Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Social Darwinism Alive and Well in the Republican Party

I am having a really hard time finding anything positive to say about the Republican Party I once loved and actively supported. The far right's unwillingness to engage in meaningful debate and compromise is not consistent with the philosophy of our Founders, the group supposedly at the nexus of Tea Party thinking. Time after time, whether it is their reading of so-called "original intent" or their belief in governance, Ted Cruz and his brethren take advantage of an ignorant populace by claiming a virtue that is non-existent. But their duplicity extends beyond their understanding of what republican government is- they would fit more comfortably in a parliamentary system- and infects their approach to motivating people to succeed.

When it comes to the rich, the far right believes that public policy should be liberating, removing any regulatory obstacles so that they have an unfettered ability to achieve personal wealth and gain. If you make life easier, they will work harder. But when it comes to the poor, their approach is just the opposite, that we need to make life more and more difficult for them. It is by confronting these mounting obstacles that they will endeavor to persevere, work harder and harder, and thus achieve personal gain.

This approach to the poor is reminiscent of good ol' Social Darwinism and the belief that people are poor because of some innate character flaw they must overcome. This notion that the rich are rich because they are "better people" is perverted and wrong. At the most fundamental level this way of thinking not only denies the existence of real barriers to upward mobility, but also denies the "luck of the draw," that children have no choice what type of socioeconomic strata they are born into, no choice of whom their parents are, and no choice where they live. That is a lot to deny, and the far right is very good at living in denial.

If far right Republicans truly have an interest in appealing to a broader population, and the evidence is actually that they don't, that they prefer a smaller party populated by older, whiter people, then they should at the very least be consistent. Unless, of course, I am correct in my understanding of how they view rich and poor. And if that's the case, then it is time to come clean and be honest about how they truly feel. The Republican Party is fast becoming little more than an interest group rather than a political party, and that is a dangerous development for our democracy. We need, at the very least, two strong parties. I'm afraid that as the far right is sabotaging its own Party, it is sabotaging our democracy as well. If that's the case, we are all about to pay the price for their actions.

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