On October 9, 2010, as the 2010 election approached, I posted an article in LA Progressive entitled “What Is a Republican?” I concluded that the typical Republican Party member was someone who was excessively politically naïve, excessively greedy, a racist, or a combination of all three. Since last year’s “shellacking” (except in California), I have refined my opinion of those who still claim membership in the Grand Old Party.
Here is what the 2011 Republican stands for:
- Opposes women’s rights, or at least a woman’s right to choose to give birth or not, and many Republicans would say that even if the woman was a victim of incest or rape, she must give birth. Today, an unborn fetus has more rights than a pregnant woman. They want to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood? Ridiculous. They would have American women be treated like those poor hooded Muslim women being dragged around in the heat by their balding, insecure little hairy men.
- Opposes fixing our air and water. Republicans’ head-in-the-sand attitude about global warming and water quality just kicks the problem down the road for our unborn children to deal with, when it may be too late. Absurdly, they also want to defund the EPA (which was created by that great liberal Republican President, Richard Nixon).
- Opposes a responsible energy policy. It is “drill, baby, drill”, messing up the environment even more. Remember the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Most Republicans have forgotten it. And they have no problem letting the Wall Street operatives speculate on oil futures, like they did in the first half of 2008, when the price of oil reached $147 a barrel. Alternate energy? Just “nuc-u-lar”, baby.
- Wars. The Democrats used to be the “party of war”, with the First and Second World Wars, Korea and Vietnam begun on their watch, but in recent years the Republicans have done a pretty good job of claiming that title – Granada, Panama, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq all began under Republican Presidents.
- The Military. America is now sending about 2% of our youth into combat, mostly lesser educated, lower class Southerners who revolve into and out of war zones until they come home as damaged human beings or in a box. Rather than having our wars fought by “citizen soldiers”, we are creating a permanent class of military personnel who serve in perpetual combat. Most Americans under 60 have not served in the military (I have, as a Navy JAG officer in the Vietnam War), and don’t know many people younger than themselves who have served. Example: all of John McCain’s male ancestors, going back to the Revolutionary War, have served in the military, many of them as career officers. No wonder he sings “Bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” – his mindset is inbred military.
- Religion. Republicans, as much as they say they admire the Constitution, don’t think much of the separation of church and state. Many Republicans want to force-feed their evangelical Christian beliefs onto Americans of other faiths, or who choose not to practice any religion. A prime example is the fundamentalist Florida pastor who burned the Koran a week or so ago, which led to 21 deaths in Afghanistan at the hands of Muslim radicals protesting the burning. Yes, he was exercising his “free speech”, but his actions came awfully close to yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater when there was no fire. There are limits on free speech in the name of religious freedom.
- The Deficit. When out of power, Republicans treat the deficit as all-important, but when in power, they seem to forget about it. Witness the $10 billion increase in the national debt under President George Bush and his Republican cronies. If the Republicans happen to take over the Senate and Presidency in 2012, the deficit will once again be forgotten. And all this Republican talk about “the deficit” masks the fact that future ruinous deficits are based on conservative assumptions about future GNP growth. If it is more robust than predicted, the deficit shrinks proportionately. It is a shell game.
- Education. Republicans seem not to care about the state of our public schools (I am a graduate of one), or about laying off teachers. After all, most of them send their kids to private or church-sponsored schools, so let the children of the rest of us rot in miserable, poorly funded public schools.
- Taxes. The Republican mantra is that lowering taxes forces more money into the system, stimulating growth and creating jobs, so we should lower taxes on the rich even more than has already been done. Taxes are at their lowest levels in over 50 years, but Republicans feel the current tax rates are “job-killing”. The real interest of the Republican Party today is to reward rich Americans like the Koch brothers with increasingly lower taxes so they will increase their campaign contributions to Republicans, so they can be reelected. They don’t seem to be concerned that America is rapidly becoming an oligarchy rather than a democracy, with a small ultra-rich upper class, a small middle class, and a huge, downtrodden lower class. 2% of Americans control over 50% of the wealth in this country.
- Infrastructure. Republicans want to kick the fixing infrastructure can down the road until they are no longer in office, letting future generations pay for fixing collapsing bridges and dealing with gridlocked highways.
- Shutting down the government. Republicans (especially their Tea Party wing, which is rapidly taking over the GOP) believe government is evil, and they have no use for public employees except for policemen and firemen. They believe the rest of our public servants are worthless DMV slackers who should be fired. But once you scramble the egg, it is difficult to put it back together again.
- Healthcare. Republicans believe that healthcare is a privilege, not a right, contrary to just about every other developed country in the world. They shamelessly refer to basic healthcare derisively as “Obamacare”.
- Business and banks. The Republicans want to leave the business and banking communities totally unregulated, allowing them to exercise unrestrained greed for their own benefit, so that the gravy train of corporate contributions to the Republican Party will continue unabated. And the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opens the door for unrestrained corporate-funded media advertising benefiting the Republicans to run rampant in 2012. Witness the unrelenting, slick television ads by unknown financial backers using ex-Governor Mike Huckabee as a huckster opposing Obama’s healthcare law. What used to be seen only in John Birch Society meetings is now being shown regularly on mainstream television with Koch-fueled money.
- Patriotism. Former Democratic Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson said in 1952 that patriotism “is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime”. The Teabaggers use a perverted view of patriotism to show that they have the inside track on what it takes to be a “patriotic American”. I am a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, a little known organization founded by George Washington in 1783 and then consisting of the officers who served under him in the Revolutionary War. Its purpose was to lobby for benefits for Revolutionary War veterans, and to preserve for future generations of Americans the heroism and sacrifice that occurred in the War. As a descendant of one of those officers, I have been pleased to help keep alive the Revolutionary War spirit of our ancestors. The Society is not a flag-waving Tea Party – type movement, but a nonpolitical, nonprofit organization which hopes to educate Americans regarding the War with its public programs, its book “Why America is Free”, and a six week course entitled “Values Through History”, which is offered to fifth graders.
The ultimate Republican strategy for the 2012 election is this: they know that they will lose if the economy continues to improve and unemployment figures drop substantially. Their 2012 game plan is to delay or destroy the economic recovery the country has seen since Obama was elected, following the Bush meltdown, by shutting down the government, laying off public employees (which will also pump up the unemployment figures), and continuing to “starve the beast” by lowering taxes even further, particularly for things that assist the lower classes and the poor. Of course, lower taxes would also increase the “Obama deficit”, which they would blame on Obama. This Republican game plan clearly puts political expediency above the national interest.
The Republicans have misread their “mandate” from the 2010 elections. It was not a mandate to shut the government down, but rather the voters showed impatience with the high unemployment rate and the rate of recovery from the Bush meltdown. Young voters sat on their hands (unlike in 2008), independents shifted back to the Republicans, and older Americans worried about the Democrats taking their Social Security and Medicare. But guess what? It is the Republicans who plan to do that…
“I would like to make a proposition to my Republican friends…that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” (October 15, 1952)
Ted Vaill has been a lawyer in Los Angeles for over 40 years, and is in his second term as an elected delegate to the California Democratic Convention from the 41st Assembly District. At the Convention later this month, he is sponsoring a Resolution urging the boycott of the State of Arizona due to its lax gun control laws and treatment of Hispanics.