Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Continuing Loss of Our Political Representation: Part I

R.I.P:  The Once, Grand Old Party
S. Paul Forrest

In 1987, as a young, hard working American who had aspirations to go to college and take advantage of the American opportunity I had learned so much about, I registered to vote as a Republican.  I did so because to me, they represented ambition and spoke to that part of me that was tired of working my bottom off only to see others do nothing and live off the State Dole.  The display of laziness from some of the people in our society who had chosen to not pull their own weight was representative of disrespect for not only America but the principles of pride in hard work which is a founding characteristic of our great society.

During this time, jobs were plentiful and opportunity was everywhere.  The social safety net, instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to support our society in a time of need, was being expanded to allow freeloaders and system abusers to make a living from doing nothing.  There was work enough for everyone but those who didn’t take advantage of it that weren’t in some way, incapable because of real disabilities, were just feeding off the system.

As the years marched on though, our economic situation slowly began to degrade due to over speculation and greed from corporations and their political support system.  In 2006, the market began to stall and by 2007, we were facing another Depression.  During this time, people who did represent our great American work ethic lost their jobs, some their homes and others, their hope.  This was the time when the social safety net was needed as it was originally designed.

In 2008, when the Republican Party began their assault upon the Obama Administration, I thought it was just part of the control factor intrinsic between party rivals but as time went on, the Republicans began to show a side that reminded me of the story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  On one side of this personality, they promised jobs, investment in America and prosperity; on the other, they fed the corporatist monster while trying to take safety nets from We the People. This duel personality, this dichotomy of unreasoned response, which seemed to stem from the same anxiety that turned Dr. Jekyll into an out of control monster, was turning the G.O.P. into a monster of social denial to benefit only the rich.

Now, in 2011, many people need safety nets more than ever to provide for their families.   The Republican answer to these struggles is so greatly disturbing and anti-American that my Republican registration and support of the party in the past looms over my conscience as the greatest mistake of my adult life.  The same party who I thought valued an American struggle that once made this country great, has turned its back on those citizens who so desperately need their support.  

Currently, the Republicans are banding together to take the social support systems away in order to favor those corporations who contributed to our present debacle.  This is not the Party I was once proud to be a member of; neither is it a Party that represents America any longer.  It has become a Party filled with extremists and zealots holding up a banner of deception to support themselves only.  In my reflections of what once made this Party great, I can only hang my head in sadness and say: May you Rest in Peace, you once, Grand Old Party.

The Article:
The Republican Party used to be the anchor with which this Nation stayed in the safety of our democratic harbor, protected from the waves of Liberal radicalism and its associated socialist philosophies. Today’s Republican Party though, is seemingly entrenched only in the ideological battlefields of Christian extremism and the politics of demeaning rhetoric against the opposing side without attempting to change this country to the benefit of us all.  Unless the G.O.P. soon finds its focus and embarks upon a real vision for American reclamation and prosperity for all, Barrack Obama is sure to win another term as President of these United States.

The Republican Party has had its beginnings engraved into the idea of Freedom and Liberty for the American People.  USHistory.org tells us;

“The Republican Party name was christened in an editorial written by New York newspaper magnate Horace Greeley. Greeley printed in June 1854: "We should not care much whether those thus united (against slavery) were designated 'Whig,' 'Free Democrat' or something else; though we think some simple name like 'Republican' would more fitly designate those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than a propagandist of slavery."

Today and for the past 15 years however, this great history stands in direct conflict with their present day philosophies. 

The Party that once stood against the enslavement of our African cousins and demonstrated that Liberty was meant to encompass the ideals of a unified Nation and not just an entitlement enjoyed by the few now has now taken a stance that is the polar opposite of its beginning philosophy.  At every turn, Republicans have rallied behind the policy of lessening our great heritage of supporting American hard work only to surrender it to their financial contributors and corporate based interests.

To a people struggling to make ends meet and feeling the crush of corrupt, governmental taxation, the exportation of their jobs and an out of control bureaucracy in Washington, the Tea Party quickly became a beacon of light in a rapidly darkening tunnel.  Originally formed to represent a middle-of-the-road approach to a return of freedom from excessive taxation and the resurgence of individual liberty, Party members are now enacting policies to surrender our futures for profit.  Now though, they serve only as a reminder that we can no longer trust our politicians and their promises of change.  These two sides of the Republican Party now serve only as tools to propel the destructive agenda of a very confused political personae.

The original Preamble of Tea Party Movement clearly states that it is “an all-inclusive American grassroots movement with the belief that everyone is created equal and deserves an equal opportunity to thrive in these United States where they may ‘pursue life, liberty and happiness’ as stated in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. “  This preamble clearly was surrendered as the Party became hijacked by corporate interests and politicians who only wanted to serve themselves. 

Today’s Republicans have all taken to imposing upon the People who elected them into office the distressing fate of corporate favoritism in exchange for society’s financial security.  Many of their initiatives are detrimental to the future of this Nation.  It is very understandable that the fiscal dilemma facing this Nation is great but eliminating care for your people to favor the few on Wall Street is a crime against We the People, bordering on treason.

