The Impending Collapse
“Until voters learn to act strategically to reward problem solving and punish obstruction, American democracy will remain in serious danger.”
Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein
The apparent level of civic ignorance among adult Americans and the seeming absence of due diligence on their part are approaching the crisis stage for the body politic and the 225 year old constitutional Republic. Despite a documented history of duplicity and deception by the Republican Party over more than three decades, roughly 45% of the electorate still expresses a preference for Republican Presidential candidates. At least since the 1980’s, Republicans have derided the Democratic Party for its “tax and spend” proclivities. By contrast, they have represented themselves as fiscally responsible champions of national security and personal liberty. The common name for their fiscal theory is trickledown, but it is more accurately characterized as “voodoo economics.”
For a minimum of thirty years, Republicans have had one recurrent theme regarding government fiscal policy and economic stewardship. According to them, showering huge sums of money on the richest people and deregulating virtually every industry and financial institution in America will create “a rising tide” of financial opportunities that help the middle, working and poor segments of society as much as the wealthy and the powerful. The trickledown theory has never worked. From the time of Herbert Hoover [even though it was not called by the current name] through George W. Bush, tax cuts for the rich do not work and the economy almost always gets worse. Although the label “tax and spend” is a cutting epithet, it actually makes sense, and could be seen as a commitment to living within one’s means.
The Republicans should be characterized as the party of “borrow and blow.” The Republicans have repeatedly slashed taxes and increased spending while vowing to impose fiscal responsibility during every campaign. The graph below illustrates the deceptive nature of the claim that tax cuts yield increased government revenue. Note that since Lyndon Johnson, every Democratic President who has completed his term of office has increased revenue more than spending. Moreover the opposite is the case, under all five Republican Presidents, since Nixon, government revenue has decreased and spending has increased. This is positive, unambiguous proof that cutting taxes does not increase revenue. Yet Republicans persist in trying to sell this blatant canard and they are allowed by the media and the voters to get away with it!
The contrast between President Clinton’s tax policies and those of G. W. Bush are dramatically evident from the above graph. By setting up taxes to help the middle class and small business Clinton stimulated economy so much that we saw the largest increase in government revenue in history. The Neo-Con “trickle down” policy clearly does not work. You cut taxes and you reduce government revenue, period. That is the real truth, no matter how many times we are told you must make the rich richer to improve the economy it has never been and will never be the truth. Such a policy does not work and the data presented above clearly shows this.
As bad as the persistent traction of this fallacious contention is, the true danger to the Republic arises from the seeming inability or unwillingness of the mass media and roughly the citizenry to recognize and reject this duplicity. If the deficit and the national debt are proper topics of concern, they can only be effectively addressed if the historic truths of their source are understood and acted upon. In the Great Depression President Roosevelt got into office, raised taxes on the rich, created jobs for the poor and turned things around. When he took office, President Clinton took a similar approach and, as Roosevelt had done, revived the economy. Instead of making the rich richer in hopes that they would spend that money, create demand and therefore jobs, Clinton created a tax environment that encouraged the creation of jobs directly. He created an economic environment where everyone could get rich, not just a few, and it worked. Millions of jobs and lots of new millionaires were created during Clinton’s time in office. More new millionaires were created during the Clinton administration than at any other time in our history. President Clinton, whatever his failings, took on the Republican candidates and the Republican obstructionists in Congress and he beat them. The broad majority of the American people benefited.
In the second decade of the twenty-first century, however, the Republican Party is not what it was in during the Clinton presidency. As Mann and Ornstein observe, “The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of is political opposition.” When this new reality is combined with the persistence of voter gullibility, the prospects for effective governance are diminished almost to the point of eclipse.
As Gary Hart stated, when the word liberal was demonized by Republicans and the chattering classes most Democrats substituted the word progressive to describe themselves, their proposals and their principles. Progressive has the root word progress which means forward movement, advance, development, and improvement. Progressive is defined as moving forward, rapid reform, modern efficient, and proceeding step by step. These are not bad descriptors for a party of hope and change. Much of American history and certainly its highpoints can be characterized as an effort to move forward and create a more perfect, just, peaceful, secure, prosperous and open society. This calls the question – “What are today’s bitter political clashes really about?”
