Monday, August 24, 2015

Campaign 2016: Here We Go Again!

This political season is just getting started, and it is already one of the strangest ones in my lifetime.  In an environment where Republicans have obstructed the President and Democratic supporters at every turn, despite historical achievements in multiple areas of government, we are entering into another frustrating adversarial political campaign season.  The hard part is finding any sort of logic in the strategy of the Republicans. 

GOP Ideological Platform:

The platform of the GOP currently has very little substance to stand on.  It is basically this: You know all that stuff that the government does?  We think that we should get rid of most of it.  

Get ridof the EPA: We don’t believe that the government should impose rules and restrictions on business to protect the environment, because the “free market forces” will magically convince those businesses to police themselves and run their businesses in a way that is responsible for the environment. 

Get rid of the FDA: We don’t believe that the government should be imposing rules or regulations on the food and drug producers that in any way inhibit their freedom to do business as they please.  If there are issues with food or inspections, or safety of drugs or medical devices that cause people to get sick or die, “free market forces” will punish them because nobody will buy their products anymore.  (sorry all you people who are dead)

Get rid of the IRS: The tax code is too complicated, and we can’t trust a government institution to set and enforce rules related to taxation.  Instead, we should trust the people who are making all of the money to decide how much they should be taxed on their earnings.  Oh, and with all the “savings” that we get from eliminating the oversight, we can also lower taxes “across the board” for all Americans. (you’re welcome rich people). 

Get rid of Obamacare: We don’t believe that the government should be imposing rules and regulations on medical insurance companies, who are just trying to charge people for the potential cost of a completely inelastic service in an environment of skyrocketing healthcare costs.  Also, please ignore the fact that these companies are some of the most profitable companies in the world (it’s just good business).  Also, if you could forget the fact that the US Government already manages the most effective and efficient medical insurance plans in existence, that would be helpful.

Get rid of Dodd-Frank (or Glass-Stegal, or any financial regulation for that matter): Never mind that the lack of strong regulation on the financial industry led to a global economic meltdown, historic hardship for regular Americans, and virtually no consequences for the people who engineered the collapse, regulations are “bad for business.”  Seriously, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain; regulations are just really, really bad (really!).  By the way, it is better to have “private companies” regulate themselves, kind of like Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s “independently” rated the mortgage derivatives as AAA rating, just months before we all had to buy them up at a “junk” rating to save the world economic system.

Get rid of ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms): You know that part of the government that was created to control the sale and distribution of all the bad stuff that we decided was legal, even though we knew how dangerous it was?  Yeah, that’s the one.  The strange part is that the A&T have been universally attacked because of their clear negative societal and health implications, while the NRA/GOP partnership has managed to make the “F” component completely powerless in the “war on guns” in this country.  I think that Nancy Reagan picked the wrong battle as first lady.  While the war on drugs has succeeded in charging you and I for locking up millions of small time criminals for decades on minor offenses, the invisible “war on gun-regulations” costs us multiple lives every single day, with no end in sight.

But wait a minute; GOP policy isn’t just about rolling back regulation on…everything, right? Of course not, that would be insane…

·      The GOP is definitely interested in expanding the regulations on whether (and when) women can have an abortion, what type of birth control they can use, and who can decide to get married to each other. 
·      They are also very much in favor of increased regulations on who is “allowed” to come to our great nation, and harsher penalties for those who may be here without permission.

·      In addition, they are very much in favor of limiting the constitutional rights of the elected President of the United States to negotiate peace treaties with other nations, especially if with nations that we don’t like very much.  War with those nations is historically the more practical option. 

·      Conveniently, the “Grand Old Party” is also very much on the side of religious groups who would like to use non-legal religious doctrine to justify discrimination against certain groups of citizens and residents of this country while at the same time enacting new laws and regulations to limit the rights that other groups would like to claim based primarily on their (conflicting) religious beliefs.

