What happens when an entire political party embraces the Dark Side? How does assuming the worst of Americans, being willing to ignore the social contract, and openly working to advance the interests of the richest among us make this country a better place? Those things don’t do anything to improve America, of course, but that no longer appears to be of any concern to today’s GOP. Today’s Republicans care about two things and two things only- power and money. Our votes are valuable to them only insofar as they’re a necessary prerequisite to gaining and maintaining power. Achieving that goal requires money- lots and lots of money- which is where entities like Citizens United, Crossroads GPS, and the Koch brothers come into play. In the new Citizens United era of unlimited money without accountability or disclosure, buying democracy is far easier than it’s ever been. Republicans really aren’t any different than Democrats when it comes to desiring power and being willing to bend (or break) the rules in order to obtain and aggregate power. It’s just that Republicans have far exceeded Democrats when it comes to demonstrating that discipline, a lack of ethics, and a willingness to be purchased is the path to power these days.
Republicans will never admit to this, of course, but there’s little doubt that today’s GOP is defined by what they hate- immigrants, homosexuals, Liberals, the unemployed- and what they fear- Islam, health care reform, compassion, abortion rights. The GOP has devolved into a party that finds joy in the suffering of others, and revels in denying the less fortunate desperately needed assistance. They define the “have nots” as lazy, shiftless, and unmotivated- happy to suck at government’s teat as they leech off those who work hard and create value. Those without health care insurance deserve to die. The State deserves the right to execute whom they please. Brown People are sneaking into this country to drop anchor babies and take our jobs. Radical Islamofascism seeks to enslave good, God-fearing American patriots and subject them to Sharia- not that many of them could actually define Sharia. Obamacare is a thinly-veiled scheme that allows evil, godless Liberals to force their Socialist, government-run healthcare upon Americans perfectly happy with their health insurance (never mind that 45 million Americans lack health insurance).
Today’s GOP uses fear and loathing as an instrument of policy. In some respects, 9.11 was the best thing that could have happened to the GOP. 9.11 provided Republicans with a bogeyman they could point to whenever they felt threatened. By invoking the imagery and the understandable fear of another attack created by 9.11, Republicans have manipulated that fear to their own advantage. It’s not about making America safer or protecting the Homeland from the continuing threat of terrorism. No, it’s about Republicans using the fear created by 9.11 to generate enough hatred and loathing to deflect attention from their anti-democratic, pro-oligarchy agenda. It’s about using that fear to gain power, and the money they secure from the oligarchy to generate the propaganda necessary to maintain and increase that power.
The idea of the social contract- the idea that we have an implied responsibility to one another- is anathema to today’s Republicans. Self-reliance and Social Darwinism have been redefined as the highest social goal. If you can’t make it in America, if you can’t stay healthy, can’t find a job, and/or can’t keep a roof over your head…well, that’s just too damn bad. Obviously you’re a failure as a human being and deserving of your fate. If you just worked a little harder, you wouldn’t be in the condition you’re in. That those passing these judgments often live in the lap of luxury and know they’ll never have to worry about where their next Big Mac is coming from is as hypocritical as it is reprehensible.
By the definition of today’s GOP, compassion is synonymous with weakness as charity is with enabling sloth and indolence. If you’re unable to do for yourself, whatever your situation might be, you have no right to expect government to do for you. Ill? Disabled? Uninsured? Unemployed? That’s too bad, but it’s not the responsibility of government to do for those unable to do for themselves.
It’s as if Republicans have decamped from anything resembling compassion and migrated en masse to the Dark Side. They’ve rejected anything that smacks of humanity and embraced a Darwinian view of America as a place where the strong rightfully survive and the weak get what they deserve. I don’t know about you, but this philosophy has nothing to do with the traditional Conservatism that Republicans profess to revere. Traditional Conservatism doesn’t reject the social contract. It doesn’t genuflect to the oligarchy and the military-industrial complex. It doesn’t traffic in fear, hatred, and loathing. It doesn’t reject science. It doesn’t embrace fundamentalist Christianity as the ultimate and only authority on what America should be.
Then again, this isn’t about Conservatism. It’s about doing whatever it takes to acquire, maintain, and increase power and control. It’s about enforcing Social Darwinism and Fundamentalist Christianity as the basis of the American experience and the law of the land. It’s about using fear, hatred, and propaganda in order to manipulate the American Sheeple into doing your bidding.
Welcome to American Democracy: the bidding is now open.