Years from now historians are going to have a ball with the early 21st century aren’t they? As political upheavals go, some historians in the future might say the election (and re-election) of Barack Obama might be the most consequential event in America’s relatively short history. Some might point to the obvious lies, corruption, and robbery of America’s Social Security Trust Fund to fight the only two unfunded wars in U.S. history—including the Revolutionary War–and the resulting economic crash it helped cause; surpassed only by the Great Depression in size and scope. But in reality, the most consequential event in the early 21st century of the U.S is the rapid descent of the Republican party into utter madness.
The Tail That’s Wagging The Elephant
Never before in American history has a political party been so completely subjugated and controlled by its extremist wing. Never before has the U.S. seen a political party that brings together the attributes of nihilism, callousness, intolerance and naked partisanship quite like the modern GOP. In a two-party system like America’s, the result is unprecedented dysfunction bordering on treason when the Minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell essentially declared war on President Obama and his administration, and never before has a major political party in America called for Apartheid which is what GOP “Patriots” are doing now.
Whether it was the wanton misuse of the filibuster and other blocking parliamentary techniques in the Senate to stop President Obama’s agenda; the manufactured fiscal crises highlighted by the disastrous debt limit showdown of 2011; or the unending efforts to undermine the economic recovery by deliberately obstructing any and all common sense efforts to stimulate the economy, President Obama’s first term was dominated by the Republican’s unrestrained obstructionism and lack of concern in actually governing the country.
The most bizarre aspect however is reserved for what happened—or didn’t happen– after the results of the 2012 election. Anyone with an IQ whose number exceeds their shoe size might have expected the Republican fever to break allowing some modicum of sanity and good sense to rise from the ashes of their resounding defeat.
Think again. This type of callousness, if evaluated pertaining to any other country, would be called a slow moving genocide, not entirely unlike the late 1900’s apartheid in South Africa by a similar white minority. It’s a blatant indifference to the the poor, unemployed, or disabled citizens in our country, with a bent towards their ultimate demise that the country’s Founding Fathers simply could not have foreseen.
If anything, in the first half of 2013 the GOP has accelerated its journey towards the depths of immorality. Go back to the beginning of the year. As millions of Americans were celebrating New Year’s Eve, the Republicans were lurching the country into the fiscal cliff because of their doggedness that no rich person should ever pay a single cent in higher taxes. The budgetary obsession continued through the sequestration and refusal to compromise with President Obama even after he put the liberal sacred cow of Social Security on the table.
Along the way Republicans thwarted modest efforts at gun control, ginned up made-up scandals involving the IRS and the death of four Americans in Benghazi but simply couldn’t be bothered with the difficult task of proposing public policy legislation. And after three years of complaining incessantly that Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget, key Republicans have spent the last 100 days obstructing the budget process.
But in the past few weeks things have actually gone from terrible to unimaginable. There’s the GOP so-called Farm Bill, which would have cut food stamps by $20.5bn, robbing nearly 2 million poor Americans of basic food assistance. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Republican House also passed an amendment to the bill that would force food stamp recipients to work in return for benefits, which would be great, but it provided no actual funds for job training.
In fact, it specifically banned states from spending more money on employment and training. So if you’re a poor person and you lose your job, you lose the government benefits that allow you to feed your family, Then along comes this piece of genocidal legislative nastiness which was supported by all but six House Republicans.
Heartlessness With No Bounds of Decency For Fellow Countrymen
Across red state America, Republican legislators are doubling down on new abortion restrictions like:
- Wisconsin will force women who want a constitutionally protected abortion to have, in some cases, a wand inserted into their vagina so they can see the fetus they are about to abort.
- In Ohio, the state recently enacted new anti-abortion laws that divert federal funds away from Planned Parenthood to anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” where women are fed a witches brew of mistruths about the health risks of abortion.
- Perhaps the worst case is in Texas, where a proposed law would ban any abortion after 20 weeks and allow precious few exceptions for the health of the mother or the condition of the fetus.
