|Republican Genius: Democratic Complicity by Steve Jonas|
March 30, 2016
Many observers, especially on the Left, think that the Republican Party is pretty dumb.
After all, look at their programs: none designed to even approach fixing any of the country’s major problems. Look at the role they play in the Congress. Since the accession of President Obama, they have made obstructionism into a malevolent art form. Then one looks at the quality of their political leadership (and since Trump is not a political leader, I am not including him in the assessment). Pretty low level, no? No demonstrated intellect (not even the one who went to Harvard College and Law School). A level of knowledge of say, world affairs, that is generally abysmal.
A collection of folk that has included a neurosurgeon who claimed that he was qualified to deal with a national emergency because he had been awakened at night to deal with medical emergencies that required the mobilization of at least 15 different medical, nursing and technical personnel. And then there was the failed HP exec. And as for the Tea-Partiers? How about Steve King of Iowa who once described Mexican children as capable of hauling 70 lb. sacs of marijuana across the Arizona desert? And who can forget Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin? And so on and so forth.
So, you might ask, how can I describe Republican Genius? Well (and I am not telling you something you don’t already know) virtually every major problem our nation faces is either the outcome of Republican policy or has been made worse by it. Consider; the export of capital and with it millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs; the decline of trade-unionism and the concomitant decline of real wages; the breeding of the super-rich and ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else; the increasing monetarization of the political system; the crumbling of major parts of the national infrastructure and the obsolescence of much of the rest; the gradual destruction of the educational system, at all levels; the further destruction of electoral democracy (never at a terribly high level because the proportion of eligibles voting has always been so low compared with that found in most other capitalist democracies) through gerrymandering and outright voter suppression; the steady decline of the proportion of the tax burden borne by the rich; the unevenness combined with very high cost of the health care delivery system; the dominance in the national economy of the military-industrial complex which then needs war(s) to justify its continued existence at a high level of public expenditure; and so on and so forth.
So what is the Republican Genius? It is that particularly in the current Presidential election campaign, they are able to take those elements of the list above that they choose to emphasize (certainly all of them) and blame them on the Democrats, especially the Obama Administration. Three of the four (at the time of writing) remaining GOP candidates describe the country as being in a terrible place, while the fourth (Kasich) describes it as pretty bad. Trump’s primary appeal is of course his racism and authoritarianism, but he does harp away on the “bad trade deals” and resulting massive loss of jobs. They describe a failing VA system. They (again especially Trump) describe the crumbling infra-structure. And so on and so forth.
Then they point repeatedly to the “dysfunctional government in Washington” as a major cause of the problems on the list, if not The Cause. And too many U.S. persons, whether they are Trump supporters or just ordinary Republicans, actually believe them. In the face of a set of glaring contradictory facts. “Free trade” (really meaning the free export of capital; free, or relatively free, trade can exist without capital exportation) has been Republican [policy since the days of Nixon. The most recent GOP budget cut for the VA was 700 million dollars. Every attempt that President Obama has made to start a major-league infra-structure re-development program has been “dead on arrival.” [Of course, Obama’s idea of leadership is no better than to resist tanks with wet noodles, so the outcome was always inevitable.] The “dysfunctional government in Washington” has been created by purposeful Repub. policy that Mitch McConnell began to set up even before Barack Obama’s first inauguration when in December, 2008 McConnell allowed that he would filibuster “any bill he didn’t like.”
The health care system is a mess for many citizens, but not primarily because of Obamacare. It’s because Repubs. have made it a major part of their agenda for decades to make sure that major elements of it could be major profit centers, rather than major factors in promoting and maintaining the health of the people, while the Democrats, again, for at least several administrations simply refused to fight for universal coverage. Obama, to his eternal damnation, simply took single payer off the table at the very start of the horse-trading with the GOP, a vast concession to the supposed enemy without a real fight. Obama simply let his picked representatives in this hagglefest, Reid, Pelosi and particularly venal and odious Max Baucus, Montana’s scourge to the public interest, to massage the fine print in this astonishing betrayal of the public’s aspirations. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that many people are convinced that the myriad problems they face are the fault either of “government” or the Democrats, or both—which as far as the complicit Democrats is concerned may be largely correct, but as far as the “Government” —a much broader and abstract entity—is not. Governments are instrumentalities: like technologies, what makes them good or bad, better big or small, is their class ideology. In a nation long in the hands of the most cynical and wretched plutocracy seen in modern times, it’s actually a miracle that not everything has already been broken and stolen in America.
So, to reiterate: the masses’ disgust with politicians and the “government” is well grounded. For surely, major elements of the problem-list have been the result of either positive Democratic programming, especially under Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), like “free trade,” the agreement over time to major tax cuts for the wealthy, the major de-regulation of the financial markets (with only partial restoration), the maintenance of the “drug war” and the accompanying mass incarceration problem, the acquiescence in the continued gradual destruction of the trade unions, or the failure of the Obama Administration to take on Republican obstruction head on from the beginning. The Repubs. had handed it to Obama on a plate at the end of the Bush Administration: the crash, due to de-regulation; 700,000 lost jobs per month; the failed war on Iraq which was still present in the minds of the public.
But the line was “be nice,” “let’s get along,” and (hidden, to be sure), “let’s make sure that this particular President does not comes across as ‘uppity.’ ” It is only in the last year or two that Obama has begun to really fight the Repubs., at least to some extent, and at times he has been pretty good at it. But it will likely be looked back on as too little, too late. Bernie fights on certain issues, especially the wealth disparity and the economic/political dominance of Wall Street. HRC has been pulled along by Bernie to some extent, in public at least, but she is an opportunist (to be kind). There are reasons, perhaps 600,000 of them, why she won’t release the texts of those Wall St. speeches.
But the bottom-line of 35 years —and if we want to be impolite many more decades—of a basically “go along to get along” Democratic party strategy, combined with active promotion of certain policy elements like the free export of capital, has made it possible for the Republicans to pin all of the problems that basically Republicans initiated on “the government” and “the Democrats” (which Repubs. have for decades equated with “government”). Brilliant. Indeed, a work of genius.
|THESE DAYS mark the 5th anniversary of the murder of Yasser Arafat, and bring back to me our last conversation in his Ramallah compound, a few weeks before his death. It was he who brought up the idea of a threefold federation – Israel, Palestine and Jordan. “And perhaps Lebanon, too. Why not?” – the same as he did at our very first meeting, in Beirut, July 1982, in the middle of the battle. He mentioned the term Benelux – the pact between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg that predated the European Union.|