By Josh Sager
The 2012 Republican presidential primary process has become, at best, an embarrassing farce and at worst, the death rattles of the Republican Party. I do not assert that the regressive (I hate the "conservative" label as it is misleading and instead prefer the political science definition of the Republicans) mindset or ideal is any less valid or intelligent than the progressive ones, but that the current right wing is no longer a policy based party.
I am a progressive, which means that I do not subscribe to the social Darwinism of regressive beliefs but I don't claim the regressive mindset to be illegitimate. I see the regressive ideals of radical individualism to be dangerous to those who are less fortunate and in many cases, the seeds of an authoritarian state. The eventual result of individualism and social Darwinism is simply that the powerful will eventually pull away from the rest of society. Social Darwinism parallels biological Darwinism in that society begins to resemble the trees in a rain forest: The taller trees (Top 10% of society) eventually block out the sun for all those under them (Bottom 90% of society), and it gradually becomes nearly impossible for new trees to grow above the canopy. The wealthy in society will eventually consolidate all of the resources due to their level of capital and control over the system. In a regressive system, the government doesn't address social inequality and thus there is no real way for the poor to advance in society; schools stay poor, jobs remain without benefits, and social mobility dries up to a trickle. I see the eventual flaws in the regressive economic model as deadly and thus prefer the progressive model, but this is just my point of view. I have no more right to impose my views on others as they do to impose theirs on me. In a democracy, everybody deserves a voice, regardless of disagreements or partisanship.
I have three major issues with the current Republican Party, all of which are illustrated by the primary process. Through a combination of all three of these party-wide characteristics, the Republican Party has become simply a vehicle by which wealthy interests can affect policy. In the past, the Republican Party has stood for small government, independence from centralized government, and a "moral" set of values primarily based upon Judeo-Christian religion. Whether or not you support the traditional values of the Republican Party, they are based on fact and can be considered a coherent and consistent set of policy goals. In recent years, the Republican Party has mutated due to increased corporate involvement and funding into a party with no consistent set of values other than the perpetuation of the upward concentration of wealth.
- The current Republicans have completely divorced themselves from the fact in nearly every issue. Differing interpretations of the same facts is inevitable, but the current right wing has simply decided to make up their own set of facts to fit their narrative.
Whether the issue is scientific such as evolution or social such as trickle down tax policy, the Republican party has completely ceased to consider the objective facts. Science has near unanimously accepted concepts such as evolution, global climate change, and the biological determination of sexual orientation, while at the same time the Republicans have near unanimously rejected these concepts. The same situation has happened with social/economic issues such as tax policy, where the Republicans argue that tax cuts are job creators. Evidence and history have shown that deregulation and tax cuts don't automatically create jobs, just look at the Bush years. The Republicans as a group are unwilling to accept any fact that does not conform to their preconceived notions (confirmation bias) which is fatal to the bi-partisan discussion. If one party is unwilling to accept facts, what hope is there that they can agree upon anything with another party who does?
Not every political party must accept facts to be considered legitimate, but the orchestrated creation of alternative facts in order to pander to a certain groups does destroy party legitimacy. The Republicans are at best, an advocacy group for the rich and at worst, corporate puppets. The creation of alternative facts is particularly destructive to low information voters because they are often convinced to vote against their own interests.
- The current Republicans cannot be reasoned or negotiated with; they would much rather destroy the country than let it be run through compromise and cooperation.
A vital part of politics in the USA is compromise due to the separation of powers. One party may control one part of the legislature while the other controls the rest, thus they must find some common ground for government to function. In recent years, the Republicans have steamrollered over the Democrats when in power and obstructed when not to levels never before seen.
The current Republican Party seems unable to compromise on any point and is often willing to play Russian roulette with the country rather than strike a deal. Even when a lack of compromise would harm everybody, the Republicans are unwilling to capitulate even slightly, turning politics into a long term hostage situation. As with any hostage situation: Those who are trying to protect the hostage (the Democrats) are left capitulating to the demands of a minority who are willing to kill the hostage (the American people) if their demands are not met.
If the Republicans are willing to harm everybody if their demands are not met, then who are they actually serving? The goal of government is to serve the people, but in recent years the Republican ideology has taken precedent over the welfare of the people. Either the Republicans are corrupt in that they care more for helping the rich who fund them than the entire country, or so ideologically extreme that they are willing to be political suicide bombers for the cause of conservatism. When the third problem with the Republican party is taken into account, the only logical conclusion is the former conclusion rather than the latter.
- The current Republicans have completely sold out to those with money and power. While this problem is by no means exclusive to the Republicans, it has become the primary function of the right wing to pander to the rich.
In most political ideologies there are central beliefs which are not situational, but rather universal. Each political ideology has a set of values that differentiate them from the rest; the universal Progressive platform includes a strong safety net, education, regulations on corporations, and rights for all people in the country. The universal Regressive platform includes individual freedom from government intervention, low taxes, decreased regulation and personal choice over mandates.
In recent years, the Republicans have abandoned their universal beliefs in all situations which don't benefit the rich. Socialism and redistribution of wealth are evil, except when it is to bail out the banks and corporations. Government control over people's lives is unacceptable except where they disagree with the right wing mindset. Ideological flexibility can be a good thing for compromise, but in this particular case, it demonstrates a lack of principles. All of the right wing ideologies are used for the express benefit of the rich at the detriment of the poor. Capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich is not a consistent political message and demonstrated a lack of conviction behind the message of the current right wing.
In the past, the regressive message has been consistent, based upon facts, and not set in stone to the point where suicide is preferable to compromise. Even Reagan raised taxes when the need for revenue was important to the country. Compromise has been common even for the most right wing politicians when the country would suffer otherwise. Facts are not partisan, they are objective and the complete rejection of reality by one party is a new development in our nation. In short, Republicans have become the party of the rich and those who they can fool into supporting them; the party of no and the party where death is preferable to ideological impurity. The current Republican establishment is nothing like the past regressives, but rather a corporatist tool that serves only themselves and the rich.
Please Republicans, wake up and smell the corruption. Your party is no longer a legitimate political party and if you don't take it back, you will eventually wake up in a USA that you don't recognize.