Donald L. Foley, National Business Agent, retired
Are you a Republican? Because your father or your mother was? Because you view yourself as conservative? First let me ask, are you an American with the values I believe are held by most Americans? Most Americans are possessed of a deep desire to see the world of our children a better place than the world we grew up in. Most Americans are compassionate; we often favor the underdog. We feel a dedication to the idea that all men and women are created equal and ought not to be trampled upon by the wealthy and powerful. We believe avarice is a vice not a virtue and that each of us deserves to be protected from the powerful and avaricious. We expect protection from exploitation of ourselves, our fellow human beings and our land. We expect government to spend our tax dollars wisely and to protect us; we want good highways, good schools, real and adequate public services. We have a belief that every human being has a right to a decent standard of living, and to receive assistance in achieving that, if needed. We believe that poverty is an evil that an enlightened society can alleviate, and that everyone deserves adequate health care.
If you believe these things, either take back the Republican Party from those who have commandeered it to serve only the wealthy and powerful – or admit that the “Grand Old Party” can no longer represent you. But whatever you do, don’t believe for a minute that today’s GOP is a conservative party representing ordinary American citizens.
Today’s Republican Party is not the party that put Dwight Eisenhower into the White House – nor Richard Nixon nor, even, Bush No.1. It is not a conservative, fiscally responsible party dedicated to American values.
It’s not your father’s GOP. The Republican Party has apparently abandoned its old role as the voice of conservatism in America. You remember, the Democratic Party was the “liberal” side of American politics; the Republican Party was the “conservative” side. Two sides of one coin. Well, in case you have missed it that coin is now held exclusively by the Democratic Party. The Republicans, on the other hand, have been taken over by a radical element fully supported and manipulated by the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the world. The GOP proclaims the supremacy of the individual, as if that could create a civilized world.
Certainly, the allure of the lone individual carving out a homestead, a settlement, a business on his or her own – demonstrating strength of character and the ability to take advantage of opportunities that accrue from freedom – is attractive. But most of us know that those who strike out on their own, without help from anyone often barely eke out a living, struggle just to survive and often fail miserably. Most of us recognize that there is, indeed, strength in numbers; that humans are social animals who value the support of our families and of society in general; that it was a communal effort of thousands of individuals who joined together to form America as a nation. We recognize that we do not want to live in a dog-eat-dog world, having to compete for every scrap we can wrest from someone less fortunate. But that is exactly what today’s GOP offers America.
Led now by Mitt Rmoney, the GOP advocates a radical perversion of traditional American values. He and the Republican party advocate radical individualism that would only protect the richest and most avaricious. They claim that the wealthiest Americans and the corporations they run should be set free of burdensome taxation and regulation – and that this “freedom” would benefit the entire country. Unfortunately, there is simply no evidence to support the propaganda.
When the wealthiest and their corporations paid the highest taxes ever in the four decades after World War II, the country boomed and produced a vibrant “middle class” composed largely of ordinary working class Americans. The GOP’s darling Ronald Reagan began dismantling that and the “middle class” has spiraled down since then to a point, now, where it may soon not be populated by any ordinary working class Americans. After George W. Bush’s famous tax cuts for the wealthy (the so-called “job creators”) the country only declined and our national debt grew exponentially. We ended the Bush years of radical trickle down economics and deregulated capitalism with the Great Recession of 2008-2009. One of the consequences of that economic collapse was the transfer of billions of dollars of wealth from the “middle class” to the wealthiest. We have yet to fully recover from the plundering of our wealth, struggling under GOP obstruction of every effort by President Obama to produce jobs and recovery.
Rather than pursue reform and recovery, GOP candidate Rmoney would continue, if not increase, the free ride for the wealthiest and their corporations on claims that “job creators” ought not be burdened with an “increase” in taxes. But, if decreasing the “job creators” tax burden were good for the economy, the GOP cannot explain why millions of jobs were lost from the economy during the Bush presidency and especially because of the Great Recession or why American corporations now sitting on more than $2 trillion dollars in unused capital are not “creating” jobs. In fact, neither Rmoney nor the GOP can rationally explain much. But then, maybe they don’t need to.
Maybe the GOP is right. Maybe American voters will be persuaded by lies and distortions of fact. Maybe the radical minority who support the GOP radical social issues will turn out enough votes to put Rmoney over the top, because that minority really does not pay attention to what really motivates the Rmoney GOP – more wealth for the wealthy.
But, if Rmoney and the GOP prevail in November, will you be prepared for their promises? Will you be prepared to see women denied all forms of family planning? Will you welcome the elimination of the school lunch program? The end of food stamps for poor people struggling to feed their families? The elimination of federal assistance for college loans and Pell Grants? The end of Social Security as a defined benefit program, converted to individual 401k Wall Street casino accounts? The end of Medicare as a defined benefit program, converted to individual health insurance shopping? Will you welcome the end to collective bargaining as unions become regulated out of existence? Will you be rewarded by the “I’ve-Got-Mine” GOP agenda? And, really, isn’t that what today’s GOP is all about? If you cannot make it on your own, tough shit. Roosevelt had the “Fair Deal” program to restore the economy, Johnson had the “Great Society” program to end poverty – today’s GOP has the “I’ve Got Mine” agenda for America.
Will you vote for all these things? Or will you vote to preserve fundamental American values and send President Obama back to the White House in the hope of seeing him move the country forward?
There are many things I had hoped for from President Obama that he has not done; there are many things President Obama has done that I find infuriating. But I will be working for his reelection and voting to return him to the White House. It is not merely the classic choice of the lesser of two evils; it is a matter of hoping to preserve what America is supposed to be about.