Republicans versus Reepos

August 17, 2012 at 8:06 am | Posted in Climate change, Disinformation, Dysfunctional Politics, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Global warming | 1 Comment
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I used to vote mostly for Republicans.

I contributed to the campaign of our local Representative, a thoughtful Republican who considered each issue on its merits, was pragmatic rather than ideological, and did not toe any party line.

The 1994 Contract With America delighted me.  (Does anyone remember it?)

But then the Republican Party zombified itself.  The change became noticeable in 1994.

Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and their ilk elevated ideology and party loyalty over pragmatic choices.  They sneered at compromise and bi-partisanship, as if they had a monopoly on truth.  Their policy was to stay on message, never revising their positions, regardless of the facts.  Thus they became rationalizers for what would benefit the rich, and purveyors of disinformation.

They ignored the data on climate change.  They saw no need to protect the public against unsafe food, or unscrupulous financiers.  They forgot the great economic lesson of the 20th Century: that an economy can grow stably and generate abundant jobs only when income is widely distributed, so that the many have the means to buy.  They systematically sought to dismantle labor unions.

They became ethically and politically repulsive.  They were no longer Republicans.  They had become Reepos.

The Grand Old Party became instead the Greedy Old Pricks.

Perhaps it would be more polite to replace GOP by POG, for Party of Greed.

The GOP complains about class warfare, but the only class warfare right now is that waged by the Reepos against everyone else.

I grudgingly realized that however much I liked the work done by my local Representative, as long as my Representative was a Republican, that person would have to vote for a dishonorable Speaker of the House.

It is even worse now.

After President Obama’s election, the leading Republicans in the Senate and House said out loud that they would do everything possible to make Obama a one-term President.  They would vote against anything that Obama and other Democrats proposed, regardless of its merits.  In other words, party took priority over patriotism.  For the sake of attacking President Obama, they opposed the very features of his health care plan that he had learned from them.  The elected Republicans became the Party of No, the party of obstruction, the party of no compromise.

Opposition to even the possibility of compromise is un-American, because it is contrary to the goal of an open society, which is the most fundamental principle of the original United States.  An open society was the goal because of its greatest strength, which is the self-correcting ability it derives from give and take, loyal dissent, and compromise, rather than winner-take-all.

The Republican party has lost its previous understanding that a large and growing middle class was essential, both economically and for political stability, that robber barons are bad, that capitalism has to be regulated for its own good, and that – as the Founders so clearly understood – essential functions that benefit all must be funded by all, via the government, and therefore that government and taxes are indispensible.

What the Republican Party has become fulfills George Washington’s worst fears about what partisanship would do to the country.  In his Farewell Address  (December 19, 1796) Washington said that partisanship “serves always to distract the Public Councils and enfeeble the Public administration. It agitates the Community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against the other, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”  That accurately describes us, today.  (As for the last phrase in that quote, think of the right wing demogogues on TV, and how their message affects racial purists and the unstable.)

I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “Not a Republican”.  But the old Republicans were honorable and contributed beneficially to the civic dialog.  “Not A Reepo” would have more accurately represented the thought underlying the bumper sticker.

Would Romney Become More Centrist If Elected?

July 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Dysfunctional Politics, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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As many have noted, to win the Republican Primary, Willard Mitt Romney has had to appease the most rabid wing of his party.  He even had to disown his own greatest accomplishment so far, the health care reform that he engineered in Massachusetts.  He has also had to reverse his previous public pro-choice position on abortion.

If elected, could he revert to his earlier, more balanced positions?

To be clear, the question here concerns only the views that he changed because he had to say what the right wing of his party insisted on hearing.  It does not concern his views on the merits of increasing the riches and the power of his own class, the economically privileged, and his resulting promise to return to the policies that caused the recent economic mess.  Those views he holds sincerely,

If elected, Romney would want a second term.  He could not risk alienating the ultra-conservative wing of his party.  Romney’s history shows that he takes a long term, multi-year approach to campaigning.  So from day one of his first term, he would avoid reverting to the positions that he had to disown to win the Primary.

It is worth noting why Romney had to disown several of his own views to win the Primary.  Most seats in the House and Senate are safe seats.  That is, voting in the affected Congressional District is dominated by a single party, and whoever wins that party’s nomination for the House, Senate or Presidency will automatically win that district”s election.  Candidates in such a district cannot win by crafting a position that will appeal across party lines.  They must instead appeal to their own party’s most ardent voters and activists, who are predominantly the most ideological and rigid.  They are uncompromising.  The increased number of safe seats is why US politics has become so dysfunctionally partisan and uncompromising.

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