The Attack on Social Programs
These people’s “representatives” keep repeating the same mantra of American values and fiscal responsibility but recent, Republican election victors of the 2010 Gubernatorial races like Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio, Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Mitch Daniels of Indiana all share the same corporatist philosophies in their approach to conservative “fiscal responsibility” and self proclaimed roles as “deficit hawks”.

The contradiction of this stance is best described by Greg Sargent in the following:

The term "deficit hawk," as it's commonly used in Washington, simply doesn't mean "someone who fully committed to reducing the deficit by any means necessary, tax hikes included."  Rather, it means "someone who is fully committed to reducing the deficit through tax cuts, entitlement reform and frequent expressions of general hostility towards government.  It has been arbitrarily decided that tax hikes on the rich carry an aura of big government liberal squishiness and hence can't be associated with whatever people think they mean by the word "hawk." Shifting the tax burden upwards is "soft," the stuff of bleeding hearts. Shifting it down is "hard" and "tough."

As an example of this approach, the aforementioned, Republican Governors each have each undermined our education system by de-funding it under the guise of eliminating the bureaucracy of the Department of Education and the Unions.  The only eliminations though, have been teacher’s jobs and those who weren’t fired, had to take pay cuts and loss of benefits while the schools they teach in have had their funds decreased or in the case of many schools in Detroit, eliminated all together. 

In addition, programs that were meant to protect We the People and our children in times of economic distress are also falling into the hash marks (or surveyors symbols) of the budget snipers.  Under Governor Strickland’s proposed budget for example, funding for child protective services will be cut by $62 million when the case reports are at an all time high.

The Director of the Hancock County Department of Job and Family Services, Judy Wauford, says that she has lost a large portion of her staff and most of her funding for protective services. Under these conditions, protective service agencies are finding it difficult to keep up with the cases and respond to complaints within 24 hours as mandated by the state.

Similarly, Rick Scott in Florida, like Scott Walker in Wisconsin is cutting funding to education and child protection services and has passed a measure that allows insurance companies to limit sinkhole coverage, raise rates and cover re-insurance costs. The measure, SB 408, also shortens the window for filing wind storm and hurricane claims. This bill, which was backed by the insurance industry, aims at making it harder for homeowners to collect on sinkhole and hurricane claims.  In the meantime, yachts have become exempt from taxation and corporations reap the rewards of his fiscal conservatism.

Politifact tells us the following regarding Scott’s efforts to “help” Floridians:

“Two of the three biggest tax cuts -- the reduction of the corporate income tax and the changes to the unemployment compensation tax -- apply only to corporations. So unless your household is like Rick Scott's and you own a corporation, you'll see no direct savings under Scott's plans. Supporters of the cuts argue that the benefits could trickle down to average Floridians through additional jobs or cheaper prices for goods and services. But there's no guarantee either will happen.

The cuts to the corporate income tax and the unemployment compensation tax make up $2.1 billion of Scott's overall $4.1 billion impact.

In comments to the Senate Budget Committee on Feb. 9, 2011, Scott budget chief Jerry McDaniel said Scott's top tax priority was to remove taxes that he says inhibit job creation. McDaniel said Scott particularly wanted to reduce and eventually eliminate the state's corporate income tax.”

America Now, Roman Empire Then makes the following, poignant statement;

“Where do these conservative ideas come from, which demand that Texas cut its budget by about a quarter ($23 billion), to meet its shortfall, at the expense of its children (and its future), while not raising taxes on corporations, or millionaires and billionaires by one cent--and cutting taxes on yachts? Even worse is the spectacle of Florida's Rick Scott, who simultaneously lowered "business" taxes by billions, to be paid for by corresponding billions of cuts in education and unemployment compensation.”

Where do they come from, indeed.  Where do the ideas that the top 2% should be favored over the 98% who pay all the taxes, produce all the goods and fight all the wars this country wages across the Globe come from?  When did we move back to pre-Civil War days of the enslavement of a people for the profit of a few?  And how long will it be before the people revolt as in the days when Marie-Therese said the peasants should eat cake for the lack of bread in the most cynical and dismissive of statements?

The False Renewal of American Values
These “representatives” have en masse embarked upon a mission of depriving us Americans of the liberties guaranteed under the Constitution while waving our flag and holding up a Bible, claiming we must return to family values only to gain our votes and then, embark upon a mission to deny us the ability to provide for our families. 

Sadly, the actions these quasi, people’s representatives took once in office stands as a true testament to the destruction of today’s Republican ideals and their loss of political integrity.  Everyday, we who pay attention to the political circus suffer through the distorted views of a Party committed solely to deception in order to enable a corporatist agenda and support those who paid for their campaigns. 

I can only assume that these Republicans believe in their hearts and minds that this value of corporatist enrichment stands for freedom and equal opportunity.  Why else would they so fiercely pursue them? They do really believe in Trickle Down theory even when it has been proven to be an utter failure.  Reagan, Bush I and Bush II all vehemently tried to make this theory work but none were able to do so.  T.D.E. is nothing more than an acronym for Total Destruction of our Economy as demonstrated by the Bush Era and the increasingly real likelihood of several more years of the American people suffering for it and even longer if they regain the White House.

