From this point on I pledge to stop using the terms "conservative" and "Republican" interchangeably. I'm beginning to realize there's a big difference between the two. Conservatives are loyal and well-meaning Americans of good faith who just happen not to share my opinion of what's in the best interest of America. On the other hand, it has become clear that the Republican Party has crossed the line between the loyal opposition, and subversion.
Am I indulging in radical hyperbole? I don't think so. The American Heritage Dictionary defines subversive as "Intended or serving to subvert, especially intended to overthrow or undermine an established government" (emphasis added).
While I don't mean to imply that the GOP is involved in a plot to overthrow our government–at least, not at this point–it is certainly clear that they are deeply involved in a conspiracy to undermine it. Forces within the GOP like Rush Limbaugh and Tom Delay have literally stated that they want President Obama to fail in his attempt to rescue America from our current economic crisis.
One can sugarcoat that anyway that one likes, but the bottom line is, if President Obama fails, the American people are going to suffer greatly. So what these GOP leaders are actually saying is that they're hoping for additional, and severe hardship, to be visited upon the American people. And considering the fact that America is in the throes of a nation-threatening economic crisis (due to a very large extent to GOP governance), I'd say they've crossed the line, from simple irresponsibility, to what could literally be considered subversive.
One might argue that I'm dealing in semantics if it were not for the fact that the GOP has taken its intent beyond mere words to blatant, and clearly defined obstructionism. They're using every legislative device at their command to sabotage the president's rescue plan. While they claim that their concern is about "pork barrel" spending, their claim is transparently disingenuous.
First, the amount of spending that the GOP is jumping up and down about is less than 1% of the rescue plan. So in essence, they're taking the position that one should allow a baby to starve to death because the local market is charging two pennies more for baby food than the store across town. Their rationale? It's a matter of principle. Oh, really?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that making President Bush's tax cuts to the rich permanent, as virtually every Republican wanted to do, "Without offsets, making the tax cuts permanent would increase the deficit and thereby add to the national debt. The interest payments [alone] needed to service this higher level of debt would amount to about $700 billion over the next ten years. Thus, the total cost of making these tax cuts permanent, including the related interest costs, would be $4.4 trillion over the ten-year period" (emphasis added).
In addition, much of the pork in the rescue plan was placed in the stimulus package during the Republican watch, before President Obama even took the oath of office. And beyond that, many of the very Republicans who are complaining, are some of the most excessive spenders.
Republican minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell complains, for example, that the rescue plan spends more "than the previous administration spent in seven years on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina combined." But he fails to point out that he's responsible for more than $75 million of the pork that he's complaining about.
According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, McConnell is responsible for a $950,000 earmark to fund a bikeway for a Western Kentucky University, and $2.9 million to purchase buses for LexTran, and $1.6 million for a forage animal research laboratory.
And for a politician who's so concerned about leaving debt on the backs of our children, it didn't seem to bother him when he landed on CREW's 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress List for, according to CREW, "accepted donations to his campaign and political action committees in direct exchange for earmarking federal funds to clients of Bates Capitol," a lobbying firm owned by McConnell's former chief of staff, Gordon Hunter Bates.
And now we have Republican governors threatening to refuse the stimulus money. Governors Rick Perry (Tex), Mark Sanford (SC), Bobby Jindal (LA), C.L. "Butch" Otter (ID), and of course, Sarah Palin (AL)–all Republican, and all having presidential ambitions, thus, they all have a vested interest in President Obama's failure, and more than willing to let their people suffer to bring about that end. That in itself should demonstrate how we ended up in our current fix. Not just ask yourself–do you think that Obama would allow people to starve, election or not, or under any conditions? Of course not–that's the difference between a statesman and demagogues.
Even Ray Charles could see through the motives of these people–and as we all know, Ray's both blind, and deceased. When was the last time anyone ever heard of any governor telling the federal government that they didn't want more money? You show me a Republican who turns down money, and I'll show you some kind of conspiracy.
Therefore, all of these Republican governors are willing to starve the people of their state for personal gain. In the middle of the worse–not just a national, but world–economic crisis of the last eighty years, they're telling the federal government, "No, I don't want you to help the people of my state. Let their unemployment lapse. We have food in the governor's mansion, and I'm sure the people will survive–somehow." In essence, "Let them eat cake."
Those are not conservatives. They're self-serving, ruthless, and quite literally, anarchists. The American Heritage Dictionary defines Anarchism as, "The theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished"– or as neo-con, Grover Norquist said, "small enough to drown in a bathtub."
No, these are not conservatives, and when we as progressives paint conservatives with the same broad brush as we do people who are blatantly un-American, we do both the nation, and ourselves a gross disservice. We play right into the hands of these demagogues, because their very survival depend on keeping the nation divided. They've prospered for years by keeping us racially divided, but that didn't work in the last election, so now they're desperate–and angry. So it's on to plan B–"By any means necessary."
What has kept America a strong and viable nation over the years is that in times of crisis we've managed to come together–not as Black or white, Jew or Gentile, liberal or conservative– but as Americans, and that's the way we've got to address this crisis.
These demagogues have a philosophy–"Never let any crisis go to waste." What they mean by that is never miss an opportunity to manipulate the people. But we should take that philosophy and turn it on its head to mean, never allow the hardship of a crisis to go for naught, without making us a more insightful, steadfast, and unified America.
We've got to recognize that our inherent diversity is our strength. It makes us more, rather than less. Just as we need the progressive voices of Martin Luther King, Caesar Chavez, and Malcolm X to make us a more just and compassionate nation, we also need the conservative voices of a Gen. macArthur and Colin Powell to make us strong. It's called balance.
But what we don't need are divisive voices like Rush Limbaugh's–that's called, self-destruction.