Among the jobs I worked during my college days, dishwashing, laboring in a factory that made the refrigeration carts for grocery stores, and whacking at grass with a swing blade for the local government, dishwashing in a restaurant was by far the most objectionable. There’s just nothing pleasing about the aesthetics of discarded food and soiled utensils. At least there was sunshine and fresh air while hacking at the tall grass, and at the factory job there was a certain feeling of empowerment having ones way with mighty pieces of metal using dangerous and deadly machines.
But I have to think slaving for the cause of radical Republicanism in a world moving in the opposite direction retains its own pungent je ne sais quoi. Other modern nations have rejected or long ago junked all of your favorite solutions, if not every radical and obscure idea you stand for. Yet here you are relegated to inflicting it all upon an unreceptive United States.
What a way to spend your life: arguing that things you opposed to begin with don’t work, even though they do, and everyone including you knows they do. Medicare, Social Security, the New Deal’s programs and regulations, the safety net held close to the bosom of the nation’s majority. Yet your raison d’etre is beating it all back. It’s a job that all but exclusively entails negativity, destruction, obstruction, badmouthing, sabotage, encouraging failure, suppressing solutions, preventing progress, turning back the clock, concocting obfuscations, defamation, belittlement and the derailment of ideas. I’d rather be washing dishes.
There stands Grover Norquist, who’s spent the last thirty years trying to reduce government, “down to a size where we can drown it in a bathtub”, one of the world’s longer serving advocates of feudalism, whose face perpetually has the expression of a man standing up to his knees in a bucket of shit and piss (He sort of is). He seems to survive by taking several hundred milligrams of cynicism with his morning muffin.
It takes a special kind of person, or soul lost to ideological indoctrination to hate Social Security, which today’s rightist breed of ideologues surely does, a program that reduced elderly poverty from epidemic, catastrophic numbers prior to its enactment to levels commensurate with the poverty rate for Americans broadly, and kept them there. Medicare, the program Ronald Reagan so deftly predicted would transform America into a shadow Soviet Union has over the decades helped keep millions upon millions of elderly Americans above water with essentially universal health care for the older demographic (And it boasts the one element similar health insurance systems utilized by every modern industrial democracy boast, and Republicans hate most about it: success).
Republicans, for whom health care reform was a nonexistent issue when they controlled the government, and for whom the health care status quo that has been so disastrous for so many millions of Americans (and for the entire country’s physical and economic health) retains their full devotion, are embarked now with the febrile urgency of pure panic on their most grandiose tantrum yet, attaching a list of fantastical demands for signing on to raise the nation’s debt limit and elude default, demands that include: eliminating funding for all of Obamacare, passage of the antediluvian Ryan Budget, privatization of Social Security (in other words ending it) killing funding for food stamps and Medicaid among others. In their fantasy at least, the nation is forced into the choice of choosing either national default or fully realized American human and economic degradation.
There is little fascination about the outcome: it won’t work. It does of course at least provide assurance to those who need it that Republicans’ retain their capacity for the boldly baroque philistine gesture. However, there is a great deal of fascination for me at least regarding what kind of people can do such things, devote their lives to the debased work of kneecapping a nation unwilling to adopt their ideology and accept their goals. What kind of person does it take to turn so viciously on the citizens of one’s own nation in the cause of an ideology? What kind of person is attracted to a utopian philosophy that provides a utopia only for a select few and disdains the rest? What level of benumbed conscience and responsibility anesthetized by ideology is required to advocate for, or to threaten welching on the nation’s debts, ruination of its credit for whatever reason? There ought to be some limit to what anyone or any group will do to get their way or to attract attention (Sounds pretty naïve about now I guess).
The baseness of obstructing implementation of health reform for millions of people terrified every day and night of losing everything they own due to a medical emergency beyond their control; or who lay awake at night worrying how they will pay insurance premiums higher than the cost of their housing; those who go on suffering with pain or physical diminishment because they have no means to do otherwise; for an entire nation crippled by health care costs and deplorable health outcomes is beyond contemptible: it’s unredeemable mendacity and damning stupidity.
I’ve spent much of my life looking for alternative explanations, and I continue to do so; but as time passes, the evidence continues to narrow down the possible conclusions to one: that to act as these Republicans act simply requires nothing less than supercalifragilistic assholes. And it is sad, because these are your fellow citizens. And yet?
While attempts to untangle what is pathologic, ideological fanaticism, bitterness, resentment, spite, anomie or utter failure of character may be perplexing, what isn’t perplexing is that in lieu of any possibility of rehabilitation, there can only be a single answer: Get the bastards, and don’t stop until nothing is left but a tiny drop of grease on the floor.