I've spent the past several days cruising the internet and visiting a number of conservative websites and blogs to try to get a handle on just why some of our fellow citizens have clung to the Republican Party despite recent events. What I've most often found is that there is still a belief - misplaced, in my opinion - that the Republican Party is the party of fiscal conservatism and of less government involvement in our lives. Except for some who cling to far right relgious beliefs, few are as socially conservative as Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin would have you believe - although there are some.
In 1981, when Reagan took office, the federal debt was about $700 billion. in 1988, it was over $2 trillion. After Bush, it was over $4 trillion. Bill Clinton not only managed to pay down some of the Reagan debt, he actually balanced the budget. So when the Republican Party and its adherents claim to be "fiscally conservative," there's a disconnect between what they say and what they do.
Sure, the debt has increased even more during the 10 months Obama has been in office, but remember, much of what is costing us money is a hangover from the Bush II Administration. Something had to be done, and that "something" actually started late last year, during the waning days of the Bush Administration, with the bailouts of banks and automakers.
After 10 months in office, the most memorable thing George W. Bush had done was ignore a memo that Al Quaeda was planning an air strike against the US, and start a war in Afghanistan, ostensibly to capture Osama bin Laden. Instead, four months later, he invaded Iraq.
How much do you think that cost?
So, the Republican fiscal conservatism claim is a bit shaky, I think.
Let's reflect on the Republican claim to smaller government, and keeping government out of our lives.
If Republicans really want smaller government, let's start by keeping government out of our bedrooms and off of our bodies. Up until four years ago, 27 states had laws prohibiting sodomy. (That includes oral sex, folks.) Today, we still fight the battle for the rights of LGBT men and women to be full participants in the American Dream. We forbid them to marry, we penalize them in the tax code (because they can't marry), some places deny them the right to adopt children, and cases abound where child custody was awarded to a "straight" parent because the other parent was gay or Lesbian.
Now we have a passed a health care "reform" bill in the House that invades women's bodies even further. Not only does the Stupak-Pitts Amendment forbid government money being used for an abortion, it also forbids anyone who receives any kind of Federal subsidy from purchasing insurance with their own money to cover abortion - this, despite the fact that access to abortion has been guaranteed by the Supreme Court! So a legal medical procedure is now unavailable to all but the wealthy. How much more intimately involved in our lives can government get? And what woman would want to buy an "abortion rider"? Those who plan to get pregnant just so they can abort, I guess. Forget those who are victims of rape, incest, whose lives are in danger, or whose fetuses are hopelessly deformed!
If that weren't insult enough, Republican Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX) has compared being a woman to being a smoker, thus justifying higher health care premiums for women. Frankly, I think his mother should charge him retroactive rent, plus interest, for the time he took up in her uterus, with added charges for stretch marks, incontinence, and for growing up to be an idiot.
And today, Dick Army came out from under his rock to say Americans who eat like a pig and get diabetes "don't deserve" insurance coverage.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who last week proclaimed loudly and for all to hear that she was organizing the "Tea Party" march on the House last week, the next day insisted she really hadn't organized it, that it was a "grass roots" event. This, despite the fact that she told people to be sure to attend while appearing on Fox "News."
This is the Republican Party today. It's a party that in recent years has had no compunction about trying to move the US further to the right, claiming "family values," and that we are a Christian nation. Now that their tactics have cost them both Congress and the White House, they're crying foul.
The voters have rejected Republican fiscal and social mores, for the most part. If the Party continues to allow itself to led around by the nose by the likes of Limbaugh, Palin, Bachmann, Boehner, and company, it will either cease to exist or become a third party. If that happens, it will be a sad day for a party that attracted the likes of Dwight Eisenhower, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and even Susan B. Anthony.
I daresay none of them would even recognize it as their party in 2009.
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