The Disunited States Of GOP America

Over at the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne argues (correctly, I believe) that the GOP Clown Car Cavalcade’s central tenet is to run for head of a government they insist cannot work, a Disunited States of America in a very real sense, freed from oversight, responsibility, and oversight from Washington, shades of Goldwater’s 1964 run.  What it does is leave President Obama as the classic conservative in the race, fighting to defend the advances in social welfare and the safety net made over the last three generations.

The GOP is engaged in a wholesale effort to redefine the government help that Americans take for granted as an effort to create a radically new, statist society. Consider Romney’s claim in his Bedford speech: “President Obama 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.”

Obama believes no such thing. If he did, why are so many continuing to make bundles on Wall Street? As my colleagues Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman have been insisting, Romney is saying things about the president that are flatly, grossly and shamefully untrue. But Romney’s sleight of hand is revealing: Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.

Obama will thus be the conservative in 2012, in the truest sense of that word. He is the candidate defending the modestly redistributive and regulatory government the country has relied on since the New Deal, and that neither Ronald Reagan nor George W. Bush dismantled. The rhetoric of the 2012 Republicans suggests they want to go far beyond where Reagan or Bush ever went. And here’s the irony: By raising the stakes of 2012 so high, Republicans will be playing into Obama’s hands. The GOP might well win a referendum on the state of the economy. But if this is instead a larger-scale referendum on whether government should be “inconsequential,” Republicans will find the consequences to be very disappointing.

Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann all join Perry in calling for the wholesale elimination of government Cabinet departments.  And as Dionne points out, Romney has now joined the group of Republicans who are running to dismantle as much of the federal government as possible, to leave us in an era where the states and cities fight amongst themselves for the favor of the “job creators” in a race to the bottom, each location offering more incentives than the last at greater and greater expense of their least wealthy constituents.

If you believe that states should be engaging in Hunger Games style combat and brutal competition not to create new jobs, but to strip them from other states in order to “win”, then the GOP is your party in 2012.  It would be nice if Dionne’s last sentence were true, that Americans wouldn’t vote against their own self-interests, and yet tens of millions will.  The only question in 2012 is if enough will turn out to defend the United part in the name of the country.  If you believe that America is in this together, and that there’s a role for government in a federal system, then yes, President Obama seems to be the only one keen on going that particular route.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

43 replies
  1. 1
    Linnaeus says:

    We’re seeing increasingly that the Republican vision for the United States is a neofeudal one. Corporate CEOs take the place of the old feudal barons, the professional managers are the reeves and baliffs, and the remainder are the new serfs. Even the language is analgous: “job providers/creators” instead of “lords”, the term “lord” deriving from “loaf giver” or “loaf keeper”.

    Democracy is dangerous to this vision because the people are in a position to mitigate or reverse the desired social order of conservatives.

  2. 2

    What is a conservative?

    In many ways, Obama is conservative, sort of like Eisenhower. I often suspect he does some things because he’s trying to preserve [or conserve] the union.

    The Republicans, on the other hand, are pushing a very radical agenda. They are pushing for disunion and perhaps a federation.

    We’ve been here before. It sure would be nice to answer that question this time through political means rather than military force.

  3. 3

    I’ve always said the central conceit of your modern Republican Party is an oxymoron. Yes, political Republicans are running for a seat in the government they insist doesn’t work, or even have a serviceable function in modern society. If you believe government is the problem, not the solution, then why on earth do you want a job in it? If you’re a vegetarian, why would you be a butcher? If you’re a Scientologist, why would you be a psychiatrist?

    Etc.

  4. 4
    Yevgraf says:

    The true conservative candidate that needs to be drafted at the convention is the very definition of the selection of the 27 percenters – Alan Keyes.

    It would be awesome.

  5. 5
    Linnaeus says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    The Republicans, on the other hand, are pushing a very radical agenda. They are pushing for disunion and perhaps a federation.

    Or, perhaps, a parallel quasi-state run by plutocrats that makes the real decisions of our society. The Republicans would preserve the formal structures of our government to at least some degree in order to grant legitmacy to the real powers.

  6. 6
    Yevgraf says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    They’re aiming for that which they have always had as a target – a pretty sounding but unenforceable Bill of Rights, meangless in every way.

  7. 7
    Yevgraf says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    They’re aiming for that which they have always had as a target – a pretty sounding but unenforceable Bill of Rights, meangless in every way.

  8. 8
    Linnaeus says:

    @Southern Beale:

    If you believe government is the problem, not the solution, then why on earth do you want a job in it? If you’re a vegetarian, why would you be a butcher? If you’re a Scientologist, why would you be a psychiatrist?

    Government is a problem for Republicans insofar as it functions potentially as a means to equalize power among citizens through the exercise of democracy (in the general sense). But when government serves the will of the most powerful and enforces the resulting social order, that’s government that works well, in their view.

