The Republican Party of Wreckers

W.J. Astore

I used to think the Republican party had principles of substance.  I supported Gerald Ford in 1976 and found common cause with Ronald Reagan during the early ’80s.  Ford was a decent man, a moderate Republican (imagine such a thing in 2017!), and people forget that Reagan worked with Gorbachev on the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Today’s Republican Party?  The only “principles” they seem to have are driven by profit and power.  When you sell people’s privacy, conspire to deny them health care, and authorize projects that threaten the very air they breathe and the water they drink, you are the antithesis of public servants.

President Trump, of course, is partly to blame, but he’s often little more than a blustering figurehead.  Republicans in 2017 would be seeking to gut Obamacare, rape the earth, and sell everything in and out of sight regardless of which of their candidates had won the presidency.  Would it really be much different under President Ted Cruz or Ben Carson or Jeb! Bush?

Who’s to blame?  It sure isn’t the Russians or Comey at the FBI.  You might blame Hillary Clinton in part for running a horrible campaign. And surely the Democratic Party for favoring her over Bernie Sanders.  I’d also blame all those who voted for Trump and who were driven to do so for their own unprincipled reasons.

May 29, 2016
We can’t say we weren’t warned

America is already paying a high cost for Republican rule.  Lindy West at the Guardian puts it well: “America has never seen a party less caring than 21st-century Republicans.”

As she explains:

I don’t know that America has ever seen a political party so divested of care. Since Trump took office, Republicans have proposed legislation to destroy unions, the healthcare system, the education system and the Environmental Protection Agency; to defund the reproductive health charity Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion; to stifle public protest and decimate arts funding; to increase the risk of violence against trans people and roll back anti-discrimination laws; and to funnel more and more wealth from the poorest to the richest. Every executive order and piece of GOP legislation is destructive, aimed at dismantling something else, never creating anything new, never in the service of improving the care of the nation.

Contemporary American conservatism is not a political philosophy so much as the roiling negative space around Barack Obama’s legacy. Can you imagine being that insecure? Can you imagine not wanting children to have healthcare because you’re embarrassed a black guy was your boss? It would be sad if it wasn’t so dangerous.

A close friend put it well: “I think much of it is about spite — let’s take away whatever Obama did just because we hate him and because we CAN. Whatever he did must be wrong. Have they [the Republicans] done anything or passed any regulation since they took office that actually benefits anyone other than big business (and maybe coal miners)?  I honestly can’t think of anything!  Isn’t [Steve] Bannon’s philosophy to deconstruct and destroy the government? I’d say he’s succeeding.”

Yes, it’s always easier to destroy than to create.  And when you destroy, there’s money to be made from the wreckage.

Behold, I give you today’s Republican Party, a party of wreckers.

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6 thoughts on “The Republican Party of Wreckers

  1. Thank you for being another voice of reason. A heartless tsunami has swept America. Even though I see and experience push back from citizens, I wonder if Repubican destruction can be contained. When Paul Ryan is gleeful with dismantling health care for millions, I see a person disconnected from his own humanness. And, with this disconnect the basis for dangerous acts against others.

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  2. he is a RINO…GOPers are frustrated privately, except for Graham and McCain who aren’t afraid to call Trump wrong…The Freedom Caucus are at least principled and consistent and joined Moderates who knew the scam on health care being foisted on the country. GOPers really hate socialism and want to throw all of government into the free market. Better approach is to do with health care what was done with welfare, give it back to the states. That will drive people to take jobs in states that require affordable health care…now employees have to build into their income additional savings to buy good health care. Conservatives say this country is to huge to expect the economy to be so robust as to afford free or reduced health care for everyone. The other choice is to reduce military spending, pull back military forces spread out all over the world and divert spending for domestic issues, health care, infrastructure etc.

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  3. Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle;
    For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

    My widowed working-class mother, herself a child of the Great Depression and World War II, taught me my first and most-enduring political lesson as an elementary school student in the 1950s: “a vote for a Republican is a vote against yourself.” Near the end of her hard-working life in the year 2000, when she had trouble standing up and required assistance getting into the voting booth, she had only one question: “Who’s the Democrat?” In a room full of neighbors, almost all of them Republicans, someone answered: “Al Gore.” That did it for my mother. For her, the political world began and ended with the Party of FDR.

    I sure miss my mom. She loved Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She especially adored “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” one of the many fine poems in that fabulous story. Whenever she wanted to talk to me about something important, she would begin by saying: “Come on son. Let’s talk some more about the cabbages and kings.” She identified the little oysters with working-class people and the walrus and carpenter with the big-business Republicans who always wanted them to work longer hours for less pay. Once, when a political cartoonist drew a picture of Republican President Richard Nixon as the Carpenter and his Vice President Spiro Agnew as the Walrus, mom cut out a copy of it and stuck it on her refrigerator door. “Perfect!” she laughed.

