Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Doing Well and Doing Good

Consider Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Tom Delay, Scooter Libby, Duke Cunningham, Tom Noe, Ken Lay, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Frist – just to name a few of the GOP’s leading lights who are currently under legal clouds, that is under investigation or under indictment. The question arises: Are there any honest Republicans today? Check this Hall of Shame: http://www.waynemadsenreport.com/gopscorecard.htm

It’s doubtful, of course, that there are many saints among the Vichycrats, but the Republicans seem to have achieved a really prodigious level of scumminess in recent years. It’s perhaps not really surprising, since the entire posture of the party has been a lie since approximately the time of the Checkers Speech. They claim to be the party of ideas, of accountability, responsibility and decency – as opposed to the godless, sex-crazed, drugged-up, fag-loving, libertine Democrats. The ascendance of Karl Rove and W certainly gives the lie to the ‘accountability-responsibility-decency’ part, and now we may well ask, what are their ideas? Insofar as they aren’t just baldly fraudulent and platitudinous boilerplate, like “fiscal responsibility,” the Republican core beliefs are pretty nebulous and negative.

If he can articulate his beliefs at all, today’s ideal Republican might say something like, “I believe in free markets, in economic growth, in minimal taxation and regulation. I believe that government is best which governs least.” This sounds pretty reasonable, but it’s not really much of a program. Most of these people seem to believe in free markets as others believe in unicorns, and they can’t get their minds around Edward Abbey’s apt observation that “Growth for its own sake is the ideology of the cancer cell.” And ‘lower taxes, less regulation’— aren’t both of these negative prescriptions rather than positive plans? (It’s not as if lower taxes, by themselves, can be used to buy heating oil or health care.) So who doesn’t have any real ideas?

In fact, most of these Free Marketeers think the markets are the only things that should be free. They’re “social conservatives” which means they want to very much to regulate what goes on in your classroom, bedroom and doctor’s office. Freedom is for corporations and the people who run them not for individual citizens.

In fact, at least since Nixon, the Republican party has been rotting at the soul because of its fundamental hypocrisies. Nixon consciously sought to peel off Southern Democratic votes by becoming the party of the segregationist, and that “Southern Strategy” is fundamental to the party to this day. It is the party of exclusion. Why else would the Gipper have kicked off his campaign with a “states’ rights” (read, states’-right-to-designate-second-class-citizens) speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where the three civil rights workers were infamouskly murdered. Why else would Poppy have sunk to the Willie Horton ad? George W. Bush would not have won Florida in 2000 unless his brother had managed to significantly suppress the black vote in that state, and there’s considerable evidence that Jim Crow was at work for the GOP in Ohio, in 2004. No matter what ideals Republican pols give lip service to, the driving force of their party is a libido for punishment and exclusion. Grover Norquist and his ilk would reduce government to the police and military (from which the party contributors would kick profit and kick back) and let the free market and the church charities look after culture, education, science, the environment, and the needy.

The Party of the Swiftboaters, having long ago parted company with any use for Truth, has slowly transformed into a national criminal enterprise. (See Josh Marshall on this point here: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/006629.php.) The nebulous credo of the Free Marketeers amounts merely to a confusion of doing well with doing good, and the party leaders, uncultured, incurious, morally and intellectually bankrupt have only two interests, each of which promotes the other: to enrich themselves and their cronies, and to preserve their power. Moreover, like the Party of Orwell’s 1984, the GOP has no idea what to do with the power it has, its tendency, as principle-free bureaucracy, is simply to perpetuate power for its own sake.


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