How the Leopard Changed its Spots

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

“In the days when everybody started fair, Best Beloved, the Leopard lived in a place called the High Veldt.”  These are the words with which the Nobel prize-winning author, Rudyard Kipling begins one of his Just So Stories. His stories involve such things as How the Elephant got its trunk, the giraffe its neck, and so on. They are wonderfully conceived and delivered stories, targeted at children, but also for adults who appreciate their poetry, wit and insight.

Here in the United States, we have a story told in a similar vein, but without the narrative genius displayed by Kipling. This is the story of the Republican Party, a party so out of touch with the vagaries and social innovations of the modern era, that they still believe that women should be domesticated, that races other than European should be subjugated, that young girls should be forced to bear children despite the violence of incest or rape.

Republicans lost the White House and the Senate in this last election, but they have still not reconciled themselves to this reality. They believe that all they need to do is to repackage their message and resell the same, tired baloney to the voters. What they fail to understand is that their message is anathema to the majority of voters.

The electorate of today is far more diverse than ever before, and people are more accepting of differing social attitudes than they have been in the past. Most voters today accept the realities of the gay lifestyle, as an example, even if they do not follow that lifestyle.

I adhere to that perspective, while I have no gay inclination myself, still I believe that people should be free to choose their lifestyle for themselves. When I meet someone, I do not ask them, “so did you indulge in sexual intercourse last night and who was it with?” What happens behind closed doors really is no business of mine, unless it has a direct bearing on my life.

Conservatives, however, love to impose themselves on others, despite their stated belief that government should stay out of people’s lives. They only believe that until they are in power, at which time they impose a doctrinaire ideology on the people. The LGBT lifestyle is something they would happily abolish once in  power.

Conservatives, represented by the Republican Party, want to change voters perceptions of their policies. They believe that if they just phrase things in a different way, voters will accept their message. surprisingly often, they are correct. Far too many voters don’t pay attention to the details of the party for whom they vote.

For instance, conservatives love to talk about the skyrocketing deficit, and compare that deficit to a household budget. There is almost nothing similar between a country’s budget, and that of a household. Countries can print currency, for instance, which households cannot. That line of argument works for many people, and the deficit becomes a big concern for them. Conservatives are good at that, distorting a message to suit their goals.

This is a social problem that creates many of the inequities within society. The poor, especially the blue-collar poor in rural areas vote for the Republicans without realising that Republicans only need the vote to enrich the wealthy and large corporations. Once in power, conservatives seldom do anything to benefit the poor or the Middle Class.

Conservatives know that their policies are unpopular, which is what cost them the election. They are frantically looking for ways to achieve power once more. So far, all their efforts have been dishonest. They gerrymander districts to seize control of state houses, then attempt to change the voting rules to suit themselves.

Their latest attempt is to change the electoral college vote for President in such a way that, regardless of the popular vote, they will win the election. This is achieved using the same process as the gerrymandering of congressional districts. The entire edifice of democracy, predicated on majority rule, is lost to conservative skullduggery.

Gov. Bobby Jindal

Gov. Bobby Jindal

They love to manipulate the system in other ways, such as what is happening in Louisiana, where Gov. Bobby Jindal wants to eliminate the income tax, which is currently paid by the wealthy. He wants to replace it with a Sales Tax, which would fall most heavily on the poor, since they pay out a greater proportion of their income for goods and services.

Now, Jindal can go to his constituents and say that he has eliminated the income tax, appearing to be the states great saviour. The wealthy are happy, and the people believe that they no longer have to pay tax. They do not realise that they will be paying far higher taxes in the form of sales tax. A number of governors in other states are proposing the same thing.

Yet Jindal says that the Republicans should “stop protecting the wealthy so they can keep their toys”. This is the conservative playbook, say one thing in public, and do something else behind the scenes.The have become past masters at this underhanded, and nefarious way of dealing with voters.

Conservatives love sales tax. It is a lazy way of collecting taxes, puts far more of a burden on the poor, and allows them to raise taxes whenever they choose without the usual legislative process. Consumption taxes are just another way of bypassing the progressive tax and imposing a flat tax on the very poorest consumers.

While Republicans have acknowledged the need to change their policies, the fact is that their policies are creating an even greater burden on the most vulnerable in society, while giving away vast amounts to the already wealthy. They claim that they want to change, but their policies are becoming ever more extreme.

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman of the New York Times, claims that they live in an intellectual bubble, getting their news from right-wing sources, their ideology from talk radio and conservative TV, and that they have not yet connected with the rest of America.

In this Internet age, it has become a problem that we seek out those views that verify and justify our political and social beliefs. It is a very real danger to democracy if most people do not hear the views and opinions of others, who may oppose their own beliefs. If we are unaware of the impact our views have on others, it is difficult to moderate those views.

Conservatives truly believe that most people in this country are takers, that refuse to pay their own way and want government handouts. That most people work long hours, many in dead-end jobs, often at more than one job does not enter their minds because they have never encountered anyone in those positions.

A man like Mitt Romney has never worked in a pizzeria, or cleaned restrooms in Wal-Mart, or worked on a construction crew. How can he understand the difficulties of that lifestyle when he moves from mansion to mansion on private jets, eating in  high-class restaurants. He never meets a normal citizen, how can he have sympathy with them?

Instead of understanding that it is their policies that people do not like, Republicans try to rig elections in those states that they need to win elections, not states they already win.  They suppress the vote, since, naturally, they don’t want the wrong people to vote, especially African-Americans, Hispanics, women, or the young.

Paul Ryan claimed that when he spoke about people being takers, he wasnt talking about those on Social Security or Medicare. Who, then, was he talking about? Most people will end up on Social Security and Medicare towards the end of their lives. They worked for these benefits, and they deserve them.

Conservatives are still saying outrageous things, such as denying abortion even to women that have been raped, even criminalising abortion to the extent that a woman who has been raped will end up in jail if she attempts an abortion. They claim that it is God’s will that a woman falls pregnant after rape. Is it his will that the woman get raped in the first place?

Conservatives are trying very hard to tell people that they have changed their spots, but they have not, they are disguising them, camouflaging them, painting over them, but they have not changed them. If anything, their spots are more vivid and noticeable than ever. It remains to be seen whether voters will be deceived by them.

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