In the forest vs. trees discussions over why the Republicans have become a frantic, hysterical party of “No!”, it helps to get some historical context. When Franklin Roosevelt was elected, and began trying to get the country back to work with unprecedented national programs funded by taxpayers’ money, the Bolshevik Revolution (which overthrew the first Russian Revolution that overthrew the Russian monarchy) was less than twenty years old, and the Soviet Union was not only openly dedicated to overthrowing the rest of the (Capitalist) world, but was working hard to export the revolution anywhere it could. ‘Anarchist’ bombings were still vividly remembered in the United States, and it was commonly understood that WWI had been started by just such a revolutionary assassination. Workers’ uprisings, including labor union strikes and battles with the forces of Law and Order, had for decades terrified the Right Sort of People, and caused them to fear for their lives, and more importantly, their fortunes and their grasp on power. That the President of the United States (and supposedly one of the Right Sort of People) could be helping to turn God’s Country into another Bolshevik hellhole angered and terrified the Ruling Class beyond words. Ever since then, the drive to put the genie back into the bottle has been waged as, increasingly, a religious jihad. We are now several generations from that point – the people who tried to overthrow FDR by a military coup are largely dead, but their children and grandchildren still control vast fortunes, and have been raised as fervent acolytes in the Church of Mammon. They are the modern Republican Party, and their fanatic need to destroy every vestige of Roosevelt’s legacy (including LBJ’s expansion pack) and “take our country back” has become an unexamined and knee-jerk reflex religious doctrine. The goal has always been to finish off FDR’s legacy, which now is mainly Social Security – almost all the rest having been destroyed over the years. Having found that voters will refuse to dismantle it, because “getting free stuff from the government” is inexplicably popular, the religious fatwa against Social Security led to a new tactic under Reagan. It’s been known for some time that “guns vs. butter” is a real problem for a nation, especially one with limited resources. Accordingly, the Reagan people decided to use that tactic (cleverly named “trickle down economics”) to destroy Social Security by driving the nation into debt and then triumphantly announcing that the US could not pay for both the military and the hated social programs. This proved surprisingly difficult to bring to a successful end, so the next step was to try again, but this time increasing the pressure by having the country be at war. Still not successful, the Republican Party worked to drain the nation’s money by destroying the vast job base of the middle class and sucking the money up to the top of the food chain by cutting the taxes on the very wealthy, and also going to a state of almost permanent war, vastly increasing the military spending while ensuring that the spending could not be stopped (by making sure that every Congressman and Senator had Important Jobs in his or her district) and mounting a massive PR campaign to convince voters that (a) Liberals and Democrats were trying to destroy the US, (b) that Social Programs sap and impurify all our nation’s precious bodily fluids, and (c) that putting everyone’s retirement money (Social Security, as well as pension funds) in the hands of Wall Street speculators would make everybody rich. Amazingly, this worked far better than could have been expected by anyone other than Mencken, Twain or Barnum. Incredibly, we are now at a place where lots of people are willing to hurt themselves as long as they think that they’ll be hurting their Enemies more. Many of us would rather the government not do anything than that it help American citizens, because we’ve been told that American citizens aren’t Real Americans. All too many of us prefer to believe what we’re told over the evidence of our eyes. Nobody could have predicted this except anybody who knew a little history.
In lieu of that other thing, here’s a little political thought.