This is what movement conservatism has wrought…
Yes, Virginia, this is the time to be partisan
As I’ve watched the 24 hour news coverage of the corona-virus outbreaks, I’ve grown angrier and angrier at a Republican Party totally oblivious to the drama around their constituents. The cluster that occurred at some airports this weekend as thousands of American citizens traveling, studying, or working in Europe tried to catch the last flight home (with 48 hours notice) was the mirror opposite of my own experience. Four airports inside of a week, all operating at what I estimated to be 30% capacity. Shops and restaurants in the terminals closed because it would cost more to keep them open. Flights half empty or cancelled. Massive downsizing already announced right before the travel industry started asking for “help from the federal government.”
You’d almost forget that these same companies received a huge tax cut (trillion dollars over 10 years) 2 years ago with promises of expansion.
Don’t misunderstand – thousands of American companies are doing the right thing. My own employer transitioned its employees to a universal work from home model to reduce the chance of contagion. We are a global organization, but the corona virus hit a bit too close to home. A colleague’s wife was in China when the Wuhan outbreak made international news, her husband worrying 24×7 about how to get her home. She caught one of the last flights leaving China bound for American and then self-quarantined for 2 weeks. Our office in Kirkland, Washington was the first to move to a work from home model after that area burst into the news as a hotspot. Fortunately, so far no one tested positive.
We all need to prepare for a recession. After 11 years of growth after the financial crisis of 2008-09, it was bound to happen. That’s just the nature of capitalism. But we have never seen anything like this – at least not in my lifetime. SARS, N1H1, and MERS were impactful for sure, but they were isolated and contained in the United States. Do you remember the market crash after America’s first MERS death? How about SARS? Of course you don’t. It did not happen. Our federal government had the outbreaks under control. Our president at the time did not lie to the American people, nor expunge the agency and experts tasked with managing global pandemics.
This will happen when you put the public sector in the cross hairs
I’ve spent several years trying to understand movement conservatism and its hold on the Republican Party. I looked for theoretical reasons for the ideology of small government, low taxes, maximum freedom. I’ve even read parts of Barry Goldwater’s Conscious of a Conservative, the original Bible of the right. I wanted to discover the academic and thought leaders’ rationale for denigrating public service and dismantling of the social safety net. I thought that surely it was rooted in the age of reason – the Enlightment – and a natural byproduct of the left-right dichotomy.
It’s not there. At least, this version of conservatism and iteration of the GOP is not based on anything scientific or academic. It’s based on greed. I’ve hesitated in calling out this truth because I did not think that it benefited the body politic. Plus, who cares what I think anyway? But it’s time. It’s time to call a spade a spade and start placing blame where it should placed.
For 40 years, the Republican Party has blasted the government as “the problem” to all social ills. The government inhibited freedom – conservatives’ most precious commodity, or at least that was the public creed. Gun control was eschewed in favor of a massive weapons industry desiring even greater return to their stockholders. “Poverty” was a result of individual action (if you were poor, you didn’t work hard enough) and not systemic racism or elite greed. Slashes to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, welfare, and food stamps followed because social programs inhibited one’s desire to enter the marketplace. Why should the government pay people to sit at home?
This will happen when you cover elite greed with “the others,” race, and evil Democrat Socialists.
There is an entire media and think tank apparatus, funded by billions of elite money, set up to brainwash us into believing this hogwash and to justify systemic racism and the growing inequality. Taxes are a form of theft! Democrats support illegal “aliens” because they want the voters. The moral response to poverty is to strip the poor of food stamps and health care as social programs dis-incent the value of “work.” Finally, the opposition is evil and that they want to destroy the country. The radical left will bring the apocalypse.
This pandemic is just the beginning
It’s impossible to determine what specific irresponsible act resulted in the shit show America is currently enduring. Was it Donald Trump’s narcissism and fear of political blow back in an election year that forced officials to down-play the need for more testing? Was it John Bolton’s decision to gut an Obama-era national security agency, set up to study and plan for just this type of pandemic? Is it the fault of an administration with a single goal: fealty to the president?
Any one of these acts explain the disaster unfolding in front of our eyes. Whether you believe that the media is over-hyping the threat (it isn’t) or that it’s really a Democrat hoax meant to take down the president (it’s not), is irrelevant at this point. Trump’s base – the Republican base – will be as affected as the rest of us. And of course, this is the time to come together as a unified force against an invisible enemy. We’re all in this together – and we all have to sacrifice for the betterment of us all.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences. In this country, we take our anger to the voting booth. All across this country, Republicans will be asking for your vote; their message being that the Democrats will lead the country to socialism, that your 401k will disappear, and forced abortions will be done in clinics around the corner. Armageddon. That’s what the Democrats will bring.
Meanwhile, their opponents – my party and my ideology – will ask that they be allowed to lead. Democrats will campaign on a desire to govern and to use the powers of the government to implement policies that benefit the masses. Social programs, including Obamacare will require money so yes, taxes will go up. Government will continue to be active, but under Democratic leadership, it’s activism will benefit those other than the well-off. But perhaps most important, Democrats will ask you for the privilege of serving the public. They will ask you to put them in charge of stemming off a climate-crisis. They will ask you to allow Democrats to build back the agencies destroyed under this administration and to re-engage with the world. And they’ll probably ask you to compromise on putting 11 million undocumented immigrants (not aliens) on the path to citizenship.
Even if we get lucky and avoid the worst of the pandemic, more disasters will come. You cannot de-construct the administrative state without consequences – consequences that affect the majority of Americans. The next administration – if it’s Democratic – will have to reassemble the bureaucracy (not an evil word & not the deep state) to make it function again. Congress will have to pass laws to prevent this level of ineptitude from ever rising to the top echelon of power again. And they will have to root out the corruption that this President has wrought.
So yes, this is the time to be partisan and the time to point fingers. Hold your leaders accountable and observe them as we go through this health crisis. Ask yourself – up & down the ballot – what ideology is best poised to address American’s real concerns, those kitchen table issues we keep talking about? Progressivism. Progressives are best positioned to lead us out of this nightmare we call an administration. Progressives – the Democratic Party – knows how to govern and considers public service a responsibility of leadership.
It’s a no-brainer for me and I hope not for you. If preventing a pandemic is socialist, then I guess I’m a socialist. If believing that everyone should be able to see a doctor for preventive care is a socialist idea, then call me a socialist. If ridding the body public of the scourge movement conservatism has wrought is socialist, then call me a socialist.
Call me whatever you like. I’m angry. Really angry. And I hope you are too.