Well, that doesn’t sound very convincing:
1.     Opposing common sense regulation of industries where lack of regulation has proven time and again to have universally negative consequences for our nation seems to be a bit of a hyper-ideologic reaction (Microsoft is telling me that “hyper-ideologic” is not a word, but I don’t care). It seems to me that regulation of industry is a logical compromise between free market idealism and socialism.  Right? No? Really? OK.

2.     Promoting enormous tax cuts that disproportionally benefit the very, very wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans, while at the same time advancing the argument that our country is drowning in debt that will eventually fall on the shoulders of our children, and using that as an excuse to eliminate programs that benefit the very, very poor seems to suffer from a lack of both logic and compassion (this may be the longest sentence I’ve ever written). 
3.     Not only are these arguments unconvincing, but they are most certainly “un-American,” which is almost certainly why this isn’t the official GOP platform (though I invite a friendly discussion on the above points).

So, given the above facts (and some opinions), what exactly is it about the “GOP’s message” that continues to resonate with so many Americans?

·      First of all, this is generally NOT the GOP message.  For anyone to run on the above platform with be certifiably insane (unless your last name is Trump…more on that later).  The points above attempt to describe the underlying GOP ideology, not the official public GOP platform. 

·      Publically, the party relies on vague buzzwords such as “smaller government”, “lower taxes”, and “more individual accountability” to describe their plans for the country.  In reality, these words are completely meaningless absent of any kind of concrete policy proposals, which generally don’t exist.  

·      The lack of any actual defensible political platform has forced the Republican party to rely on a platform of fear and distraction:

  •  Barack Obama is not a citizen, and refuses to produce a valid birth certificate (despite the fact that he is a citizen and has produced a valid birth certificate).  Whatever, Hawaii isn’t really a state, anyway!

  • Do you really want a Muslim “anchor baby” planted in this country by “Islamist extremists” to take over the country as the leader of the free world?

  • “Obamacare” is the worst thing to ever happen to this country, and will cause healthcare premiums to “skyrocket” and create government “death panels” who will decide whether your Grandma lives or dies.  (pay no attention to the fact that “Grandma” is doing just fine and insurance premiums are increasing slower than ever while the uninsured rate is lower than ever in the history of the country). 
  • “Bengazi” is the result of a President and Secretary of State who completely ignored cries for help from a foreign ambassador and cost the lives of 4 Americans who were protecting our interests in a war zone overseas.  Despite years of evidence to the contrary, there must be some conspiracy and cover-up to exploit politically. 
  • Welfare and food stamps are terrible government entitlements because most people on welfare can afford refrigerators and may decide to purchase something other than McDonalds for dinner.  McDonald’s, by the way, should not have to pay its workers a living wage for making billions of dollars poisoning us all with heart disease, because that would be “Socialist”. 

TRUMP: Donald Trump, who is clearly a brilliant businessman, has managed to climb his way to the top of a ridiculous GOP field of hopefuls by doubling down on every outlandish policy stance they have taken. 
·      Anti-Immigration: I see your “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free”, and raise you, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
·      Obama as Muslim, Illegal Immigrant: Trump was basically the lifeblood and caretaker of the “birther” movement for years.
·      Trump, a billionaire, who has no need to ask others for money, acknowledges the GOP’s pathetic pandering to the Koch brothers and other billionaire donors, as an incredible conflict of interest for a politician, in the following quote (thanks Twitter):
I wish good luck to all the Republican candidates that travelled to California to beg for money etc… from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?”

So, here are Republican politics in a nutshell:

1    1. You can’t run on the platform that you actually support, because it would be too unpopular.
2.    So, you endorse and support crazy conspiracy theories to energize those who are disinterested in politics and distract people from the actual issues that affect their lives. 
3.     A billionaire opportunist businessman who only cares about himself and has no interest in winning the office does a better job of engaging the “disenfranchised” than any other GOP candidate.
4.     GOP is stuck fighting a war on two fronts:
      1.    Democratic “establishment” candidate with typical “Liberal” ideas.
      2.     TRUMP (who is better at doing “crazy” than they are)

Your move Republicans…

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