There’s an air of non-partisanship in the U.S., especially by the press, so-called intellectuals, skeptics, etc. It’s not cool to be passionate about politics, and it’s even worse to suggest that one party is better or worse than another; “they’re both flawed, everyone’s at fault, the two parties are equally responsible for the mess in Washington,” we tell ourselves.
And it’s understandable. We don’t have to offend anyone if that’s our belief, and it gives us a perfect excuse to stay disengaged politically: to not speak out, not volunteer, not even vote.
But it’s wrong. As comforting as it is to say these things—as cool and as easy as it is to be non-partisan—it’s wrong. Not only that, but it’s harmful. Politics isn’t a disease we can avoid by staying away from those infected, nor does it cease to exist if we pretend it isn’t there. Political outcomes affect our lives, whether we like it or not. Whether we care or not.
And there’s a simple fact that everyone—the press included—ought to understand: the Democratic Party (or the Democrat Party if you prefer to be an asshole) is capable of governing, and the Republican Party is not. Now, keep in mind, I’m not saying the Democratic Party is the best thing ever, or that we should agree with everything they do, or that they never make mistakes—none of that is true. What I am saying is that the Democrats, as a party, are able to do the things necessary to govern this country, while the Republicans (the party of “no”), are not.
What do we need from the people who govern this country? I’d argue that an effective politician needs to have three basic qualities: A) an accurate and realistic assessment of the problems/issues important to one’s citizens; B) the ability to compromise and/or find win-win solutions to those problems; and C) integrity—being consistent as a matter of philosophy, fairness, etc. This includes the ability to change directions when wrong and to admit when one makes a mistake.
Let’s look at the first component. What are the main problems facing us today as a nation?
1) government debt and spending,
2) taxes and tax fairness,
4) wealth and income inequality,
5) an aging and inadequate infrastructure,
6) climate change,
7) student debt and the high cost of college, and
8) improving our system of education.
Now to go through each and every point would take some time, but that’s OK, because the Republican Party doesn’t recognize four through seven as being problems. We could go over the other issues point by point (I will in the future), but the fact that the Republican Party doesn’t acknowledge HALF of the major problems we face as a nation would seem to disqualify them from being able to govern this country. It’d be like asking your doctor to save you from a cancer she doesn’t think exists.
On point B, not much needs to be said: Republicans don’t compromise. Remember the government shutdown? That was an attempt by the GOP to force Obama to trash his own health care bill. More proof? Democrats have offered cuts to Social Security and Medicare, have been willing to cut Food Stamps in order to pass the farm bill, and have said they’d trade budget cuts for closing a few tax loopholes for the wealthy and large corporations—which Romney campaigned on. But has anything been done? Nope. Republicans aren’t even willing to make a deal to allow the 40 million Americans with over $1 trillion in student loans to refinance at lower rates.
The most appalling example is the stalled immigration bill. Republicans actually DID pass one on a bi-partisan basis out of the Senate. YAY! However, House Republicans won’t bring it up for a vote, even though the bill would pass if they did. This, despite the Republican Party’s OWN post-mortem recognition that they lost in 2012 because they didn’t reach out to Hispanic voters. Why? Because the Republican Party doesn’t compromise. PERIOD.
As for the last requirement—integrity—it’s quite clear: Republicans don’t have any. Consider their basic positions on guns and abortions. They don’t want any restrictions on guns, whatsoever, even universal background checks: Senate Republicans filibustered the vote on that shortly after Sandy Hook. However, when it comes to abortion, the opposite is true. At the local, state, and federal level, Republicans have passed hundreds of bills limiting and restricting abortion—type it in to the google machine and you’ll see. OK, so what does this have to do with integrity?
Life. If Republicans really valued life, as they say when restricting and/or trying to ban abortion, you would think they’d be horrified by the level of gun violence in this nation. Not so. Because whenever and wherever Democrats try to pass laws to regulate firearms, from clip size to background checks, Republicans—backed by the NRA—block, or attempt to block that legislation. So they don’t really value life; they’re just using hot button issues to fool people into voting GOP.
Oh but there’s more. Most Republicans believe that our nation should have Christian values, and use Christianity in general to justify their beliefs—especially their political beliefs. But do they help the poor, as Christ teaches? No. They horrify them. Since Obama’s re-election, they’ve cut Food Stamps and denied people who lost their jobs unemployment insurance. Worse, 24 states have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA (Obamacare). Why? For most, it’s because they have a Republican governor—the rest have a Republican legislature that won’t allow the Democratic governor to put it in play. That means, quite literally, that poor people are dying because Republicans don’t like Obamacare. Is that very Christ-like?
Finally, Republicans lie, spin, and mislead people: ALL THE TIME. Type “Republican lies” into Google, and it’ll register over 16 million results. Do the same with “Democrat”, and you get less than 8 million. Indeed, Republicans have made politics so messy that there are entire operations like Media Matters and Politifact that now exist to ferret out the truth. In point of fact, a recent study of Politifact found that Republican statements “were rated ‘mostly false’, ‘false’ or ‘pants on fire’” 52% of the time, while only 24% of Democratic claims fell in those categories. Hell, Republicans, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, LIED US INTO A FUCKING WAR!
Thus, on all three components of governing, Republicans fail. They don’t recognize or care about half of the major problems we face as a nation, they don’t compromise, and they don’t have any integrity. Simply put, the same cannot be said of Democrats; we might not like all of their plans on the problems our nation faces, we might not like it when they compromise sometimes, and they’re by no means perfect—there are plenty of examples of Democrats who’ve run afoul of the law or said things that mislead people. But they can govern. They can get shit done. Republicans can’t.
So let’s please stop this nonsense about how both parties are at fault or are somehow equal. It’s not true: Republicans can’t even govern, which is, after all, what we have politicians for in the first place. The more GOP we have in government, the less gets done, and the further we fall behind the rest of the civilized world.