In Answer to Your Question... (2/18/10)

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In Answer to Your Question... (2/18/10)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:09 pm

The following are answers to questions that seem to pop up frequently when conversations take place among us more liberal, enlightened sorts:

1. Why are Congressional Democrats so spineless but Republicans always so forceful?

Answer: I have often written about the basic nature of the two-party system, in which one party (in our society the Republicans) represent the interests of those who derive their livelihood from the proceeds of property, and the other (our Democrats) represent the interests of those whose sustenance is earned by the product of their labors or who for whatever reason may require government assistance to obtain such sustenance. The odd thing is that, while Republican leaders recognize this clearly, Democrats, both Democratic leaders and rank-and-file voters, AND Republican rank-and-file voters, seem not to understand this and get all confused by such extraneous matters of policy as social issues, environmental policy, and other specific matters, some of which have relevance to government policy and some of which don't.

By and large, those whose interests are unabashedly championed by Republicans tend to be wealthy and those whose needs would, on a level playing field, be defended by Democrats tend to live hand-to-mouth. Our system of campaign finance requires both parties to obtain the bulk of their funding from those whose interests the Republicans represent -- the wealthy. Wealthy people and corporations chafe under the horribly oppressive burden of campaign finance limits, feeling that they prevent from purchasing the influence over our elected officials that their wealth has earned them, while such limits are totally irrelevant to Democrats because most of us have to scrape and do without something we would otherwise purchase if we want to donate even as much as $50 to a presidential candidate. Democrats therefore cannot frontally assault the privileges of the rich because they too must court the rich for contributions or their campaigns will be starved of funds. Under our current system of privately funding our elections they have no way around this. Therefore, no matter how badly we need to reform the harmful and dangerous practices of such heavily moneyed and politically involved entities as insurance companies, energy companies like Exxon/Mobil, and banks and other financial institutions, their interests will invariably prevail because politicians of both parties are utterly dependent on the goodwill of these special interests if they wish to mount effective and well-funded campaigns for election or reelection.

This effect is far worse in the Senate because of its absurd method of apportioning power. A company like Bank of America could buy and sell North Dakota or Wyoming, along with the two Senate votes that carry as much or more weight as the Senate votes of California or New York.

This problem (well, it is a problem if you are not a "natural" Republican and/or a corporation), of course, will now get much worse in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC.

So Democrats are spineless because they have got to mitigate the thrust of everything they do in order not to offend their natural adversaries on whom they depend for funding, while Republicans can behave forcefully because they have no need to court the good will of anyone other than those whose interests they naturally represent.

2. Why are Republicans so inconsistent in the policies they support?

Answer: A lot of us liberals have noticed that Republicans supported various measures in the past and are opposing them now (and vice versa). Republicans who now preach that deficits will be the bane of our republic were pooh-poohing their effects when they were increasing so rapidly under Bush and when we were running surpluses under Clinton (when they were actually calling deficits good and surpluses bad). They decry Obama's prosecution of domestic terrorists when they thought it was a fine idea when Bush's Justice Department was doing it. They now oppose health care reform measures that they actually proposed in the past. They staunchly defend Medicare now against cuts when they have wished to kill off the whole program in the past. The list of what appear to be their flip-flops go on and on and on.

But these are not really flip-flops and are in fact completely consistent under a form of logic that Republicans follow. It is not about any specific policy but instead revolves around what they think will provide them with political advantage, and when you understand that political advantage is the ONLY thing that matters to them, overriding any need we may have for economic growth, stability, social order, or even national security, then their behavior is perfectly consistent.

They see any success we may have in any area of public administration while they are out of power as being detrimental to their political well-being, and so they will behave in a manner that is detrimental to all other interests while they consistently and exclusive serve the dictates of their own partisan political power. Similarly, they view any hardship we may face, even including such things as economic depression or terrorist attack, as being a plus for their hopes in the next election. If this means that America goes to hell in a handbasket, all the better so long as it can be blamed on Democrats and they can sell that blame to the voters. And they can sell a lot to the voters (see answer to question #1 above).

In a related question...

3. Why are Republicans obstructing EVERYTHING?

Answer: For the same reason that male dogs lick their balls: Because they can.

4. What is it that the Tea Partiers want?

Answer: They haven't the first clue what they want, so how do you expect me to know? They just do as they're told. My strongest theory is that they want to blame somebody for the troubles in their lives.

They seem to be making some old arguments for the same reason those arguments were put forth in the past. They seem to hold "states rights" in some sort of contrived reverence now, always railing against Federal government "intrusion" into this or that. A lot of this is for the same reason that people waved the banner of states rights around in the '50s and '60s, simple racism, intensified because Obama is black. Also, a lot of it has to do with the origins of this "movement," which is orchestrated at its actual "grass root" by the health insurance industry. If our states were more autonomous, wealthy corporations would find it cheaper to buy the influence they need over the regulations of their industries, so they have whipped up in the simple minds of these Tea Partiers the notion that somehow everything would be better if we operated under the Articles of Confederation instead of facing such impediments as the Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment.

But the mess Bush left us in has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people. A lot of these people are cultural Republicans who are not reachable by reason and prefer to accept things as matters of immutable faith. These people are hurting now just like many of the rest of us, but in order to place the blame for it where it belongs -- on Bush and the American right wing and the policies they pursue -- they would have to admit that they were wrong, something that it is particularly hard to do in any faith-based system. So they seek to blame somebody else, preferably those they have been taught are their political adversaries, the Democrats.

It can be fun to ask a Tea Partier exactly what is the nature of the Federal "intrusion" they find so objectionable. They will sputter and froth but they have no answer -- they're just upset about it because they've been told to be upset about it, like they're upset about the deficit and have been told to rail against "entitlements" without even knowing what they are. Sometimes it's fun to tease the ignorant, although it is seldom productive except as an amusement.

They also love to hate Nancy Pelosi. It is similarly fun to ask them exactly what it is that Nancy Pelosi has ever done to them to get them so riled. They never have any answer -- they don't know anything about her record at all. They're just parroting Limbaugh and Beck.

5. Why does Sarah Palin get so much press?

Answer: Because John McCain picked her to be his running mate in 2008. There is no other reason. Her complete blithering ditziness combined with her total absence of ethics and morals, when juxtaposed against the high office for which she was put forth, has precisely that "man bites dog" quality about it that always attracts the notice of the media.

That's all the time I have for your questions right now. Thank you for asking.
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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Ferguson Foont
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