  9. 9
    brettvk says:

    @Linnaeus: The fantasy novels that are set in a post-apocalypse, deconstructed US always posit feudalism as the natural result of societal breakdown. Maybe we’ll get feudalism first.

  10. 10
    brettvk says:

    As my colleagues Greg Sargent and Paul Krugman have been insisting, Romney is saying things about the president that are flatly, grossly and shamefully untrue.

    Dionne is of the Village, isn’t he? He’s coming very close to actually using the l-word here. I live in hope.

  11. 11
    Schlemizel says:

    These assclowns always say they think the government should be run like a business but what sort of morons hire a CEO who believes the company is evil and should not exist?

  12. 12
    debg says:

    Zandar, thanks for bringing up The Hunger Games–I was just re-reading (okay, re-listening) and could not escape the Occupy parallels. Spooky, as revolutions of any magnitude don’t always replace the old system with anything better.

  13. 13
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Southern Beale:

    If you believe government is the problem, not the solution, then why on earth do you want a job in it? If you’re a vegetarian, why would you be a butcher? If you’re a Scientologist, why would you be a psychiatrist?

    To stretch the analogy, the GOP are radical vegetarians who don’t want anyone to eat meat. So they become butchers for a while, and poison all of their customers.

    As for the idea of drowning the government in a bathtub, most of the radicals today seem to think that they don’t need a government or a society in order to become very rich. They somehow imagine a world that functions like society today but does not have a post office to deliver things to people, or courts to enforce laws and contracts, or a means to build roads to connect customers to factories, etc. I have never understood that mentality.

  14. 14
    Joey Maloney says:

    Oversight, responsibility, and oversight? Spam, eggs, bacon, and spam?

  15. 15
    gnomedad says:

    Wingers will believe any number of contradictory things about Obama as long as they are all bad. He’s stupid and cunning, redistributionist and elitist, atheist and Muslim, fascist and communist …

  16. 16
    Linnaeus says:

    @Schlemizel:

    These assclowns always say they think the government should be run like a business but what sort of morons hire a CEO who believes the company is evil and should not exist?

    I’d argue that you have to look beneath the surface of Republican rhetoric about government. It isn’t that they don’t want it to exist, it’s that they want a confluence of state and private power concentrated in the hands of the “right” people.

  17. 17
    drkrick says:

    If you believe government is the problem, not the solution, then why on earth do you want a job in it? If you’re a vegetarian, why would you be a butcher? If you’re a Scientologist, why would you be a psychiatrist?

    If you’re morally opposed to a significant portion of the medicines currently available, why would you want to be a pharmacist?

  18. 18
    Raven says:

    @drkrick: Fighting for peace is like fucking for chastity?

  19. 19
    vtr says:

    Another guess would be that since it has no viable candidate for the presidency, the GOP will concentrate its effort and money on capturing large majorities in both the House and the Senate, then paralyse and disable the government. Please, somebody, tell this is not true.

  20. 20
    Irving says:

    …it’s the logical endgame of Fox News/Limbaugh/right wing ideology as entertainment. We’ve had an entire generation of politicians raised to think that the bombs and bromides tossed out by people who have to talk for hours at a time are the shining truth of government…and that everyone who’s sane and ethical must agree with them. Reality’s going to be a harsh mistress.

  21. 21
    Bill H. says:

    When I saw the title I thought we were goinmg to be talking about something that mattered. So the parties disagree on ideaology: they have been doing that for decades.

    The real and really destructive disunity that is destroying our ability to govern ourselves as a nation is embodied in one statement, a statement which is the basis of governance for both sides, “I have the responsibility to serve the best interests of the people of my state/district.”

    Wrong. The federal legislator has “the responsibility to represent the principles of the people of his state/district the responsibility in serving the best interests of the people of the nation as a whole.”

    No bill can pass Congress until it has been carved up and added to in the parochial interests of fifty individual states, by which time it serves no useful purpose, and is actually harmful, to the nation as a whole. That is because no legislator cares what a bill does for the nation, he cares only what it does for his home state/district, and the votes that it will get within his electoral zone.

    That’s why we have Congress at 9% popularity but at 90% reelection. “All Congresspeople are bad, but my Congressman need to be reelected because if I elect a new one my state won’t carry as much weight in Washington and laws won’t favor my state, nor will as much federal money be spent in my state. So boot the rest of them out, but reelect mine.”

    This is a nation divided against itself. This is fifty states, each grabbing for the biggest hunk of pork out of the barrell, each wanting as much as it can get for itself and not caring what happens to the nation as a whole.

    This is the disunity that matters, not that one political party disagrees with the other, but that a nation divided against itself cannot stand.

  22. 22

    Scott Walker named Governor Of The Year by Governor’s Journal.

