Monday, January 7, 2013

Calling it like it is

I’m done playing nice. I’m done hemming and hedging and countering every ‘the Republicans did this stupid thing’ with a ‘…but the Democrats aren’t that great either.’

The truth is - the current iteration of the Republican Party really is THAT bad. They really are a threat to American democracy as we know it. And allowing the media and ourselves to attempt to seem “fair” by blaming both parties for an anemic economic recovery and fiscal cliff crisis is not really fair at all. Because the Republicans really are to blame.

Money – and religious extremists with money – controls the Republican Party. Money gets Republicans into power and it keeps them there. And once they’re there, they do the bidding of the money that got them there. Thanks to gerrymandering, most Republican representatives are only in danger of being defeated in the primaries by other, more extreme/conservative Republicans, so they have become even more right-wing and polarized than ever before in history. Meanwhile, Democrats have come back to a more centrist position with the nomination and election of Obama in an attempt to secure the independent vote.

This means our two-party system, which is meant to work through checks and balances and compromise, is actually being overrun by a parliamentary-style Republican Party hell-bent on obstructing and damaging the credibility of the Democratic party at every turn.

A bipartisan group of Senators known as the Gang of Six came up with a $4 trillion budget proposal in June 2011 that closely mimicked the balanced budget approach favored by the GOP. The proposal would have cut spending, reformed entitlements and preempted the fiscal cliff crisis and it had widespread GOP and bipartisan support. Until Obama announced he would support it. Then the Republicans killed it.

Why? Because making Obama look bad is far more important than unemployment rates or economic recovery or the welfare of this country. It’s sad, but that’s really what it boils down to. The Republicans have hijacked our government and are jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions just to play a rousing game of “Spite the Black Guy.”

Republicans have manipulated the rhetoric to make themselves seem like anti-tax crusaders fighting valiantly to defend … the wealthy. The biggest point of contention? Tax rates for people making over $400,000 a year. Newsflash – those people are doing just fine, and they can probably continue to take care of themselves.

And now the pro-gun, Obama-is-a-Kenyan-Muslim-terrorist-impeach-the-traitor Republinuts are furious – FURIOUS I say! – to discover that people making $30,000 a year are being hit harder than people making $500,000 a year under the fiscal cliff deal that was finally reached. Newsflash number 2, folks – that’s what you’ve been supporting all along. That’s what this fight has been about – protecting the wealthy at the expense of the poor and the middle class. You elected the GOP hardliners who sacrificed your family’s well-being on the altar of the Koch brothers’ empire.

There are currently more than 100 nominations for public office awaiting Senate confirmation (at this time 10 years ago under Bush there were 13) – something that reflects poorly on Obama because it makes him look ineffectual. But those nominations are still pending because Republican Senators have put anonymous holds on them to block them indefinitely unless specific, ridiculous demands are met. The minority Republican Party has corrupted the nomination process and turned it into a means of preventing the enforcement of already-enacted federal laws. They have thwarted the legislative process to bully the country into submitting to their whims.

The Republicans have set out to make “government doesn’t work” a self-fulfilling prophecy. It certainly won’t work when half of Congress refuses to allow it to work. And naturally the party of “small government” benefits from making it appear that government is ineffective.

The thing is – I’ve never identified as a Democrat and I still don’t officially. I kept my party affiliation as “unaffiliated” when I got a new driver’s license this weekend. I voted Democrat for the very first time in my life in the 2012 election. But I am done pretending that honest discourse about current American politics has to include some caveat that shifts some of the blame away from Republican leadership.

Nothing the Democrats do could compare to the heartless evil of refusing to authorize relief money for Superstorm Sandy victims or to refusing to reauthorize the 68-year-old Violence Against Women Act.

Fear of being perceived as having a ‘liberal bias’ has led to a less-than-the-whole-truth bias, and the Republican Party has exploited that at every opportunity. I’m happy to call Democrats out on bullshit too, but a solution to our current economic and social crisis has to start with recognizing the heart of the problem: religious-extremist-backed Republicans who hate the President more than they love our country. 

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