Among the reasons that I think about transforming myself into a better Republican is the simplicity of the party’s appeal. Democrats believe that all big issues, things like health care and taxes and war and trade and education and immigration, are so complex that they give the smartest people a migraine. All that thinking gives rise to arguments, years of wrangling over legislation, endless head scratching, delay after delay, and compromise solutions in which no one wins completely. That’s way too complicated for most of us.
Republicans, on the other hand, operate from one simple principle supported by unanimous party agreement. Their idea: use government power to make rich people much richer and ignore all else. Since money is power, that worked for Louis XIV, George III, every dictator who ever held office, and every politician who relies on plutocrats’ contributions to keep his job; it has the added value that it allows the party to focus on a much smaller group of easily identified clients. To sell this approach, Republicans invented the concept of “trickle down.” Give all the money to rich people, they claim, and they will spend it in ways that allow the middle class and the poor to survive on the fallout. Since many Republicans lead evidence-free lives, this bogus claim has been elevated to the status of accepted mythology since it rose to dominance in the 1980’s. Today it stands as the central – and only – organizing theory of the ruling political party.
Lest you are tempted to join in my conversion but are concerned that Republican philosophy can’t possibly be that simple, allow me to illustrate. First, let’s dissect the inheritance tax. If you have more than five million in your bank account ($11 million if you have a spouse) when you ascend or descend into wherever, the government will demand that you pay 17 percent of the excess in taxes. Alleging that they are the saviors of the family farm (there are 50 affected farms in the U.S.), the president and all Republican legislators have vowed to do away with this tax.
Then there’s the Wealth Care Bill (facetiously known as the “Health Care Bill”). It proposes to return 800 billion hard–earned dollars to the 5 percent of us who earn more than $200,000 ($250,000 if married) annually, most of whom are Republican contributors. Is that an example of your hard-working Republican Party toiling on your behalf?
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Now let’s direct our attention to the $2 trillion or more that is hidden away by the wealthy in foreign banks. Was it mandated by God that they not pay income or corporate taxes on that mega fortune, or by the Republican Party? By giving their constituents – and some Democrats as well – this hyper exemption, Republicans assured themselves of a tsunami of campaign cash in every election season. Is there a theme beginning to emerge here?
So I challenge you to pinpoint a single piece of Republican legislation that, at its roots, is not an effort to channel more wealth to the already wealthy or to amassing power that leads to that result. By focusing on a single idea, Republicans avoid complex issues of what the American people or the American nation need in order to move forward. They reduce all political conversations to a single formula that even the most unreflective among them can memorize.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.