Most of us have lived next door to a man or woman who opens the backdoor to their home, welcomes the morning sun, and tosses out breadcrumbs for the birds. Generally, it is not a piece of freshly baked bread or a slice of that ciabatta one craves dipped in oil. We tear apart the bread heel or take—what is left—from a two-week-old loaf just before it molds. The current Republican party is that little old woman in curlers or older man in a terry cloth robe tossing breadcrumbs to the birds. Unfortunately, the birds they prey on are the middle class, poor and disadvantaged. It may be a general indictment, but I ask myself a question after what seems like every measure meant to help working people; Republicans vote no or condemn it. Why are people who achieve success unhappy unless they have someone to look down on?
In the 1930s, when Franklin Roosevelt introduced the concept of Social Security as a safety net for the elderly and disabled as part of his recovery plan to bring America out of the Great Depression, two percent of Democrats voted against it. Economic historian Max Skidmore—who has written extensively on the virtues of Social Security, writes two percent of Democrats opposed it because they thought it was insufficient. Meanwhile, 33% of Republicans voted against the measure. The charges made by conservatives against Social Security were that it would be “destroying initiative, discouraging thrift and stifling individual responsibility.” Republicans called for austerity when people not only lacked a chicken in every pot but a pot.
Stubbornly, Republicans try and fail to prove—the patron saint of the rich, Ronald Reagan’s—economic Trickle Down works. Two of the last three Republican Presidents’ economic incompetence left the country on the verge of disaster. The GOP pattern of obstinance was repeated for Medicare, Affirmative Action, and the Covid Relief Package. Republican confusion lies in their approach of looking at the United States as a business when that is not the function of the American government. First-year political science students learn that the process of government, simply put, is to form a more perfect union and ensure justice by protecting those that follow the laws of the country and by punishing those that do not. Also offer domestic tranquility, provides for the common defense, and provides for the common welfare of the nation. Of course, within that construct is the right and freedom to exceed the government’s responsibilities to its citizens.
The latest debate is about forgiveness for student loans. The opposition’s prevailing thought is the old saw about responsibility versus irresponsibility. Like most things Republican, these days, nuance gives way to callousness. A ten-year-old was made to travel miles for an abortion instead of having her rapist baby. A mother in Louisiana whose fetus will be effectively born dead was told to carry it to term; Nancy Davis, pointing out the brutality, “I had to carry my baby to bury my baby.” Partisanship does not prevent seeing the Republican party for what they have become. They have become subservient to a liar, disrespectful of human rights, and indifferent to human suffering. Maybe I am being overly critical; maybe it is simply a human flaw; is it much easier to be selfish and leave crumbs than to share one’s meal happily?
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