So imagine if a woman goes in to see her doctor in the 21st week of her pregnancy and discovers that her baby is afflicted with a terrible genetic anomaly. This is not a hypothetical since procedures like an amniocentesis are performed that detect such disorders. Under the Texas law, a woman would be forced to carry that baby to term. This is akin to state-sanctioned torture. And even if the woman’s health were partially, but not severely at risk, abortions would be forbidden. All in the name of some faux-consideration for “the fetus” with no regard for the indifference, no, scorn that the child will be shown by the same party once alive. And this ban is actually more generous than the recent post-20 week abortion ban passed in the House of Representatives, which would have no exceptions except in the case of the life of the woman.
Texas legislators and Governor Rick Perry have defended these bans as part of their fierce regard and respect for human life. Unfortunately, that pro-life agenda is only reserved for fetuses. Once that fetus comes to life, Perry and his ilk could give a rat’s ass what happens to it. Texas executes more prisoners in one year than the next ten highest rate states combined.
For example, Texas also has one of the stingiest welfare programs in the US (recipients get less than $300 a month). The state has also consistently refused to take federal money to expand health insurance for children and Texas has joined two dozen other red states in refusing to take federal money to expand Medicaid for its poorest citizens.
The GOP’s efforts to reject Medicaid expansion are perhaps the best example of the Republican party’s desire for genocide for poor Americans. Even though under the provisions of the law the federal government would be picking up the tab for the first five years of the program and even though Republican governors like Rick Scott in Florida, Rick Snyder in Michigan and John Kasich in Ohio support the expansion, GOP legislators are balking.
They use the facade of fiscal righteousness as the basis of their opposition (a fallacious claim) but in reality the opposition is yet another example of Republican psychosis about Obamacare. The conscious decision to reject Medicaid money will not only increase the economic anxiety, not to mention the cruel health consequences, of otherwise potential recipients. It will exacerbate mental health deterioration through poor nutrition and literally cost lives. But such “humane” arguments have never done much to shake GOP lack of empathy for less fortunate Americans.
On the contrary, Republicans on the national level are now doing everything in their power to ensure Obamacare fails regardless of “collateral damage” in their unholy war against the President. Collateral damage meaning the systematic destruction of all of the poorest and most defenseless Americans. Just this past week, key GOP senators, after discovering that the Obama administration was working with major sports leagues to encourage people to sign up for coverage, wrote a stern letter threatening the leagues for partnering with the White House on a law that was passed along partisan lines and is “controversial”.
Let’s put aside for a second that Obamacare was passed by Congress and upheld by the US Supreme Court. Even if Republicans remain unhappy with the legislation, it is the law of the land and its proper implementation is the responsibility of the federal government. But the GOP goal is not to make sure what they believe to be a terribly flawed law works; it’s to make sure it fails so that Democrats will be blamed and Republicans will reap the political benefit. That millions of Americans will be harmed and will suffer because of a narrow political agenda is totally irrelevant to them.
Of course, none of this should be a surprise to even casual observers of American politics. In the narrow pursuit of political gain, Republicans have adopted an agenda that is quite simply, inhumane and cruel, rising at times to the level of treasonous obstructionism of their duty to defend ALL of the Constitution, not just the 2nd Amendment. ALL of it.
Even if I were to be charitable and defend their actions on the ground of the Republicans adherence to an ideological agenda of smaller, less intrusive government (except in the case of vaginas or birth control) it simply can’t be defended. If one’s ideological bias means denying food assistance to people who are laid off from their job or forcing a woman to carry a dead fetus to term or preventing individuals from getting health care coverage, then you have an ideology only shared with the most despicable villains in history any way you slice it, parse it, or manipulate it.
This is not meant as an indictment of all Republicans because it’s very likely that many rank and file Republicans don’t share these predilections. Rather it’s an indictment of a once proud political party that is delving into the depths of extremist radicalism and repudiation of everything once thought to define “American generosity”; or stated differently, like an alcoholic or crack addict that simply hasn’t hit rock bottom yet.
Harvey A. Gold