    So I grew up understanding that when Republicans started talking about “principle,” they really had in mind “principal and interest.” As I grew up, and especially after coming home from Vietnam in early February of 1972, I came to see the Republican and Democratic parties — both of whom had enthusiastically supported that bloody farce — as, essentially, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, whom Alice could hardly tell apart. I could especially appreciate the conversation they had with Alice immediately after reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter” for her:

    “I like the Walrus best,” said Alice: “because he was a little sorry for the poor oysters”

    “He ate more than the Carpenter, though,” said Tweedledee. “You see, he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn’t count how many he took: contrariwise.”

    “That was mean!” Alice said indignantly. “Then I like the Carpenter best — if he didn’t eat so many as the Walrus.”

    “But he ate as many as he could get,” said Tweedledum.”

    The Republicans eat as many oysters as they can get; never get enough; and even glory in their gluttony, which they consider only normal and natural for their kind. The Democrats gratefully consume whatever few bread crumbs the Republicans leave for them while pretending to care ever so much for the little oysters whose trust they have betrayed.

    Meanwhile, as for Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Economics Research Professor Michael Hudson explains the essential scam in his article, Trump Is Obama’s Legacy. Will This Break Up the Democratic Party?, The Unz Review (March 22, 2017):

    The May/June polls showed Trump and Clinton were the country’s two most unpopular presidential candidates. But whereas the Democrats maneuvered Bernie out of the way, the Republican Clown Car was unable to do the same to Trump. In the end they chose to win behind him, expecting to control him. As for the DNC, its Wall Street donors preferred to lose with Hillary than to win with Bernie. They wanted to keep control of their party and continue the bargain they had made with the Republicans: The latter would move further and further to the right, leaving room for Democratic neoliberals and neocons to follow them closely, yet still pose as the “lesser evil.” That “centrism” is the essence of the Clintons’ “triangulation” strategy. It actually has been going on for a half-century. “As Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quipped in the 1960s, when he was accused by the US of running a one-party state, ‘The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them’.”

    So there we have it, fellow Crimestoppers. The Walrus and the Carpenter explains the ultimate cynicism of American politics. Tweedleum and Tweedledee explains the transparent veneer of barely discernable “difference” employed to distract public attention from the awful truth: namely, that big money owns everything and everyone, with the Republicans and Democrats merely twin copies of the One Party State, squabbling inanely about which one had spoiled the other’s nice new rattle. So, little oysters:

    ‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
    ‘To talk of many things:
    Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
    Of cabbages — and kings —
    And why the sea is boiling hot —
    And whether pigs have wings.’

    I sure miss my mom, and I wish that I could talk to her again about the cabbages and kings. But as much as I miss her, I console myself with the thought that at least she never lived to see what the Clintons and Barack Obama have made of her beloved Democratic Party. She wouldn’t recognize it. And if she hadn’t already passed away from natural causes, that would kill her.

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    1. Though some might quibble and raise a few exceptions to your critique here, Mike, I think it’s brilliant. Bravo.

      This is what happens when Big Money is allowed to buy our political process. I was walking with my wife today, and as we talked about this, I said to her, They get the best politicians money can buy, which for us means the worst.

      We’ve created a political system where money is the lifeblood; where politicians are constantly running for office and therefore seeking more money. As the Good Book says, you can’t serve God and mammon, nor can you serve the public and mammon. You have to choose which master to serve. Most of our politicians choose mammon.

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  4. According to veteran Republican Mike Lofgren, a long-time staff
    GOP insider: Religion destroyed my party
    A veteran Republican says the religious right has taken over, and turned his party into anti-intellectual nuts
    Mike Lofgren, Salon.com (Monday, Aug 6, 2012)
    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/05/republicans_slouching_toward_theocracy/
    This article is an excerpt from the book “The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted,” available from Viking.

    the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.”

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    1. I apologize for not formatting the above comments properly. I had intended to develop Mr Lofgren’s anaylsis by offering supporting comments by other noted authors , such as Thomas Frank, Kevin Phillips, Chris Hedges, Michael Hudson, and Sheldon Wolin. When Mr Lofgren said that the Republican Party rested upon three main tenets: namely, wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war, I wanted to point out that the Democratic Party also rests upon three main tenets: wealth worship, war worship and identity politics. If time permits, I’ll come back to this political veneer of “disasgreement” as a tactic used by both corporate factions to keep the downwardly dropping working and middle classes from basing their politics solely upon their own economic intrests, the way the One Percent owners of the Republicans and Democrats do. If time permits …

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