Republicans have set their hearts on a single mission; to bring to an end the Presidency of Barack Obama. Every tactic that they display has this one aim as its central guiding principle. They are attempting to make governing so difficult for this President that they believe he will eventually give in, or be forced to do whatever they want him to do.
They forget, conveniently, that a Democrat won the Presidency, that Democrats won seats in the Senate, and that they won the popular vote in the House of Representatives. Conservatives have learnt, over a long period, that obstructionism pays off. It obstructs the agenda of a Democratically elected leader, puts the leader on the defensive, and plays to the conservative base.
They used this tactic quite successfully with President Clinton. The tactic is not without merit. The voters come to think of the entire political process as corrupt, intractable and beyond redemption. This induces fewer people to vote, since they believe that regardless of who they vote for, nothing is likely to be done.
This is one of the primary aims of the conservatives, to limit the vote to a small number of people. The people who do vote will inevitably be more extreme, more dedicated to voting regardless of the obstacles. In this, conservatives have succeeded.
Washington, and Congress in particular, is deeply unpopular. Around 14% of people believe that Congress is doing a decent job. Even a cursory look at the House of Representatives under John Boehner, the people are quite correct in their assessment. This is a very dangerous situation for the country, and for the people.
When people lose faith in the political system, they become more amenable to alternatives. This is what happened to the Weimar Republic in Germany after the First World War. Weimar was deeply unpopular, and the Communists on the far left and the National Socialists and nationalists on the right made sure that it remained so.
The Social Democrats who were in power, tried to make the Republic work, but ultimately were undermined by hyperinflation during the 1920’s, and depression un the 1930’s. Added to that was the violence perpetrated by Communists, but particularly by the Brownshirts on the right.
This country is certainly no Germany, and this is not the 1930’s, but there are disturbing analogs between the two, which really should be remedied before the situation deteriorates to the point that this democracy is no longer viable.
First, there is the untrammeled access to guns, especially assault weapons, available to anyone able to sign a check or use a credit card. This creates an armed group of mostly young people. Given the right set of social and economic circumstances, these young people would easily become todays version of the Brownshirts, only with access to far more lethal weaponry. A financial meltdown would probably create a bloodbath given the ubiquity of weapons in the country.
Second is the conservative intransigence in politics. When Bill Clinton was in office, conservatives made governing so difficult that Clinton was forced into continuing confrontations on issue after issue.
The then speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, made Clinton’s life impossible. With the advent of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, all sensible work on the Hill came to a halt for almost two years as Republicans obsessed over this non-issue.
When George W Bush attained the Presidency, he was given almost carte blanche to do whatever he desired, despite a Democratic led House under Nancy Pelosi. Emboldened by the 9/11 attacks, he implemented the PATRIOT Act, which essentially stripped Americans of any privacy they may have had, and instituted extensive spying programs on his own people.
With the Presidency of Barack Obama, Conservatives are again doing whatever they can to stop any and all progress by the President, regardless of the social or economic impact on the country. Every issue is taken as an opportunity for the Republicans to pursue a radical ideological agenda that includes stripping tax paying citizens of their earned benefits, Social Security and Medicare.
The debt ceiling fight in 2011 almost brought Washington to a halt, close to what Newt Gingrich tried with President Clinton. A similar fight in 2013 could well end in the credit rating of the United States being downgraded for the second time in as many years, an unprecedented event that has not happened before in this nations history.
Conservatives have shown themselves willing to take the nation to the edge of default and beyond, through financial calamity, just to advance their increasingly strident and extremist agenda, regardless of the consequences for the people or the nation.
Beyond the debt ceiling, the budget looms, and conservatives have again threatened to hold the nation to ransom to obtain severe austerity and spending cuts in essential social programs.
They never mention the vast sums used to finance the worlds largest military machine, that could be reined in. Conservatives want to spend ever more on a military without a mission, just to be bigger than everyone else.
We are not at war with anyone, and no-one is on the horizon that could threaten us to the extent that the Axis powers could in WW2. Islāmic militants do not have the armaments to mount any kind of resistance to the United States. China may well pose a threat one day, but not yet. Russia is winding down as a power and poses no imminent threat.
There are other areas that could be stripped out of the budget, the subsidies to agriculture, and to bloated oil companies. Subsidies pour into corporate coffers, and yet, conservatives want to cut the social safety net.
Other than the budget and the sequester, a series of spending cuts mandated by Congress over the Bush Tax Cuts, conservatives are targeting Obama’s cabinet choices. The first to go was Susan Rice, an eminently qualified Ambassador to the United Nations, whose name was floated for Secretary of State.
The Republicans began a blistering, dishonest attack on her personally for the deaths in Benghazi, Libya of the US ambassador, for which she had no responsibility. They attacked her character, attacked her personally and threatened to block her nomination entirely, for no clear reason other than that she was black, female and was a possible nominee for Secretary of State.
Republicans wanted Sen. Jon Kerry of Massachusetts to take that position, and they got their wish. Susan Rice took herself out of contention. Women’s groups slated Obama for letting her swing out in the wind without any support from the White House. It was not a good day for Obama. He got the blame for conservative attacks on his nominee, and rightly so.
Obama has nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican, to be his Secretary of Defense, and Conservatives are on the attack once more. Despite the fact that he is one of theirs, they are attacking him for his position on Israel, which, it appears, is the fifty-first state, on gays, or not being tough on Iran. Again, they are attacking him because he is Obama’s choice, and not theirs.
Hagel is a former Vietnam vet, wounded in service, and he, rightly, believes that military force should be used sparingly, and not just on a whim, something that is anathema to Republicans. Conservatives have a history of indulging in worthless, costly, deadly wars in foreign countries with no particular aim. heaven forfend that we should take away their toys.
Obama’s choice to replace Timothy Geithner is Jack Lew, current White House Chief of Staff, and an expert on the budget. Conservatives have wasted no time in attacking him and saying publically that they will not confirm him. They do not yet seem to have any coherent reason, but that is not the point.
The point of frustrating the President on every nomination that he puts forward is to make the task of governance impossible for the President. In the eyes of the people, he will look weak, and history will reward him by calling him a president that got nothing done. People will soon forget that it is Congress that is obstructing his every move, and blame him for the gridlock in Washington.
Conservatives have very little time for the niceties of Liberal Democracy. By nature they are autocratic, despotic, in bed with large corporations, anti union, and anti socialist. Their stated aim is to bring to a close this exercise in freedom.
They were always uncomfortable with representative democracy, and prefer the vote to be restricted to very carefully chosen people, and that does not include black presidents, Latinos, women, the poor, or any of the constituencies that propelled the President to power.
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