Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Sen. Orrin Hatch, speaking of the Children’s Health Insurance Program: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, who won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, speaking of the estate tax repeal: I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing — as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

It's comments like these that lead me to believe that Republican politicians are not only misguided in their policies, but also--forgive me--pretty awful human beings. I'd prefer to be able to stand back, take the Middle Path, and see past the purely political differences of approach to social issues. I'd like to be able to believe in good intentions on both sides. But statements like those above confirm my less reasonable beliefs, the ones that come from the gut and not the part of me that aspires to rational judgment. I'll confess to having an instinctive distrust of anything that comes from the right side of the political aisle.

I think they have earned this mistrust. I have been watching for several decades now as they have worked--cunningly, and with regrettable success--to disempower the electorate and empower themselves in local, state, and federal government. What with gerrymandering--a strategy that Republicans have used with far greater success than Democrats--and the channeling of money into the political process through campaign donations, lobbying, and the ultimate insult of Citizens United, they would now appear close to having a stranglehold on power. I have been watching as they have crippled the public education system by choking off needed funds; as they have sought to pass over such basic government responsibilities as health care, the prison system, the nation's infrastructure, even the military into private, profit-making hands; as they have continued to enrich the rich and further impoverish the needy and the poor.

The Republican Party, it seems to me, has surrendered its heart and soul to the mean-spirited creed of libertarianism, where any sense of social responsibility and the common good is subordinated to the exercise of every individual's personal grasp for material well-being. Any restraint on my personal pursuit of success--whether by government or, it seems, by moral imperative or humanitarian concern--is viewed as intolerable. Even the planet that is our only home is ripe for egregious abuse and exploitation, so long as someone needs to turn a profit, as scientific evidence is dismissed with cynical denial. 

As bad, if not worse, individual Republican politicians have surrendered their minds to party allegiance. They appear not to be able to think or act for themselves, but must toe the party line on every issue. Individual conscience, like individual thought, is cast aside in favor of group-think and the single-minded pursuit of partisan goals. (Democrats, by contrast, seem all too happy to stand in a circular firing squad in order to assert even the pettiest of disagreements! Their squabbles are legion.) Even that "maverick", John McCain, stepped back quietly into line on passage of the mis-named Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, despite his earlier, seemingly principled stand on a "return to regular order." 

I do not see an equivalence here. I know that many cast blame equally on both political parties for the current deplorable standoff in our government. Try as I might to put myself in Republican shoes and see things from their point of view, I'm unable to find a justification for the harm they have wrought, and continue to wreak, on our democracy.

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