    A publication which does not exist except in the mind of an astroturf right wing front group.

    Hilarious.

  23. 23

    @Linnaeus:

    I’d argue that you have to look beneath the surface of Republican rhetoric about government. It isn’t that they don’t want it to exist, it’s that they want a confluence of state and private power concentrated in the hands of the “right” people.

    This would be a plutarchy or maybe an oligarchy, right?

    Barack and Michelle are obviously not part of the right people, the Occupy participants aren’t the right people, union members and labor activists aren’t the right people, etc.

  24. 24
    gnomedad says:

    Wingers don’t really want government dismantled; that’s just code for tax cuts and no more t-bone stamps for shiftless young bucks. They still want bombs dropped, brown people kept out, and hippies punched.

  25. 25
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Southern Beale: They want a job in government or to run it precisely because they are against a functioning national government. It is only from inside government that they can dismantle it as they want to. If they are not in Congress or the White House they cannot promote the legislation that will destroy the government. If they are not heads of departments they cannot implement programs in ways that say “See, the government doesn’t work. We told you and we have to ‘reform’ the programs”. From the outside they can only complain. From the inside they can destroy things. See Katrina and New Orleans, Paul Ryan’s budget plans, Bush II tax cuts for the wealthy, etc.

  26. 26
    Linnaeus says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    This would be a plutarchy or maybe an oligarchy, right?

    Barack and Michelle are obviously not part of the right people, the Occupy participants aren’t the right people, union members and labor activists aren’t the right people, etc.

    Precisely.

  27. 27
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    Republicans are increasingly inclined to argue that any redistribution (and Social Security, Medicare, student loans, veterans benefits and food stamps are all redistributive) is but a step down the road to some radically egalitarian dystopia.

    Ayn Rands prediction that the 1% would eventually stay home and not create any ‘jobs’ came true, only through their proxies the Tea Party and Republicans in Congress.

    They have spent their ammo. They are down to throwing rocks like the atavistic troglodytes they are. Their devolution is nearly complete and modern Science may have found the Missing Link, aka Sasquatch, and they have been hiding in plain sight.

  28. 28

    This “Statement From A Ron Paul Staffer” is bizarre. Ron Paul is absolutely NOT against Hispanics! He just despises it when Spanish is spoken near him!

    He’s categorically NOT anti-Semitic! He just despises the existence of Israel and is categorically anti-Israeli!

    He’s not homophobic, he’s just uncomfortable around homosexuals! He won’t use a gay person’s bathroom, and he won’t shake a gay man’s hand. But really, no different from many other people in America!!

    Sheesh.

  29. 29
    Cacti says:

    There’s nothing so Republican as a privileged scion like Mitt Romney lecturing people about “entitlement”.

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Egalitarianism is BAD!

    Death to the author of the Declaration of Independence!

    We want to revert to feudalism!

    That’s the message of maggots like OvenMitt.

  31. 31
    max says:

    What it does is leave President Obama as the classic conservative in the race, fighting to defend the advances in social welfare and the safety net made over the last three generations.

    I had that thought a week or two ago. And in point of fact, I think Obama could make a very good case that he will be the true heir of Ronald Reagan in the case. (I don’t mean the liberal caricature, or the biographical hagiography, or the Village-style shorthand for lower deficits Reagan, or the Norquist’s beatified ‘real conservative’ and not the boilerplate Reagan of the 70’s, and not the campaign Reagan, but the Reagan we actually got on the ground (for good or ill), particularly the one that didn’t think it was such a hot plan to blow up the world, and the one who signed onto various tax increases. And also, minus the Alzheimer’s. The guy who did some dumb crap because he was a conservative but who also was sensible and cautious, particularly compared to (other) Republicans, and who signed onto tax increases and whatnot.). Obviously, this is not the greatest record in the world (I didn’t support the guy at the time, FYI) for a Democrat, but it beats the shit out of either Bush and substantial parts of post-1994 Clinton. Further, this term was not the greatest time to take up deficit reduction and sucking up to the banks. Still worlds better (as a *conservative* record) than anything the Confederate Party has gotten up to or supported. (For example, I don’t see anything Obama did with the car maker bailout as being any different from bailing out Chrysler early on and going after the Japanese for dumping near the end of Reagan’s term.)

    Of course, Obama has intentionally positioned himself to co-opt Reagan all along what with being from Illinois and a well off person and whatnot (and I think, in fact, that that was not really the best way to go in operational terms). And it has worked. In fact, it’s been a cakewalk, which is probably why it’s been irresistible to constantly (re)position himself along those lines – he’s being sucked into the roaring vacuum where the Republican party used to be, before it morphed.

