President Obama strode into office with the wind at his back, the faith of a nation placed in his capable hands. He promised bipartisanship, a new era of cooperation in Washington, working across the aisle with both Republicans and Democrats. He promised change, change we could believe in, a new page in the rarefied air of partisan bickering.
He met the implacable, immovable object that constitutes the Republican Party. This nation discovered what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. Gridlock, or deadlock. A man with an idea, a way to change the petty arrogance in Congress met the unyielding granitic obstinance of Republican America. He tried, at first, to work with Republicans in Congress, and each time he was frustrated by their petulant intransigence.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, came out on national TV and declared that for the next four years, their sole job in Washington was to ensure that President Obama did not have a second term. These leaders, elected by the people to do a job of work, to produce urgently needed legislation affecting every facet of life in this nation, decided that they were not going to do this essential work. Instead, they would spend four years, during which time they were paid by the American people to do a job, fighting every single piece of legislation that Obama wanted passed.
That is precisely what they did. They filibustered every piece of legislation that they could lay their hands on, and halting essential legal procedures by drowning the process in red tape and bureaucracy. In the Senate, even a single senator can halt any piece of legislation almost indefinitely.
Despite this Republican imposed legislative gridlock, the President managed to push through groundbreaking legislation. His signature piece of legislation, the American Care Act pushed through Congress without a single Republican vote. Despite the fact that the Act extended healthcare to every person living in America, Republicans stalled, filibustered, and threatened the nation with political hellfire and brimstone.
The irony is that it is legislation that not too many years ago Republicans wanted to have passed. Due to the presidents push, people who did not have a chance at healthcare and ultimately a better life, now have hope, for themselves, for their children, for the people around them. No longer do they need to declare bankruptcy after a serious medical procedure, or pospone seeking out a physician for a medical problem.
If Mitt Romney is elected, the American Care Act will be rolled back and 50 million Americans will no longer have the hope of healthcare. Republicans care more about some ill-defined ideology than they do about the lives of the people.
The President pulled the auto industry from the precipice of financial destruction, took two of the Big Three through a government controlled bankruptcy and brought them back out, using government funds. Today, GM is again the largest company on Earth, profitable, and producing thousands or hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Americans.
Mitt Romney and his Republican cohorts wanted the auto industry to go bankrupt, out of business. Millions of jobs across the country would have been lost under his plan. His concern for the American people is non-existent. Republicans fought tooth and nail to allow the auto industry to slide into the ocean.
The tidal wave that swept through the country during the 2010 mid-term election brought a new kind of conservative to Washington. These people no longer wanted Washington to do its job. They wanted government to vanish, to disappear entirely from their lives. They wanted to gut Medicare and Social Security, take away food stamps from the people, cut anything that is left of the social safety net.
This political movement wants to cut government spending, reduce the deficit and cut taxes. A loose, amorphous group of political misfits with little understanding of the nuances of government, they do not understand the importance of a strong central government as a bulwark against the rise of separatism and anarchy often proposed by the scions of right-wing ideology.
The Tea Party voter does not seem to understand that when you cut government programs, people lose their jobs. The cuts do not come from some ethereal cookie jar somewhere, they come from real people, with real jobs, that work hard for their children, that also pay taxes, consume and add to economic activity.
They do essential work, like teach our children, police our suburbs, run into burning buildings to save people. They may do essential work on scientific breakthroughs, or climate change, or green energy. They are the people who man the space shuttle, put orbiting laboratories in space, produce vaccines that save our children from debilitating or life threatening diseases.
In a civilized, advanced society, government is there to aid the private sector, to do research that they are unable or unwilling to do, fix our roads, upgrade our electric grid, build harbours and airports. We no longer live on the prairie where buffalo roam and homes are built with the sweat of dozens of neighbours.
Today, we rely on services being performed by thousands of people, from the guy in the auto shop that services our vehicles to the women that installs our cable TV, to the immigrant laborer that blows the leaves off our driveway. Some of these things are done privately, and some by government because ultimately and ironically, government is cheaper and more efficient than industry. We ask government to issue drivers permits and passports, to provide medical care because private industry burdens us with odious regulation, denies coverage, and allows people to die for lack of needed care.
What conservatives want to do is to break that social contract between the federal government, the states and the people. They want people to be cut loose to rely only on their own devices, left to the mercy of giant corporations and state governments more interested in the advancement of corporations and the wealthy than of the people.
This is how nations die, how segregationists and secessionists gain power, by attacking the government and the institutions that constitute that government. This is how the Weimar republic in 1920’s Germany was destroyed by the extreme right-wing, by continuously attacking the state and its institutions. This nation does not need anarchy or the Balkanization of the states. We need to recognize that we are strongest when we all work together to create a more perfect union between the states.
If people are told enough times that the central government can do nothing for them, that they are on their own, that they should be self-sufficient, at some point, they come to believe it. Sensible moderate Republicans, liberals and other people who believe that these United States should remain united must start to push back against the anarchists and the forces of secession.
The Republicans should stop attacking the organs of the state that help the poor, the sick, the helpless, and those in need and start to help to build a better future for everyone and not just the obscenely wealthy. Conservatives do all they can to make this nation ungovernable, a slow coup d’état, to seize the organs of power for themselves, sycophants to corporate interests. We should throw them from office.
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