If a person is considered compassionate, they are said to have profound feelings and displays of empathy and passionate regard for the suffering of others. Over the past few weeks, Republican Paul Ryan, who is renowned for having profound antipathy and blatant contempt for the suffering of other Americans was being touted as the new face of rebranded Republicans as compassionate conservatives. For many Americans, the term compassionate conservative is the prototypical oxymoron, and although Republicans do have compassion for the rich and corporations, their conservatism is best defined as unwilling to change their utter contempt for 98% of the population.
The notion that Ryan, and Republicans as a group, are compassionate in the true sense of the word is laughable on its face, but they are demonstrably conservative in adhering to their practice of deteriorating the plight of tens-of-millions of Americans still suffering from eight years of Republican economic malfeasance and three years of debilitating economic austerity. Based on the recent budget agreement moving the Ryan Path to Prosperity plan forward, and John Boehner’s acknowledgment the measure was “only a small step and doesn’t go far enough,” it appears that Americans should brace for the real onslaught of conservative compassion about to be unleashed on the people; particularly the poor, infirm, and elderly.
To put Ryan’s face on the new compassionate conservatism is an affront to any American familiar with his contempt for suffering Americans. Ryan is a devotee of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that honors selfishness as a virtue and the poor’s (takers) suffering a disease sucking the life out of wealthy “makers” dog-given right to the wealth of the nation. In fact, Ryan adheres to Rand’s ethics that posit it is a sin, and immoral, for society to help other people because it creates dependency defining any iteration of altruism as sheer evil. Further, Rand considered collectivism (her name for democracy) the ultimate expression of evil because it creates a society where government works for the population; a principle the Founding Fathers defined as providing for the general welfare of the people. It explains the prevalence of voter suppression in Republican-controlled states to disenfranchise the poor who are likely to vote for representatives dedicated to working for the people, and explains the conservative High Court’s inclination to give inordinate power to the wealthy and corporations over elections to dismantle the government and reap the profits that Republicans regard as virtuous.
The real Republican compassion is due to be exposed early in 2014 when Republicans will be asked to raise the debt ceiling in February. The probable targets will be aspects of compassionate conservative Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity omitted from the budget agreement the Senate is expected to pass next week. Americans can look for Medicare, Social Security, education, regulations, corporate taxes, and food stamps to go on the chopping block in exchange for raising the debt limit. They can also expect John Boehner to make amends with true conservatives and reject calls to extend unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans that Democrats left out of the budget agreement as an early Christmas present. Naïve Democrats who claim they hope to address the plight of the jobless early in 2014 likely missed John Boehner’s promise that the austere budget agreement was “only a small step and doesn’t go far enough” towards Republicans’ goal of reducing the deficit he claimed is spiraling out of control.
As another prime example of Republican compassion, their budget agreement with Democrats left 99.6% of sequester cuts in place ($1.1589 trillion out of $1.2 trillion minus $85 billion in 2013) over the next nine years that many Democratic supporters touted as a victory. Republicans, especially John Boehner, can hardly wait to impose more cuts in 2014 to shrink the government, slash domestic spending, and protect Wall Street, banks, and corporations from “out of control taxation and regulations” he asserted was his reason for coming to Washington. To precipitate shrinking the government, the budget agreement contained no tax reforms to prevent any new revenue, and it was conservatives displaying compassion for the wealthy and corporations that escaped unscathed and are likely to enjoy another round of tax cuts when debt limit “negotiations” roll around in February.
There are several expressions of the “new” compassionate conservatism Republicans displayed throughout the course of 2013, and will likely continue in the New Year. One can only imagine what those waiting for immigration reform that passed with bipartisan support in the Senate felt when John Boehner refused to allow a House vote because it would have passed. The new year will require the Senate to start anew and give House Republicans another opportunity to display their brand of compassion and block it again. The food stamp provision that expired on November 1st affected over 47 million hungry Americans, most of them working families, children, and the elderly, and Republicans touting newfound compassion are panting to slash them by at least another $39 billion. Mr. “compassionate conservative” Paul Ryan called for $133 billion in cuts in the full version of Path to Prosperity that virtually eliminates food assistance for tens-of-millions of seriously hungry Americans.
The minimum wage is creating a nation of working peasants, and besides rejecting calls to raise the federal minimum, many of the most compassionate conservatives, including Ryan, Boehner, and Eric Cantor eschewed an increase as unnecessary due to job gains in November. True conservatives, those without compassion, are calling for eliminating the minimum wage altogether. The Heritage Foundation John Boehner pretended to be angry with two days ago agreed with Boehner and said, “raising the minimum wage sounds compassionate. Thinking a second time shows that it would hurt the very workers its supporters want to help.”
The list of reasons Republicans lack any sense of compassion is endless, and it is probable they will convince many of their supporters their barbaric policies and cuts, including the deplorable budget agreement, was the height of compassion. Those adversely affected may think otherwise; unless they live in the South and dependably support their own demise by voting exclusively for Republicans. What is surprising though, is the gross number of Democrats in the House that voted in lockstep with real and compassionate conservatives for a budget that deliberately left out extending unemployment benefits for 1.3 million Americans. It is highly likely they were ill-inclined to show preference for the long term unemployed when they voted to keep 99.6% of the sequester cuts in place for nine more years that are slated to kill a million jobs in 2014 alone. Democrats can never be blamed for discriminating against any group so maybe that was their justification for failing current and future unemployed Americans.
President Obama said through a White House statement that Ryan’s compassionate budget does not include everything he called for, but that “it marks an important moment of bipartisan cooperation that both sides can work together to get things done.” However, if bipartisan cooperation includes Democrats joining new “compassionate conservatives” like they did with the budget agreement, it looks like 2014 is going to be a very devastating year for more than just the unemployed, and those without healthcare, enough food, decent wages, or adequate pensions will be in for a very rough year.
Author note: The previous image was replaced out of deference to readers’ affront over Holocaust victims. It was not the intent of the image, or the article. It was a case of ignorance of the image and not insensitivity.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.