A rhetorical question this is not. While we do know Republicans still utilize the basic political modus operandi of opening their mouths and speaking, beyond that, the words themselves reveal no discernible intent to act in any overt way for the benefit of the American people, aside that is from one or two percent of them and narrow corporate interests. Indeed, there has been no shortage of opportunities of late to glimpse the essential purpose and character of the party of nada, the picture revealed unsightly at best: a blank agenda and manifold negativity all that is visible to the naked eye.
As a test of character, Republicans’ response to the news of Gaddafi’s demise revealed a weakness that borders on the pathologically precarious. As if cued to frown and cast aspersions by some physiological mechanism, they inveighed against Obama’s decisions and offered a bit of credit to the British and French (yes, those French, the freedom fry eating kind). You weren’t alone if you missed the expression of pride in country by these self-proclaimed super patriots; or noticed the conspicuous pass they took on an opportunity to praise an American president after a controversial action proved a great success, particularly in the eyes of the aspiring Arab world. Grumpy withholding of credit rarely has looked so petty, penurious and calculatingly dark, and Americans surely did not fail to notice.
As if timed to take advantage of the blossoming election season Republicans seem to be taking every available opportunity to display their party as the nation’s blackest hole of negativity. Their hostility to every proposal to stimulate the economy or to create jobs casts them as a catastrophic death star to the nation’s economy.
Michele Bachmann cites charity as the solution for America’s hyper expensive, inadequately accessible health care system. Coincidentally, doing nothing is what Republicans contributed to the problem for the nearly six years they retained exclusive control of the federal government. Mitt Romney’s plan for the foreclosure crisis? If you didn’t guess zilch, head for the back of the class. The millions of Americans underwater or on the street? Let them eat foreclosures. Ron Paul’s answer to America’s slippage in educational performance? The termination of federal student loans., natch.
With this sort of contempt for the needs of the American people, aerial spraying of DDT on citizens walking in open spaces well may be their next suggestion. What would they have in mind for populations they really disliked, and how would we know the difference?
In addition to Republicans’ inspiring call to massive indifference, they do have some thingsto offer, all of them negative I’ m afraid, seeking as they do to:
Dismantle regulations that protect America’s consumers.
Dismantle regulations that protect Americans’ air, water, natural resources and health and safety.
Prevent regulation of the abuses of the financial sector that resulted in the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Attack the minimum wage and unions, both of which exert upward pressure on the wages of the middle class.
Demolish the safety net and public education, progress achieved by former generations of Americans for the security and betterment of the middle class.
Diminish women’s reproductive rights.
Diminish access to the ballot box.
Diminish enforcement of laws pertaining to civil rights and prevent the expansion of civil rights to others.
Stigmatize and demonize immigrants.
This isn’t to say that if you’re a credit card company, a bank or a billionaire or a global corporation Republicans are not wholeheartedly in your corner rooting for you. If you find non-extinguishable questioning of the president’s citizenship seductive or rejection of evolution and the dismissal of climate science aphrodisiacal then the Republican Party will sweep you off your feet. Otherwise, think of Dick Cheney’s shotgun as the Republican Party and your middle class self as the clipped-wing quail flung toward the end of the barrel.
Republicans’ quest to starve the beast, in other words to reduce the size of government by cutting off the supply of revenue has given us a beast currently resembling a frail and wet coyote. Unfortunately for Republicans, most Americans want the beast healthy enough to provide decent public schools, superior highways, accessible higher education, consumers protected from rip offs and a basic level of economic security, and are willing to pay for it all if the system is fair. They desire a lot more common good than the fetishists of feudalism in the Republican Party.
John Kenneth Galbraith once described the theory of trickle down as stuffing a horse with oats in the hope of finally getting a few of them out of the other end. Our decade long adventure in hyper trickle down has given us a horse the size of a dinosaur dropping out the occasional pellet. What do Republicans do exactly? They reinforce and exacerbate this peculiar dietary regimen while producing political speech that is the rhetorical equivalent of acid rain.
Is there any doubting the truth that the combination of corporate munificence, relentless propaganda from a minority machine of dedicated ideologues aimed at misinformed, low information voters continues to be the only reason this party remains a going concern?