Politicians often frame upcoming elections as a defining moment in history that decides the fate and direction of a country; this year is no different. There is a fundamental difference between the two political parties and this year Republicans envision a contest that evokes pre-Civil War America, except this time, it is much more than slavery that divides the nation. At issue is whether or not America has a functioning government and voters must decide if the Constitution is still relevant to preserving democracy or whether it has worn out its usefulness as the law of the land. It appears that the major question Americans must ponder is what kind of country they want and more importantly, what kind of people Americans aspire to be.
The Republican candidates for their party’s nomination for president have all weighed in on the importance of the 2012 general election and made statements that summon fear and hopelessness at the prospect of giving President Obama and Democrats any say in governing America. All of the Republicans portray America as a nation on the decline because their vision of America, a vision that portends poverty for the masses and more wealth accumulated at the top, is not proceeding fast enough to satisfy the wealthy elite or theocratic fundamentalists.
The Republican Party portrays the federal government as destroying the economy, oppressing free enterprise and unrestrained capitalism, and tyrannizing Americans. The Republicans are attempting to redefine the current government as a radical Socialistic entity because programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and federal agencies from transportation to safe medicines and food helps protect the American people and not big business. President Obama and Democrats see the government as protecting fair competition, preventing privatization of public agencies, a necessity to maintain a healthy economy, and the tool to give opportunities to those who are not born into wealth.
Mitt Romney said the impending election is, “not to replace a president but to save a vision of America. It’s a choice between two destinies,” and he urged voters to ask; “Who are we as Americans, and what kind of America do we want for our children?” Romney has given America a glimpse into his vision for America and it is a nightmare for this country now and herald’s disaster for our children and their children’s children. Romney’s vision is where corporations have the only voice in government and gives American’s assets to the wealthiest 1% and their corporations. He envisions a country where Massachusetts’s residents have universal healthcare but the rest of the country wallows in ill-health because he promised to repeal the Affordable Health Act on his first day in office. Willard Romney, as much as any Republican candidate, foresees an America that punishes gays and women for not adhering to biblical edicts and suppresses individuality and prosperity for all but the wealthy elite. The destiny Romney envisions will take this country on a path of economic ruin by exceeding Bush-era conservative policies as well as Koch brother’s Libertarian, unrestricted and unregulated free market capitalism that nearly caused a world-wide economic collapse.
Newt Gingrich said the upcoming election is “the most important election since 1860, because there’s such a dramatic difference between the best food-stamp president in history and the best paycheck candidate.” Gingrich’s comments are fallacious and dirty campaign rhetoric, but his reference to pre-Civil War does signify a great divide between liberal and conservative ideologies dating back to the Great Depression, not the Civil war. Republicans promote unrestricted corporate malfeasance unfettered from government regulations that is essentially different from a government that protects its citizens from poverty, ill-health, and no hope of ever escaping despair. Rick Perry promises to return to pre-New Deal America and make “Washington, D.C., as inconsequential in your life as he can make it.” By inconsequential, Perry means eliminating government programs that are consequential to starving Americans as well as every American who enjoys a safe food supply, roads and highways, and agencies that safeguard against unrestricted and unregulated corporate domination. Perry, like Romney, Gingrich, and the rest of the Republican candidates are promising to eliminate the government, and they are not just referring to lower taxes or reducing the federal deficit. Willard Romney typifies Republican ideologues and liars to claim, for example, that President Obama’s intent is to change America into an egalitarian society akin to Communism.
Romney made some accusations about President Obama that, besides being false, are meant to frighten hardworking Americans into believing the President will steal their wealth and redistribute it to undeserving Americans. Romney claimed in a campaign speech that the President “believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing; the government.” Although his statement is absolutely fallacious, it reveals the Republican mantra that Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, food stamps, and student loans are unfair instances of redistributing wealth and are taking America on a path toward a communal society.
All of the rhetoric from Republicans attempting to portray the government as the root of all evil and America’s problems is an attempt to undo New Deal programs that took America from a corporate, monopolistic society to a country that provided a better standard of living for Americans then and into the future. Bush and Reagan tried unsuccessfully to dismantle the New Deal that Americans have depended on and support, and the current GOP class is back again for another assault on FDR with privatization scams and scare-tactics that if successful, will be the ultimate redistribution of Americans’ wealth. Privatizing Social Security and Medicare takes Americans’ tax dollars and redistributes them to Wall Street and the insurance industry to eliminate the part of government that protects Americans in their old-age and ill-health.
The goal of Romney, Perry, Gingrich and the rest of the Republican field is to change America into a plutocracy and destroy any vestiges of democracy. The Republicans have sent a message that federal courts that protect Americans’ freedoms will be eliminated by presidential decree and effectively render the Constitution null and void. Republicans signed on to the Grover Norquist school that promises to drown the government in a bathtub that plays well to the tea party who cheered at the news of S&P’s downgrade of America’s credit rating, but for nearly half of Americans who are stuck in poverty and depend on social safety nets for food and shelter, eliminating the government is not an option. For half of America that suffers the effects of Republican’s financial deregulation that caused the Great Recession, Romney’s contention that President Obama will take assets they do not have and redistribute them smacks of vitriolic lies and misinformation.
The upcoming election is a referendum on what kind of people and country America will become. Will Americans choose to be selfish, greedy people who believe the poor, disabled, seniors, and children deserve to go hungry and homeless, or a unified country intent on helping all citizens achieve a decent, productive life? If Republicans have their way, America becomes a population of peasants serving the wealthy elite and attempts to destroy the government reach fruition. It is a simple choice.
The GOP has created a glimpse of what lies ahead if they prevail and sets the country on a course that gives everything to the wealthy and sends more Americans into poverty. None of the Republicans in Congress or those seeking the presidency plans to create jobs or help struggling Americans. They do intend huge tax cuts for the wealthy, corporations and the oil industry with middle class and low-income Americans’ tax dollars they claim will eventually create jobs, but the trickle-down theory has proven false for thirty years. For all of 2011, Republicans have cut spending on essential programs that affect children, seniors, women, and the infirm and attempted to raise taxes on 160 million Americans while striving to cut taxes for the wealthy during the super committee negotiations tasked with deficit reduction.
The Republicans are gambling that Americans will support their assertion that government must be made inconsequential; translation government must be eliminated. The danger Americans must consider is that without government there are no safeguards against a dictatorship or GOP attempts to abolish the Constitution for being anti-corporation and protecting religious freedom. The choice for Americans is not just whether a Black man sits in the Oval Office, but whether America survives an onslaught on government and the freedoms and equity it provides. The frightening aspect is the number of Americans that are willing to sacrifice their freedoms and prosperity in order to revert to turn-of-the-century America when African Americans, gays, women, and the poor were held in contempt for existing.
Republicans’ vision for the future of America is rife with pain, suffering, hunger, and religious persecution and it is astounding the GOP candidates are unapologetic in their drive to fashion America into Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan. Americans are fortunate, for the time being, that they still have a Constitution and government that protects them because that is all that stands between a Republican dictatorship and freedom to prosper and attain more than poverty and despair which is what the GOP rhetoric really portends.