In an effort to hold on to whatever integrity they do still possess, Republicans and their TEA Party constituents have, en masse, boarded the Christian centered family values bandwagon traveling on the road of hypocrisy.  A return to family values is the mantra of this party that continues to distort and ignore the reality of our present society.  They condemn abortion as an immoral action, condemn homosexuality as an immoral crime and constantly tell us all that America is in its present position because of these social negatives.  Anything to avoid looking into the mirror.

The same policies the Republican Party now is trying so hard to convince the American people will bring us out of our current demise were directly responsible for it.  Under George W. Bush, corporations were deregulated to encourage their trickle down economics. Tax breaks were given to the rich, a war was begun that cost this nation vast amounts of debt and illegal immigration increased three fold as opposed to our current administration and the one which preceded it. Republicans continue to make pledges to America to bring jobs in order to win elections but to date have done absolutely nothing to bring those promises to fruition.

Instead of them standing up for We the People, Republican politicians in Washington and in the States mentioned previously, have been working tirelessly to label social support as unnecessary entitlements in order to eliminate them in exchange for corporate enrichment. In this effort, Unions are targeted to be destroyed so as to provide an underpaid, non-represented work force for corporations in the spirit of an efficient workforce model in order to encourage investment in America. So as part of our future, we must all learn to accept the same low wage working conditions workers in China, Indonesia and North Korea all enjoy.

These entities persist in claiming that Obama caused our current economic woes while hiding behind shallow political rhetoric.  A real leader does not lay blame on others. A real leader takes the reigns and propels actions to better the situation. The past three years have only shown that Republicans are not leaders. They continually pass judgment on the Democrats, blaming them for ruining our country and have taken no responsibility for their own role in this financial debacle. That is not leadership; that is cowardice.

The vision the G.O.P. has for our future is one We the People should not have to experience again.  The time has come for someone to represent our country and our individual liberties instead of enriching the few and empowering the corporate state. The Republican vision of tomorrow, the same vision that G.W. Bush had and the philosophy which has brought upon this great nation the economic disaster we are suffering for today is a sure course toward another recession and perhaps, another depression if left unchecked. 

The Solution?
What is the most confusing in all of these quasi-efforts to fix the problems of jobs in the country is how the Republicans think dismantling all social programs, including education in order to give tax breaks to corporations, is how we can bring prosperity to America again.  Their only focus has been to reduce social spending and the continued delusions of T.D.E.  Though spending control is important, there should also be a great deal of effort to increase our Gross Nation Product.  Reactive policy in lieu of a long term plan for stabilizing our Nation is desperately needed.

Corporatist entitlement is what put this Nation in trouble to begin with.  The enactment of NAFTA and CAFTA with the associated decrease in tariffs and taxes on corporations operating abroad, have enabled the exportation of our jobs.  The Republicans believe the answer is to eliminate Unions or force workers to make less money with less benefits but that does nothing but create a Nation of paupers.

The only way to fix our economic problem is to negate the damaging effects of free-trade agreements which have allowed corporations to import their products tariff-free.  We must enact a high tax on any imported goods from other countries and close the loopholes of corporations holding executive offices in America for tax breaks while producing their goods in other nations. We have to make it economically infeasible for companies to operate outside of the United States else they will continue to operate in the same damaging fashion they have been for the past 15 years, robbing us of our livelihoods. Only in this way will American industry rebound so our jobs can come home again.

Likewise, the Republican push to lessen government is the right thing to do but by instituting it without job swapping, it will only serve to increase unemployment and lessen consumer confidence.  When this occurs, the market slows and we double dip this recession.  If the G.O.P. wants to truly benefit their masters on Wall Street, they would come up with a viable solution to supplant the public sector jobs with privatized ones. The Federal Government is the Nation's single largest employer.  We cannot afford to have this type of short term thinking and political hacking eliminating millions of jobs in hope that the short term paper gains will elude the reality of the associative economic backlash.

If We the People truly want change, we must show up in large numbers to take advantage of our Democratic right. In the last election, only 33% of the population showed up and out of that number, 75% were Republican. Is this the way you want to go out?  Lost for lack of effort?  One would be served to remember that voting is not only a right, it is a responsibility.  Make your voice heard and be a part of this great Nation instead of a bystander.

Today’s Republican Party will have us all crawling to survive the present economic disaster after they’ve robbed us of the futures so many have fought and died for in this great Nation.  This is not a Party who cares for America anymore.  They have come to embody the words of Sinclair Lewis; “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross”. They have lied to us and deceived us through media manipulation and false values only to enrich themselves and their corporate contributors.  This particular side of the two party coin deserves to have the following words spoken in tribute to how far they have come since the days of old; May you Rest in Peace, you once, Grand Old Party. 

This is part one of a two part piece.  Next time I will concentrate on the so called, Democratic Party

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