I often refer to my bafflement that any middle class person in the country would cast a vote for today’s Republican Party, while expressing queasy marvel at Republicans’ reptilian ability to conceal the designated beneficiaries of their political toil. Through the highly polished and aggressive art of obfuscation and lying demonstrated in their propaganda, Republicans convince some Americans their political efforts are not restricted to the behest of a small sliver of wealthy and corporate America. One can blame both the inattentiveness of voters and the mendacity of Republicans for this cheating of political reality in the electoral process; but it has been a staple of our politics for decades now.
More recently however, Republicans have come teasingly close to taking it all off, giving voters a nearly unobstructed view of where their sympathies lie. Doing so would be politically catastrophic, given their actual objectives and affections are repugnant to a large majority of Americans…unless one believes Americans secretly reserve a cherished place in their hearts for energy executives, investment bankers and the leisure class fattening on capital gains. In other words the relentlessness, effectiveness and zip of their propagandizing have kept them in the game so to speak.
Republicans used to know this, it being entirely obvious to their political strategy. One of the pitfalls of unrestrained zealotry in a political party, and of uncontained extremity and ideological exoticism is that its very nature inevitably causes it to throw off all of its concealments and to proudly proclaim its beliefs. That is what is happening now: a tea-soaked Republican Party fully conquered by the pandemic of ideological fundamentalism and faith-based political irrationality is telling the American people what it wants.
It’s also telling America what it doesn’t care about, which it turns out is most of her citizens. Given the choice between shutting down all government services and retaining luxurious tax rates for America’s wealthy in the earlier budget brouhaha they precipitated, Republicans made their choice clear. Given the choice between government default with broad and deep consequential hardships for most of America in an extortive demand to whack away financial support for the safety net upon which ordinary citizens depend, and tempering their ideological feverishness for the health of the country as a whole their choice again was clear.
Obama’s legislative proposal for job creation has elicited a similar ideologically lubricated exhibitionism. Republicans, worshipping as they ostensibly do at the altar of tax cuts all the time, everywhere, until the expiration of the known universe are telling us now, worrywarts they suddenly have become about deficits, that continuation of payroll tax deductions for middle-class Americans is simply an intolerable expense. Yes, the political party that claimed shaving a trillion off of the deficit by returning to Clinton era tax rates for the wealthy was insensitive to the investment class; that claimed it was preferable for the nation to default rather than to ask oil and gas conglomerates to live without exorbitant subsidies; the party that has held as scriptural the claim that no such thing as loss of revenue from reductions in taxes exists, suddenly claims continued tax breaks for the middle-class are an accelerant to the nation’s debt. Yes it’s rich, excuse the pun.
Republicans are saying things like:
“I’m more dubious today than I was. The debt is much larger now.”
“It’s a horrible idea.”
“This is robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
“Cut this corporate tax rate instead.”
In other words tax cuts for the wealthy: mother’s milk. Tax relief for the middle class: abomination.
It’s naked and it isn’t pretty.
Of course, Republicans do still have a soft spot for “the job creators” in other words for CEOs running companies into the ground while reaping multiple millions, companies moving their jobs overseas, and every slacker living off barely taxed investment gains who spent the previous decade gambling away marginal amounts of their excess in the derivatives markets. So much excess capital in their pockets, so few jobs.
But Republicans’ sudden discovery of the ramifications of lost revenue is inexpressibly precious. Their loss of strategy, their new openness about their royalist sympathies is strategically defensible one supposes in comparative terms, since their determination to thwart the economy and wreck the country in order to leverage the resulting misery into their reacquisition of the executive branch would be an even more obscene objective to open up about.
If conspicuously and profusely revealed ignorance, lying about everything from the color of the sky to the wetness of water, and making statements so mentally unsound as to cause revisions to the DSM-IV haven’t been enough for some Americans to get the picture, maybe this raw display of contempt for average people sharply contrasted with a fawning reverence for concentrated wealth and power will do the trick.
If President Obama and the Democratic Party cannot severely punish the Republican Party as it openly displays its plutocratic true colors, its true sympathies and its true radicalism it will be malpractice that is politically actionable, and really bad news for the rest of us.