Completely Wrong-headed Obstructionist, Socially Irresponsible GOP is
For those who are still interested in reading, learning, and maybe even
Obama needs to realize the truth about [most] Republicans: "Their loyalty is to a fundamentalist Christian ideology, on the one hand, and American exceptionalism of perpetual warfare and hatred and fear of the 'other' on the other hand. Between the neoconservatives and evangelical Religious Right Republicans you have no friends."
--Frank Schaeffer (see below)
Blinded by Greed, Oblivious to Need:
How Socially Irresponsible Republicans are Killing America
By Dennis Rahkonen
Feb 12 2009
Most of us aren't old enough to remember the Great Depression.
But "The Grapes of Wrath," stark photographs of pathetically poor folk with life's spark absent from their eyes, and Dust Bowl accounts somberly related by Grandpa have given us grim insight into how hard times were for so many back then.
The elders of my family talked about it often while I was growing up.
What I recall most vividly from those retellings is the contemptuous sneering over Republican President Herbert Hoover's response to the staggering calamity unleashed after Wall Street's 1929 crash.
The impoverished masses were expected to sell apples on street corners to survive!
Under left-wing leadership, the American people angrily rejected such absurdity, mustering sufficient militancy to force FDR's enactment of the broadly beneficial New Deal. They also organized the great industrial unions that gave ordinary citizens the means to attain prosperity and protection on a nationwide scale.
Ever since, conservative Republicans have reached deeply into their rotting bag of depravity to constantly come up with increasingly more selfish schemes to try to undo whatever gains workers have won through necessary, arduous struggle.
One particularly vile effort was "Reaganomics," so destructively thrust upon us during the awful '80s.
Prior to that period, the only poverty I'd ever experienced was in the early '60s, when Eastern mining companies abruptly quit Upper Michigan's once-booming Gogebic Iron Range. Everyone was suddenly jobless, Dad included.
We received welfare assistance for several months, manifested most notably by cans of Kennedy-era USDA mystery meat on Mom's pantry shelves. Our local economy eventually rebounded, but not soon enough to erase my lingering memory of that meat's "unique" taste.
The Reagan recession, though, was much harsher. It affected many millions more.
What's worse, it was deliberately contrived, to break the back of union power and thereby transfer American societal wealth to corporate/financial coffers to a degree that made storied sea piracy seem ethical and paltry in comparison.
Members of my extended family and I were unemployed for an excruciatingly long while. The same could be said for most everyone we knew. Packages of generic macaroni and cheese were supermarket shoppers' first pick, and easily half the passengers on our city buses were down-and-out souls either going to or coming from selling their blood plasma, out of desperate need.
Meanwhile, this country's upper crust -- the primary Republican constituency -- flourished like a fattening pig.
Huge tax breaks for the wealthy, coupled with deregulation of all institutions having direct bearing on the quality of our lives, and our very safety, became the American norm.
Most of us finally went back to work, but at jobs that generally paid much less than those we'd held earlier. Former auto makers became hamburger flippers at fast-food joints.
Rapacious class warfare conducted against America's wage-earning majority -- an open plunder thinly disguised by "trickle down" balderdash -- became thoroughly institutionalized.
Along with all this came the rapid growth of deep, ultimately insoluble contradictions that, in the final quarter of 2008, would make a very compelling case for Karl Marx's famous quote that "capitalists are their own gravediggers."
The entire system collapsed, most spectacularly in its finance sector, but chiefly because American labor had been exploited for so long that workers could no longer afford to buy back what they themselves produced. "Consumer confidence" understandably eroded, and store shelves gathered dust in the uneasy months before their final going-out-of business sales.
Giving Marx credit again where it's definitely due, here is the long-predicted "overproduction crisis" for which private-profit capitalism simply has no solution.
Into this impending catastrophe came Barack Obama, a decent man with ultimate loyalties lying with the common people, by whose status he knows that America's societal health must be measured. Not by how flush and plush things might be with a tiny, superrich minority.
So Obama and the Democrats sought to advance a "stimulus package" to "jump-start" the failing economy.
Never mind that it was too little, too late, or that probably nothing can be done, now, to slow our greased-skid slide to disaster.
Republicans resisted this good-faith effort with all the typical, pro-plutocracy nonsense they could shamefully muster. They wanted even more tax advantages and subsidies for business interests, coupled with demands for less regulation, forgetting that the Bernie Madoff rip-off and the current peanut-butter salmonella scare are two salient examples of deregulation's abject bankruptcy.
Cancer-stricken Ted Kennedy had to return to Washington, since his vote was needed by the Democrats to prevent a Republican senatorial filibuster.
All this completely wrong-headed obstructionism occurred as the unemployment rate soared to record levels and mass hardship was becoming epidemic. Elkhart, Indiana will soon be Everytown, USA.
It happened shortly after one of our community's television stations ran a sobering piece on area homelessness, featuring a man who lived in a scrap-built shelter in the woods, when the wind chill routinely exceeded 30 below!
Where is the "Christianity" of those who greedily devote all their efforts to preserving their privileged, luxurious status, derived by a parasitic sucking of working-class lifeblood?
What manner of "human" can see profit and suffering before him, know that relentless pursuit of the former inevitably causes the latter, and still blithely seek more profit, at the painful expense of public welfare and the common good?
Before our sofas and televisions become evicted furniture out on the sidewalks, we need to rise from our torpor and fight back, like our forebears did in the Rebel '30s, using exactly the same tactics.
Get mad as hell. Unite, organize.
This is our country, and we can't allow traitors loyal only to The Almighty Dollar to destroy America.
Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the Sixties.