Walter Rhett

Pie Crumbs

In National Affairs on October 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm

The image of a chain smoking political leader handing out tobacco lobby checks on the House floor ranks with the search in Arizona for headless bodies. This union between the big business interests and political leaders and shrills has deep American roots. The rich have always pursued preemptive political strikes. Before the American Revolution, the public interests advanced by New York’s Alexander Hamilton aided his economic interests and clashed with the better goals of the general welfare. Before the 1861 war, wealthly and powerful autocratic Southerners controlled the nation’s political institutions. Southerners dominated the Presidency, served as Speakers in the House, and dominated the political debate. States right then, small government now; deregulation in both instances, and massive special benefits for the rich and for business. Falsely promising government austerity will deliver private prosperity. Wrapping their interests in the flag as the protection and advancement of freedom and personal liberty. Challenging curbs on persons and institutions as dangerous acts against freedom. Arguing in his words, that “slavery is good,” one of the most prominent politicians of that day, South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun appealed, “All we want is concert, to lay aside all party differences and unite with zeal and energy in repelling approaching dangers.” Sounds harmless, but it hid great a greater danger, deeper violations of freedom, and pandered in pretense to a wholly unethical narrow interest.

John Boehner actions are counter-intuitive chutzpah. He rebels against values that have always been at the heart of the American alliance. He and the Republicans make that clear. They oppose health care, fair taxes for the wealthy (who they see as small business persons and whose 700 billion payment by the top 3% to reduce the deficit will stifle a fragile economy rather invigorate it). They want to raid and dismantle social security (declared unconstitutional by Joe Miller of Alaska, a state that hands out annual government oil royalty checks to every resident)). Like Calhoun, an ideological forefather, they grow more popular the further removed from reason and a more perfect union they are.

Money sanctions this trend. Small government? Bush shipped billions on shrink-wrapped pallets overseas. Massive giveaways in tax cuts (as commenter Jumper says, free lunch for the rich), no bid contracts. Jobs? Checks from lobbyists. Furthering personal freedom? The right to die poor, out of work, and uninsured. Outside of the mountain west, which Republican district or state has grown jobs? Boehner and the others are better at blame than governing.

Money validates their new found fury. And for those who deeply believe that money controls both parties, that Congress is dysfunctional, that there really is only a one party system, and no difference between the two parties: ask yourself which side supports women’s rights, civil rights, health care, fair taxes, equal pay, reduction in nuclear arms, renewable energy, and how come Republican states with Republican law makers still can’t balance their budgets? The party of fiscal responsibility has been fiscally unreliable, except for reaching into the cookie jar while the rest of us get the crumbs.


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