    The downsides are obvious here, but I will give O credit for succeeding at the larger political game, particularly for the successful defense against a Congress on the country-destroying offensive. (Which is important – holding off the nuts trying to blowup the country and getting reelected to prevent said nuts from getting their hands on the wheel is really quite important in this environment.)

    max
    [‘Conservative, centrist or liberal, it still would’ve been better to nationalize the banks and not reappoint Bernanke though. Not to mention doing healthcare first and not energy and infrastructure and science was a missequencing. But the guy did land in the middle of a five front war on the first day on the job and ain’t nobody perfect. Oh, well, too late now.’]

  32. 32

    @Southern Beale:

    He’s not homophobic, he’s just uncomfortable around homosexuals! He won’t use a gay person’s bathroom, and he won’t shake a gay man’s hand.

    Really? Wow, I didn’t know this.

    Bisexual! Bisexual! Bisexual!

    Come out, come out Ron Paul wherever you are!

    [Actually, that explains some stuff.]

  33. 33
    RalfW says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    The Republicans, on the other hand, are pushing a very radical agenda. They are pushing for disunion and perhaps a federation.

    I think this is true, but curiously, I don’t think they’re doing it out of any articulate policy thrust. They’ve just driven the clown car towards this ditch and can’t turn.

    Their lack of intellectual ability and utter disregard for consequences is very dangerous.

  34. 34
    Citizen_X says:

    @Schlemizel:

    what sort of morons hire a CEO who believes the company is evil and should not exist?

    Ring, ring. Hello, Bain Capital?

  35. 35
    Benjamin Franklin says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Sacha Baron Cohen flim-flammed him on ‘Bruno’, got him in his hotel room and……well…it must be seen.

  36. 36

    @RalfW:

    I agree. They just don’t realize the logical outcome of their proposed actions.

    Sort of like a guy with a very unhappy wife who is Shocked! Shocked I tell you! when she files for divorce.

  37. 37

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Yes. Some of the old guard GOP have a plan of sorts, some connection to policies and results. The GOP voting base are just angry and scared. They don’t care about issues, they don’t care about principles, they don’t care about results. Talk to them, discuss facts or the issues they say they care about, and you hit a brick wall of angry ranting.

    Because that’s it. They’re angry. Their political position is ‘lashing out at the world’. Obama’s positions are conventionally liberal, he’s the face they’ve been told to point their anger at, so they attack whatever they think he supports. There is no rhyme or reason to it other than lizard brain anger.

  38. 38
    sherparick says:

    If you watch the Murdoch channels, (Faux News and Faux Business News) and listen to conservative talk radio, the agenda of abolishing the New Deal and repealing 100 hundred years of conservation and Environmental legislation has always been big on the “Freedom” agenda that they push and is being God’s work. To some extent this is just entertainment to feed the resentment machine.

  39. 39
    flounder says:

    I had a real fun conversation with a person who I work with: a drilling helper, lives in N. Idaho, high-school dropout, social conservative yet divorced…votes Republican based on socioeconomic, ethnic, etc. grievances. Exactly the sort of person that the “why should someone else mooch off foodstamps?” argument is meant to work on.
    He was complaining about having to pay California taxes because we were on a job in California, and then he started bragging about how much of a tax break he got because of his 4 kids. I called him a Socialist for getting a handout that someone like myself didn’t get, and he flashed this flash of physical anger, and started denying that he got any sort of special deal. We had a fun back and forth for a few minutes until I backed off because I thought he was going to get physical.
    I don’t know if it accomplished anything, but it couldn’t hurt to have these sorts of confrontations.

  40. 40
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Linda Featheringill: no Obama is not a conservative. And i wish retards like Sully and Dionne would stfu about that.
    Conservatism is maintenence of the status quo as risk management.
    Conservatism is standing athwart history yelling stop.
    Conservatism is executing the same fail strategy again and again because it worked one time, or because it works “in theory”.

    Obama is a liberal pragmatist.

  41. 41

    @Southern Beale:

    No doubt he will soon be named Human of the Year by The Human Fund.

  42. 42
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Linnaeus:

    We’re seeing increasingly that the Republican vision for the United States is a neofeudalConfederate one. Corporate CEOs take the place of the old feudal baronsplanter aristocracy, the professional managers are the reeves and baliffsoverseers, and the remainder are the new serfsservants.

    FTFY.

  43. 43
    DFH no.6 says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    I agree with you that Obama is a liberal pragmatist (which I find a redundant term, since modern liberalism is essentially pragmatic, but I get why you used it).

    But, if conservatism is partially, as you also say, “maintenance of the status quo as risk management” (and I think it is, or at least used to be) then Obama can certainly be called “conservative”, too.

    Most especially in his handling of The Thing that almost killed us all (the financial system catastrophe).

    Which is, I think, the main reason the firebaggers (and many in the Occupy movement) dislike and oppose him so much.

    Oh, and Romney is still going to be the fascist nominee, more’s the pity (just had to get that in).

Comments are closed.