Article first published as I Think I’ll Vote Republican — NOT! on Technorati.
On this, the eve of Glen Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, I think it a good time to reflect on what it means to be a conservative in 21st Century America. Beck has scheduled his rally on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “March on Washington.” According to Beck, the purpose of the rally is to celebrate “upstanding citizens who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” Such patriotism, such vision, a staunch supporter of the Republican Party, Beck is at the core of contemporary conservatism.
So, what is it that defines today’s conservative? What is the Republican plan for the future of America?
John Boehner shared the Republican vision for America earlier this week. And fortunately for conservative voters, the Republican platform is far more simple than that of their Democratic counterparts. Republicans don’t spend all that wasted time worrying about equity and ethics and all that stupid liberal stuff. Heck, when your objective is limited to maximizing the profits of big-business and minimizing the tax burden of the top 2%, all that fairness stuff just gets in the way.
Oddly enough, the new Republican Party looks an awful lot like the party of George Bush. So drastic is the likeness, that topping their list of priorities is the extension of the Bush tax cuts — for even the very rich, permanently. They even espouse the same disproven Bush tenet that tax cuts pay for themselves. So, although economists contend that the $678 billion price tag to extend the cuts for the top 2% will directly impact the deficit for which the Republicans feign concern — not to worry — we just need to cut spending.
Ah, but where to cut? Not defense! Oh no, the Military Industrial Complex is the heart and soul of conservative America — not to disparage the fossil fuel industry or the gun lobby. But, with defense costing over $1 trillion and representing more than 25% of the budget, where better to slice? Wait a minute . . . what would George Bush do? That’s it — Social Security can be privatized! Never mind that it’s solvent through 2037 and that with minor tweaking it can provide a vital safety net well into the next century; it’s a huge pool of money just begging to be exploited.
But, what about jobs? The problem is that Americans still expect far too much in compensation for their labor. But is it government’s responsibility to get people back to work? Unemployment is actually a good thing, for business, so long as you don’t have to pay benefits. There are really few things better for corporate profits than an abundant supply of labor so desperate for work that pay-scale and fringes no longer matter. So, the solution is self-evident: oppose any government funding of benefits, rail against government investment in infrastructure or energy or anything else that might tip the balance of economic power, and for God’s sake make sure nothing stops the flow of jobs overseas.
So, less taxes, fewer entitlements, an eager workforce, it’s music to the ears of contemporary conservatism. And the final ingredient to restore the Bush recipe for a prosperous upper crust — more deregulation. Just keep those oil wells pumping, those insiders trading, that gas flowing, and blessed will be the fruit of the offshoring multinational. The heck with the environment. What’s a little oil spill here and a little flaming water there? Businesses have to compete on a global scale, and worrying about the environment just isn’t good for profits. Besides, if you’re already exploiting the people, who gives a care about the planet?
Does any of this sound at all familiar? It should, because it’s Bushonomics 101. Today’s Republican Party promises a full return to the very practices that produced the most meager job growth since the 1940s, resulted in the first decline in median household income of any cycle since 1967, set modern records for the concentration of wealth at the very top, crashed the economy, brought us the Massey mine disaster, filled the Gulf with oil, and divided our nation.
The only real difference between the Bush Republicans and the Boehner, McConnell, Palin, Beck contingent is that where the Bushies confined their fear mongering to terrorists and certain foreign enemies, the 2010 Republicans have turned their sites inward. American citizen or not, if you’re Islamic or Mexican, Black, gay or liberal — you are an “Other,” and that makes you the problem . . . or rather the solution, because wealthy or not, the Republicans still need votes, and with a platform that only benefits 2% of the population, distraction is everything.