Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Monday, April 2, 2012

Right, Left, Right, Left

Just help yourself...

E.J. Dionne took some flack from the Left because of his tepid acceptance of the Catholic hierarchy's attack on contraception.  But he's still a pretty good columnist when he's not genuflecting towards the fossils who run Rome.

Here he lays out the central dynamic of the last 30 years.  This is a dynamic that in many ways has been beaten to death on the Blogosphere.  In it, the basic idea is that of the "Overton Window" of acceptable discourse.  That there are only a limited spectrum of ideas that are possible within a given political context.  For instance, opening an embassy in Iran and lifting sanctions on the Iranian government is simply not within the "window" of possibilities when dealing with that country.

What the Right has done has been to drag the country not just to the Right but to the Extreme Right.  There is nothing conservative about today's Republican Party.  The proper term is reactionary.

If the reactionary judges on the Supreme Court prevail over the conservative judges (Kennedy and maybe Roberts), then the court will have dragged American constitutional law BACK to before the New Deal, just like they did with Citizen's United.

If the reactionaries in Congress win control of the Senate and White House, then we will roll back the government at before the Great Society and probably much of the New Deal.  I was struck by the quote from Robert Taft - archconservative of the 1950s - about the role of government.

“If the free enterprise system does not do its best to prevent hardship and poverty,” the Ohio Republican senator said in a 1945 speech, “it will find itself superseded by a less progressive system which does.” He urged Congress to “undertake to put a floor under essential things, to give all a minimum standard of decent living, and to all children a fair opportunity to get a start in life.”

What Republican can you imagine saying that today?  And Taft was the spokeman of the party's conservative wing.

Conservatism basically understand the world in terms of change.  Their attitude towards change is: "Best leave well enough alone."  Suspicions about the ability of people to make significant and positive changes means that you should only change things when absolutely necessary, and if possible those changes should be slow and gradual.

In this light, ACA is a conservative piece of legislation.  Health care delivery is broken in this country.  It must be changed.  ACA attempts to change it gradually and without overthrowing the current system in favor of single payer.  But to the reactionaries in the GOP, it's not enough to get rid of ACA, they want to get rid of Medicare as a single payer, guaranteed system.  They would privatize Social Security if they could.  Repeal or essentially defund all laws for minimum wages, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, environmental and worker safety protections... You name it.

The current GOP as typified by Paul Ryan is a revolutionary reactionary force in American politics.  And right now they control the party that controls the House.

If they control the entire government, we are all so seriously screwed that I fear for the future of the country.

And I don't think I'm being melodramatic about that.

Ronald Reagan - it has been noted - was too liberal for today's GOP.  But until America really wakes up to this fact, we're going to continue to get a dysfunctional government whose only agenda is to funnel wealth upwards to the top 1%.

UPDATE: This is another good example of how far to the right the GOP has gone.

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