Richardt Stormsgaard: Present political rancor
December 26, 2017
The Union's editor Brian Hamilton wrote an admirable and well-formulated op-ed about the divided state of our society, in effect blaming extremists on each side equally.
Quite a few other writers have commented positively on his article while suggesting we all sit down and talk nicely to the other side.
The problem with this view is that right-wing extremists have taken over the Republican Party for the last couple of decades while the extremists on the left have very little influence on over-all Democratic policy. The current Democratic Party platforms are quite similar to those of the Republican Party half a century ago. They are principles and programs that most Americans expect to have available as citizens in a civilized, democratic and free society, and so do most Republican voters.
The Republican Party platforms previously included improving our social safety net, protecting social security, providing asylum for refugees, raising the minimum wage, improving the unemployment benefit system so it covers more people, strengthening labor laws so workers can more easily join a union, assuring equal pay for equal work regardless of sex, and providing federal assistance to low-income communities, just to mention a few.
They are principles and programs that most Americans expect to have available as citizens in a civilized, democratic and free society, and so do most Republican voters.
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Today's radical Republican Party is committed to curtail and eventually entirely abandon all of these laudable principles. Twenty eight Republican senators believe the minimum wage should be abolished so people have the "freedom" to work for nothing. Health insurance should be for those that can afford to pay whatever the for-profit health insurance companies demand, and if you are unfortunate enough to become ill or have an accident you can expect to lose everything, often becoming homeless. Our public Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security systems developed by progressives from both parties beginning many decades ago should be dissolved and private health insurance and pension systems for US individuals turned over to Wall Street operators. With the Tea Party/Trump Republican Party in power the fiduciary rule will certainly be abandoned for good so no need for financial advisers to worry about the pesky legal requirement to have the best interests of their clients in mind when handling their money.
A majority of Republican voters still believe there should be affordable health insurance available for everybody, and want to protect medicare, medicaid, and social security, clean air and water regulations, along investments in our infrastructure. Yet they vote election after election for the party that today is committed to weakening, even obliterating our social safety net and deconstructing our administrative state, in effect trashing the protections both parties have established for the last 150 years for the welfare of average citizens against the potential excesses of the strong and the powerful.
When Reagan Democrats and Southern Democrats began voting Republican the American working class had a standard of living envied by the rest of the world. Lured by the blatant lie of trickle-down-economics they placed their economic fates in the hands of corporate/conservative interests. As a direct result of increasing corporate power the US economy stalled, even regressed, for most groups. In many countries around the world most citizens now have better opportunities, incomes, and life quality than in the U.S.
The Republican Party is presently passing huge tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy. This tax scam, shamelessly labeled a "reform", recommends cutting medicare by $473 billion and medicaid by $1 trillion while giving the super wealthy a $1.5 trillion tax cut, and adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt.
Our huge national debt is not a problem to right-wing Republicans when it will give them an excuse to further decimate Social Security, Medicare, and necessary investments in infrastructure in the future, as Marco Rubio recently bragged.
This has been the Republican pattern for decades now. Severely damaging the interests of average Americans and our public infrastructure with huge tax-cuts for the very wealthy, increasing corporate welfare and unnecessary wars while cutting and disrupting most programs that benefit average Americans.
Richardt Stormsgaard lives in Nevada City.