The question mark in the title is mine and it comes from what happened yesterday in the US House of Representatives (Rep. Liz Cheney was removed from her post as Republican Chair by her fellow Republican Congresspeople due to the fact that she refuses to perpetuate ‘The Big Lie’ that the presidential election was stolen). Today editorials have been posted saying the Republican Party is effectively dead and is now just a personality cult for the former president.
But that got me thinking something else: do we really need a two-party system when one party simply says ‘no’ to any legislation that does not involve a tax cut for the wealthy or more weapons for the military when they’re not needed (or even wanted)? And isn’t our government set up as a system of checks-and-balances with the three branches (Legislative, Executive, Judicial)? But then how many people can name all three branches of the federal government and what they do?
Growing up, I was raised to believe a two-party system kept one party from running wild and trashing everything to hell. But as I look back just on the last one hundred years of American history, I’m not really seeing that. Republicans held the White House in the 1920’s and we got the Great Depression as a result of that. Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt was elected in 1932 and enacted the most ambitious recovery plan in American history (so far) to not just repair the damage caused by the Roaring Twenties, but to do it in a way that didn’t build up a war machine like Nazi Germany.
And to some amazement, that New Deal legislation shifted to war-time that enabled the United States to fight a two-front war and help rebuild destroyed Europe and Asia. In the 1950’s, the economy did roar under a Republican president but it was to build up the ‘military industrial complex’ as President Eisenhower later said with what I believe was regret. In the 1960’s, President Johnson began The Great Society, a continuation of New Deal-type legislation but he made the mistake of listening to Robert McNamara and his boys about Vietnam and that was the end of that. Then we had a paranoid maniac in the White House (Nixon), his enabler (Ford), and just four years of a good man (Carter).
But by 1980, it was too late. Since then, we’ve had trickle-down economics on steroids, two wars charged to a credit card to be paid off by future generations, and a political party which has now turned into a cult of personality around one person and offers no substantial policy that isn’t paid for by taxes on an already overburdened population. Instead, this party embraces lies, insurrections, white supremacy, conspiracy theories, and death itself.
So at this point in time, I’m just not seeing anything other than that from the Republican Party here in America. I’m not seeing anything from them about building back better, about helping lift people out of poverty, especially children. They had four years controlling both Congress and the White House to make their case and they failed. They failed and their failure led to over half a million people dying in a pandemic, and the closest this country ever came to having a coup on January 6, 2021. Since then, all I’ve seen are lies, and counter legislation funded by taxes on people who don’t need to be taxed anymore.
I know the proposals for the American Jobs plan are ambitious and large. And in response to how they will be paid for, the IRS recently revealed they had an answer: according to their calculations there is over $7 trillion in tax revenue that has gone uncollected from corporations and individuals who have evaded and abused the tax system. Yes, that was trillion with a ‘t’. That number even surprised me but there it is.
To me, the Republican Party is not the party of Abraham Lincoln. It is the party of greed, white supremacy, and suffering. So their relevancy right now is in serious questioning, and it’s all on them.
Conservative ideology is by definition narrow and rigid in its’ thinking. Everything has a place and there is little mobility. If a person wants to live that way, that’s their right and I’ll defend it. But in my opinion, they don’t have the right to limit someone else’s mobility, or make people suffer for their own comfort.
This is not easy for me to write as it’s not easy to see what I’ve been taught was an important value being destroyed right in front of my eyes. But maybe that important value was nothing but an illusion, designed to protect one group and their privilege above all else. Maybe there is a better way, and maybe the impossible can become the possible, and the future.
I believe the most important value is alleviating human suffering as much as possible by helping and creating a better life for all people, by lifting people out of poverty and pain, out of sadness and despair, and by giving hope. And right now, I don’t see that from the Republican Party at all. And I honestly wonder if I ever will, or if we will create a system that doesn’t protect privilege at the expense of a better future for all people.