Okay, so let’s get this straight.
We’ve just elected a new Republican majority to Congress, based upon — at least if I’ve got the ads they ran so relentlessly during the campaign right — a promise to rein in big government spending and bring actual jobs back to the common Joes like you and me.
These working Joes (plumbers and otherwise) are the very same folks who’ve spent the last few years fighting for the few remaining available scraps left — since President George W. Bush took the budget surplus handed to him by President Bill Clinton, and squandered it on eight years of fighting a war fueled by post 9/11 emotions and based on false intelligence, all the while giving tax breaks to those who needed it the least.
I mean, is it just me? Or is something completely back-asswards here?
Listen folks, this is about economics, plain and simple. Whatever they may tell you, this is all about the centuries old battle between the rich and the poor.
But the thing is, that in order to push forward their agenda of padding the wallets of the “haves” and the “have mores,” the Republican Party has always had to rely upon the populist support of these same underclasses who have stood to benefit the least by it. From time immemorial, this is how it has worked.
In the past however, the Republicans have succeeded at winning the battle by using tactics appealing to the most deeply held beliefs of honest, hard-working people — those who are the most religious and otherwise.
However, in the aftermath of eight years of corporate welfare which has seen nothing in the way of new job creation — and in fact, has completely gutted many positions once held by working class Americans “outsourced” to foreign countries — such empty, diversionary arguments as abortion rights, gay marriage and “family values” no longer hold any water.
And the thing is, “they” know it.
So what are the Republicans to do to regain support amongst the “rabble?” Simple. They have taken on a new tactic, that is really not so new at all. Refocus the message, emphasize fear, and add a little revolutionary “sexiness” to it. It’s a simple message that has worked for centuries, and guess what? That’s exactly what they have done.
This is precisely how the Republican Party recaptured a congressional majority roughly a month ago, by romanticizing the whole “Tea Party” feel of a largely imaginary populist uprising. It was this sexy, but ultimately dangerous notion of false empowerment that swept so many of them back into Congress. Tea Party? The only revolution occurring here is the one threatening the status quo, and keeping the great unhuddled masses largely trampled underfoot.
Never mind the fact that some of the most extreme of the right wing nutcases — your Christine O’Donnells riding in on a witchbroom and such — didn’t make it. The message still remains the same. People want change, and they are willing, and even desperate to go where ever they can to get it.
The thing is, this is nothing new — but the post-sixties Republicans have always been far better at fostering a sense of false revolution than the Democrats. Even during times when economic conditions favor an atmosphere (you would think at least) that would be more favorable to those struggling to put food on the table or gas in the tank.
The Republican Party have become experts at wrapping the same old message of populist discontent, up in a new “revolutionary” sort of package of some sort of faux uprising.
They may hate the sixties hippies who were the original agents of such change. But trust you and me, they have learned much from their once historical enemies. The fact remains, these politicians aren’t hippies at all, and they wont be offering one iota of spare change once they have left the bar at the Waldorf Astoria. There is nothing “revolutionary” at all about continuing to conduct business as usual, when the sole purpose is to obstruct meaningful change.
Call it what you want. Back in the nineties, it was Newt Gingrich’s post-Clinton “Contract With America.” But the message is always the same sort of “honest! We’ve really changed and are really on your side” sort of bullcrap that influences minds and, unfortunately, often wins elections.
Think I’m kidding? Let’s look at what’s happened since the Republicans took Congress on what mainly amounted to a platform of restoring hope to jobless Americans and barreling down on names like Pelosi, Reid and Obama as agents of the devil, who need to be tossed into some pit of endlessly flaming, eternal hell.
Seriously, let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Their first act appears to be cutting unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs two years ago in the wake of Bush’s gutting of the American economy, while padding the already fat pockets of corporate millionaires with said tax cuts.
Were new jobs created by this? No. Were millions of decent, hard working Americans subsequently forced into unemployment and poverty as a result? Debatable, but mostly yes.
Recently, the argument that unemployment insurance somehow discourages displaced workers to look for a job has been floated out there. Terms like “hobos” and “bums” have even made their way into the argument. This is patently ridiculous. Searching for a job requires having at least some money to do so. You need gas to get to an interview, and you need a computer with high-speed internet access to troll the job boards and otherwise do the necessary networking. Having an actual permanent address also helps, which requires paying rent or making due on the mortgage.
So when it comes to cutting spending and reducing the Bush generated deficit? The most ugly descriptions of people who lost their jobs during the recession I’ve heard recently are that these are the sort of people who are blowing their average $300. a week checks on things like booze or drugs. To hear the Republican version of recent history, it makes more sense to further balloon the deficit by continuing to provide a tax shelter for millionaires, than to stimulate a crippled economy by offering assistance to the people who, you know, actually need it. Time has proven these are the very same people who can and will help jump start the economy by spending the money on necessities like food.
But hey, you Republicans are all about helping these folks, right? Viva La Revolution! Don’t these same people who spent their entire working lives paying into an “insurance policy,” have a reasonable expectation of return on the same when times get tough?
News Flash: It’s already been paid for.
The second biggest thing these new Republican congressmen seem to be hellbent on is preserving the Bush era tax cuts for the rich. Never mind that there is not one shred of evidence that doing so has ever produced jobs (and in fact, that there is considerable recent evidence to the contrary), or that these same politicians ran on a promise of reducing the deficit.
News Flash: Let The Bush Tax Cuts Expire, And You Help Reduce The Deficit.
Not that Obama’s strategy of opening up a can of toothless, bi-partisan appeasement has done anyone any favors. Until President Obama rises to the challenge of the hope and change he so effectively communicated during the 2008 campaign, the Republican march to a new underclass will continue unabated.
And Barack Obama, the guy we put so much hope and trust to change things in, is your one-term, placeholder president.
It’s a weird thing about these Republicans — but they really seem to enjoy it when most of us are poor. Maybe it’s about time we reinvented the wheel ourselves.