There was a time, oh, 25 years ago, when I intimated that I might be a Republican. (Gasp!) Yeah, back when I first started paying attention to the news, I decided that less government interference and more liberty was the way to go — and that’s what the Republicans promised. But the Republicans have veered pretty far from that agenda. I haven’t so much, but I do seem to lean much more toward the FDR and LBJ brand of Democrat, where government is used to create a better society and lift everyone up. Today, Republicans use government to enrich the rich and keep down the poor… while letting the poor believe that somehow they too can be rich. It’s a massive fraud on those hopeful downtrodden people.
Anyway. This morning, Eugene Robinson gives perhaps the best description of what “Republicans” are running the government now:
There was a time when the conservative movement in this country was the preserve of principled eccentrics such as Barry Goldwater. These days Goldwater would be thought of as a libertarian more than anything else, a firm believer that what people really needed was a good leaving-alone. In his prime, he occupied fringe territory that was light-years from the mainstream.
Ronald Reagan changed everything, shifting the nation’s center of gravity to the right. In retrospect, whatever you thought of Reagan’s policies — and I didn’t like them — the man at least had a certain generosity of spirit. His idea of the black experience in America may have been Sammy Davis Jr.’s career, his views of women may have been antediluvian and his impression of gay people may have come exclusively from dining with Nancy’s friends, but at least he had some experience of people unlike himself and an appreciation of their humanity.
The crowd now in control of Washington, thanks in part to DeLay’s undeniable skills, could best be described as Reagan’s illegitimate heirs.
Theirs is a greedy, small-minded conservatism. In their policies, they seek not to improve government, and certainly not to shrink it, but to ruin it — to starve the regulatory agencies with tax cuts, then spend so wildly on pork that there’s nothing left to pay for actual government work such as, say, preparing for a hurricane.
The Republican Party’s “small government” rhetoric is hilarious, but while you’re laughing, keep a grip on your wallet. Since 2000, the number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled, to an astonishing 34,750. That’s a lot of mouths at the trough.
DeLay and Co. don’t just want to bankrupt the government, they want to force the whole country to conform to their “moral” prescriptions. On private matters such as abortion, homosexuality, religion, even end-of-life decisions, they demand that all of us do as they say. When it comes to the millions who lack health insurance, though, or to persistent poverty in the inner cities — well, those problems are for individuals and “faith-based” institutions to grapple with as best they can.