Friday, July 15, 2011

Anarchist Wing of the Republican Party

Ann Coulter and Chris Hayes, editor of the Nation magazine, were guests on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last week. Hayes mentioned that his mother was a government employee, and Coulter said, “She’s a drain on society.” Coulter and fellow guest and British author Amanda Foreman went on to say that government employees contribute nothing to society and in fact just suck from those who do:
MAHER: We want you to know that. Your mother is a drain on…

COULTER: Well, you asked.

HAYES: Ann Coulter thinks you’re a drain on society.

FOREMAN: What Ann means, she’s not a revenue producer. She’s not a revenue producer.

COULTER: Right. She’s a revenue taker.

FOREMAN: No, she’s gainfully employed, but she’s not a revenue producer.

COULTER: No, it's worse than not having a job, having a government job, because you have somebody doing something nobody wants, taxpayers pay for it, and they can never get rid of them.
Amazingly, (and typically for a liberal) Hayes just sat there and allowed this slander of government (and his mother) to stand.

[Transcript is from a conservative blog, you can see his take on this exchange here.]

The rejection of large government is perhaps the most defining element of the right-wing, but pre-Ronald Reagan Republicans were moderate, even liberal by today’s standards, in their approach to governing. For example, during Eisenhower’s administration the U.S. built the interstate highway system, and Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency.

Then came Reagan and his famous anti-government aphorisms, for example, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language? I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” In the last thirty years we’ve seen an acceleration of this anti-government attitude, and it seems to have gone into overdrive since Barack Obama’s election as president.

Random House Dictionary (through defines “anarchism” as: “a doctrine urging the abolition of government or governmental restraint as the indispensable condition for full social and political liberty.”

Wikipedia defines anarchism as “a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy.”

This sounds exactly like what the Republican Party is advocating today. The conservative position is that government does nothing right. Government regulations create “uncertainty” and impose undue burdens on business, thus all regulations should be removed. Regulatory agencies like the EPA and the SEC should be abolished. Social programs like Social Security and Medicare should be privatized.

Anarchism is usually associated with the radical left-wing; the anti-capitalist protestors in Seattle at the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999 for example. But a funny thing about ideologies and philosophies is that when extremists go far enough they meet fanatics of the opposite camp—the sphere of the mind is curved, like space, and if you go far enough left or right you end up in the same place.

Republican politicians like Michelle Bachmann are saying that a default of the U.S. government wouldn’t be a big deal. These people seem to be actually relishing the thought of the government crumbling. Timothy Egan has an op-ed in today’s New York Times making the same observation, envisioning the Republican Party split between two wings: the Anarchists and the Tasseled Loafers.

With this step, what the chaos caucus has proven is that they have no interest in governing. They didn’t go to Washington to find solutions; they went there to destroy the place. Based on [House Speaker John] Boehner’s math, the anarchists make up perhaps 25 percent of the G.O.P. House. At the other end of party control are the moneyed interests who’ve long bankrolled Republicans. They’re happy, of course, that their favored politicians are willing to go to the brink of catastrophe to keep even the most egregious tax loopholes from being closed. But now they’re getting scared, as the anarchist wing indicates it is serious about bringing the whole government down — and with it a lot of private money.
What about all the things that government does for all of us individually and collectively? What about police and the judicial system? Would you want to do without that? How about firemen? Do you remember the case last year when a Tennessee fire department watched a man’s house burn down because he hadn’t paid the local $75 fire fee? Many right-wingers, including Glenn Beck, gloated at the news because they thought this event represented a triumph of the free market.

What about municipal water and sewage? Enron’s next scheme—if they hadn’t imploded in 2001—was to privatize water in this country. To see how this has worked out in a few poor countries in the world, watch the documentary “Flow.”

How about public health and investment in basic scientific research? The increase in Americans’ lifespan in the last 100 years (from an average of 45 to 75 years) is mostly due to public health measures like clean water and sanitation, not medical advances.

What about public schools and universities? The backbone of a democracy is an educated populace. Do we want a society where only the rich get an education?

What about roads? Parks? The list goes on.

This is the time for liberals to speak up and ask the American people what kind of country they want to live in.

The right-wing is advocating a Hobbesian world of conflict and competition; a new Gilded Age where capitalism is unleashed to exploit the weak and the poor.

Liberals advocate a world in which the blunt and brutal hand of capitalism is softened through regulation and social programs.

The American people have shown over and over again in polls that they like the programs liberals advocate. When will the Left in this country learn how to explain to the populace that the liberals represent the interests of the people, while the Right represents the interests of the plutocrats?

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