Gary Hart has a concise answer:
“They are about government. Conservatives want government to protect them, and otherwise leave them alone. In the laissez faire, everyman-for-himself nation a few will rise and the rest are on their own. The rest, of course, includes the elderly, children and the disabled. Since this philosophy has no room for a social contract, private charity (“a thousand points of light”) picks up the pieces. As is often pointed out, this philosophy leaves no room for food inspection, health and safety protections, clean water laws, bank deposit insurance and a host of other public services the vast majority favor.”
Conservative heroine Margret Thatcher declared, “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbor.” In this Ms. Thatcher and those who agree with her surpass George Orwell. Because there is “no such thing as society,” there is no need for government. Every person is looking out for number one and the Devil can take the hindmost. We live not in a perfectible union, but a predator nation where nature is red in fang and claw and it is a war of each against all. This view is diametrically opposed to the perspective of America’s Founders who mutually pledged to each other their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. In a masterpiece of deception, the proponents of “there is no society” have represented themselves as conservatives. In repudiating the foundational promise of a nation dedicated to the proposition of human equality, one must truly wonder what these people seek to conserve.
Despite the thirty year track record of successful deception, Republicans cannot succeed in undoing the mystic chords of memory that stretch from every battlefield and patriot grave to every heart and hearthstone if the citizens come to their senses and “learn to… reward problem solving and punish obstruction.” This is not important only in regard to deficits and debt. It is vital in a vast range of issues including the currently most pressing matter of the economy.
Once again, Republicans confidently and consistently assert they have the answer: “slash spending and cut taxes” and while you are at it deregulate virtually everything accept female reproductive options. This is simply another bold and brazen electoral con game. Republicans are striving to convince voters that the economic problems  result from big spending policies President Obama has not pursued [largely due to their obstructiveness] and  the difficulties can be overcome through more of the same policies that have failed and continue to fail. For example, total government spending, local, state, and federal, “has recently been falling at a rate not seen since the demobilization that followed the Korean War.”
Apart from the brief boost of the American Recovery Act in late 2009 and early 2010, government spending has been steadily falling. Struggling state and local governments have lain off teachers, librarians, firefighters, police officers, and numerous others. Vital jobs in states and communities go undone and local economies suffer as a result. “Overall, the picture for America in 2012 bears a stunning resemblance to the great mistake of 1937, when F.D.R. prematurely slashed spending, sending the U.S. economy — which had actually been recovering fairly fast until that point — into the second leg of the Great Depression.” [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/04/opinion/krugman-this-republican-economy.html?_r=1&hp] In President Obama’s case, however, much of the responsibility for this wrong-headed policy belongs to the completely obstructive Republicans in Congress. Historically, this foolishness launched the second leg of the Great Depression. Given the deteriorating civility and fraying political bonds that plague America today, a repeat of this folly in the twenty-first century threatens the survival of the Republic.
Votes have consequences every bit as much as elections because votes determine the outcome of elections. People have a genuine responsibility to cast an informed vote and to resist the toxic fog of misrepresentations, half-truths, fabrications, and nonsense that office seekers and their financiers will spread to capture victories. At this time in this election cycle valid information is still attainable. It is a moral responsibility for every American voter to find the facts and base her or his voting decision on the facts. If the consent of the governed is secured dishonestly or bestowed negligently, the entire history of the American Republic will be betrayed and the future of America’s children will be despoiled.
Our nation has a crisis in Congress worse than anything it has seen in 150 years. The sooner more of us recognize that, the sooner we can get to work on solutions that are appropriate to the problem. While both parties participate in the partisan warfare, both sides are not equally culpable. The political system faces “asymmetric polarization,” with Republicans in Congress implacably refusing to allow anything that might help work to the political advantage of the Democrats. These intransigents have placed party before country and they must be turned out of office. If they gain the presidency, their self-serving policies will hasten the demise of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We, the people, are the only force on earth that can prevent this.
Tags: 2012 election, Congress, deception, Democratic, economy, evidence, lies, Republican, Responsibility, Truth, Voters