Republican Party has largely never been a friend to Americans. Well, okay, I suppose they were key to ending slavery, but really, what have they done since? In the last century, they have been at the heart of the two biggest economic disasters during that time; the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Both of them were the result of Republican economic policy. When the stock market crashed, Republican Herbert Hoover did nothing to fix things; his response was to trim the federal budget. He didn’t want to do anything with the banks that would make them mad, even though they had a lot to do with crashing the economy.
As soon as possible, American voters, including progressives, replaced Hoover with FDR, despite the fact that there was little reason to believe his presidency would be transformative. To make a long story short, Republicans were put out into the corn field for a generation. It was Democrats who created the New Deal, Democrats who created the Great Society and Democrats who transformed this country into the model economy the world is following these days in an effort to pass us.
Meanwhile, Republicans have tried to dismantle the New Deal, they want to get rid of entitlements and support for the poor and they don’t believe in investment. To them, every dollar that leaves the Treasury is derogatorally referred to as “spending” and there is no consideration as to how much some “spending” brings into the Treasury. Economically, Republican policy was the reason we needed Glass-Steagall in the first place, then they repealed Glass-Steagall and crashed the economy again. And if that’s not bad enough, since most of Glass-Steagall was restored through Dodd-Frank, they can’t wait to repeal that and return us to the “casino capitalist” model that crashed the economy – twice.
Over the last 50 years, the GOP has recruited right wing whack jobs who used to make up the political fringe – the Birchers, borderline Kluxers and Dixiecrats – and in the process, they have chased just about everyone else out of the GOP, and created a base that truly does not care about their fellow human beings at all. They care about winning and forcing the system to comply with their extremist view of “rights,” which they truly don’t understand, They also don’t care if the country does well or not, as long as the government accedes to their wishes. The Tea Party crazies, in combination with the ironically named “Freedom Caucus” run the party now and it’s not a positive,
As unfair as it sounds, the Republican Party has become the enemy, and the sooner everyone on our side of the debate understands this, the better off the entire country will be. We cannot afford to waste any more political energy on trying to make the Democratic Party more perfect; we have to turn the GOP into a loser and do so immediately.
That does not mean every registered Republican is an asshole. There may be some Republicans who, in their heart, want to do great things for their districts, states and country, but they have allowed their “base” to take over and run the show, and it has to stop. Consider some of the things we have to do as a nation and then consider the odds of getting any of it done with the Republican Party in a position to stop any of it.
- We need to end our complete dependence on fossil fuels. This is not just about climate change, either; it’s about a lot of things. Cleaner air and water, less dependence on other countries who seem to like war a lot, and new industries that present us with economic opportunity and allow us to compete with other countries
- Our system of justice and our approach to law enforcement has to change. Everyone has equal rights, and no one should have to endure a carve-out, based on the biases and prejudices of others.
- We need a new, modern and more reliable energy grid, and we need to build up our technological capabilities and make ourselves competitive again.
- We need to create an actual safety net for the poor, including child care options that allow people to work and job training. No child should ever go hungry, ever, in the richest country in the world.
- We need a much stronger infrastructure, including new roads, bridges, rail, in addition to the energy infrastructure.
- We need to get serious about gun control. By that I mean, we have to stop pretending “shall not be infringed” means there is nothing we can do to regulate guns and keep them out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have one. Just as importantly, we also have to know who owns guns and make sure they’re responsible with their arms.
- We need to make sure every single person in this country who works for a living is able to pay for the things he or she needs to have a decent basic life.
- We need to make sure every person in this country can go to a doctor and receive the health care they need, period. Also, all health care should be between patient and doctor and no one else should have anything to say about it.
- We need to reinforce and restore our democratic system and stop allowing people to buy an advantage. I don’t buy into the BS that our system is broken, but we do have some work to do to make it more viable. That includes passing laws that get rid of the atrocity that is Citizens United and to restore reasonable limits to campaign finance.
That is just a small list of the things we have to do as a nation. And there are two statements that I can make, unequivocally, that are both true.
1. With Republicans in a congressional majority, or even a significant enough minority to block legislation, not one of the above things will ever happen.
2. With Democrats in a majority and having the White House, there is a fighting chance to get all or most of the above done.
No more triangulation on our side, progressives. The current version of the Republican Party is the enemy and it’s time to stop beating around the bush and start doing everything we can to defeat them.
Want to “fix the system”? That’s the first and most important step. Target the GOP. You’ll see exactly why if you watch the “debate” tonight.