After the 2012 general election Republicans promised to “not be stupid” and tamp down on candidates making statements that alienated voters such as Willard Romney’s infamous “47-percent moochers” remark. Of course, Republicans have done nothing to change their message, and have instead spent the past year-and-a-half either calling hardworking Americans inherently lazy for not earning more than poverty wages, or labeled them as moochers for expecting a return on their tax dollars and contributions to Medicare and Social Security pensions conservatives call “entitlements.” There has been a substantial movement among well-established mainstream Republicans to campaign on “educating” Americans about the “value and culture of hard work and responsibility,” and one Republican is promoting a Koch brother agenda that will teach Americans to be self-sufficient in a nation without a government for the people.
Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst said that “What we have to do a better job of is educating the American people that they can be self-sufficient. They don’t have to rely on the government to be the do-all, end-all for everything they need and desire, and that’s what we have fostered, is really a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them. It’s going to take a lot of education to get people out of that. It’s going to be very painful and we know that. So do we have the intestinal fortitude to do that.”
What Ernst claims she has the intestinal fortitude to do is repeal Obamacare, privatize Social Security, abolish education spending, eliminate food stamps, and force people to seek out church assistance once they have been liberated and educated in the Koch tradition of government-less self-sufficiency. She said, “We have to take a good, hard look at entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Obamacare, and Medicare) and figure out how to get people off of those. It’s exponentially harder to remove people once they’ve already been on those programs.”
Ernst’s treatise on government dependency revealed that not only is she a hard line devotee of tea party orthodoxy, she has a perverse vision of America’s 20th Century as a monumental error; because like the Koch’s she sees government for the people as an abomination that needs to be abolished once and for all. Ernst laid out her Koch-libertarian agenda, including the wholesale elimination of each and every one of the New Deal’s protections, under the guise of “educating the American people that they can be self-sufficient.” In Ernst’s mind, educating the people is “gutting and annihilating all government services” that she openly admits will be “very painful” for the American people. However, according to her ideological bent, Americans will soon get over losing unemployment insurance, healthcare, disability insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and workplace protections because they will have been liberated from the government and learned a “very painful lesson in self-sufficiency.” It is the Koch vision for America that Ernst promises to see through to fruition as recompense for their valuable campaign contributions to her Senate candidacy.
Ernst’s intent to enact an incredibly cruel policy vision is to correct what she believes are a rash of America’s past mistakes; like provisions in the New Deal that her Koch donors believe set America on a path of total devastation regardless the benefit to all Americans. Ernst also parrots a typical libertarian mindset that government is evil and claims that Americans have come to “rely on government for absolutely everything” instead of “relying on what churches and private organizations are doing because, as she errantly claims, “government gives them everything.” Ernst means everything like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, access to affordable healthcare, workplace protections and the like, that her historical revisionism informs was not only a complete and utter waste, but something that the people never needed in the first place. It is not clear where Ernst gets her version of early 20th century Utopia that was the Great Depression, but she is certain Americans in food lines and working 80-hour weeks for dirt-pay were not only self-sufficient, but happily liberated from government protections.
Ernst is certain that programs aiding Americans were not there for those who really needed it and were completely ill-suited to help Americans who needed it most whether it was during the recent Republican Great Recession and 80 years ago during the Great Depression. Ernst pretends the gross amount of suffering among Americans could only have been helped by self-reliance and more churches but not government intervention. Most Americans look back at the New Deal’s provisions, after both the 1930s and the most recent Republican recession, and regard them as preserving Americans well-being and elevating their way of life. They also view them as vindication of valuable government programs solely because they assisted the great majority of the people; including the older white people Ernst is likely appealing to most. However, for Ernst and her ilk, every and anything government has done to help the people since the New Deal has been degrading to Americans and teaches them dependence that Republicans are poised to bring to an end, along with the federal government.
For most Americans, the open hostility toward the American people by Koch-fueled Republicans like Ernst is founded on an innate heartlessness toward humanity and not regard for all Americans as “citizens.” As an aside, Ernst does not display the same level of heartlessness toward a zygote she strongly believes the government has a biblical duty to protect and care for by bestowing personhood and constitutional protections by government fiat. It is likely that the majority of Americans do not share either the Koch brothers, teabagger Republicans, or Joni Ernst’s hatred of government programs or the American people. However, for Republicans panting to elect candidates like Ernst to impose a Koch education amounting to “annihilating” all government programs has nothing to do with reducing the size of government and everything to do with enacting policies that “will be very painful” for the people.