In the course of our national discourse, it is always a hard sell to look a fellow citizen in the eye and accuse him of being a traitor; especially when it’s no open-and-shut case of treachery, such as espionage on behalf of a foreign entity. A compatriot who feverishly holds and defends a view one finds so abhorrent does not so negate his patriotism credentials by simply exercising his civil and democratic right. After all, it is the foundation on which the republic was built. As a result, there is always that dicey, inevitable morality question that arises when one then unilaterally labels an opposing view or persons unpatriotic; because one believes it or them corrosive and destructive to national interest.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly what I will be doing in this piece.
No one has the whole truth about everything and anything at any one time, human life is just too complex for such a simplistic assumption. Thus, a society that will prosper does so by constantly taking the temperature of all the parts that make up its sum. In other words, taking bits and pieces from here and there in crafting public policy – a little from the right, a little from the left, so the ensuing graft reflects the rainbow present in society and not just some monochromatic pie. For only then can a nation be centered, stable, and able to readily combat the many challenges life poses; a nation lopsidedly postured manifestly fails at such challenges.
This lesson was well demonstrated by the Founding Fathers of the republic, who at so many times differed on how a young republic should proceed and offered dissimilar views on what the heart and soul of America should be. But as evidenced by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, compromise is what begets a progressive and purposeful nation.
And yet, according to a recent Gallup poll, 20 percent of Americans find compromise an inexcusable form of weakness. And it is this 20 percent that the Republican Party now represents, damning the remaining 80 percent of Americans. Which, without doubt, must come as a surprise to the many Independents who voted for Republicans in the Midterm Elections of 2010; giving them control of the House of Representatives via the Tea Party Express.
In this past fall, Republicans had touted themselves as custodians of the nation’s economy and berated the big government agenda of the Democratic leadership, which passed one stimulus package after the other with little dent in the lives of millions of jobless and under-paid Americans. “Government needs to be on a workout regime and get lean,” was the mantra of the Republican caucus. It was told over and again; Republicans were just the right public servants to bring fiscal discipline to a house run amok and stymie the runaway national deficit in its tracks.
After the elections, the already heated national conversation about dollars and cents went into overdrive; not necessarily in the way you will imagine (that is, about creating jobs and all) but more so toward “deficit hawkishness”; which, if you were a hawk, purportedly showcased you as a hardcore patriot. We were ostensibly now in the business of nickel-and-diming government. And God bless the soul that dared steer the national consciousness from the subject.
As evidenced by the debate to extend the Bush tax cuts last December, and the recently concluded budget battle for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, Democrats found themselves repeatedly capitulating to a Republican caucus bent on slashing one government program after the other.
The verdict was in; somehow the political elite had managed to convince themselves and the media that the national deficit was our utmost concern. Okay, that’s all good and dandy: Now, we can all agree on one thing and get the ball rolling. But just in case you haven’t been following my flow so far, here it is once again: Hitherto, to be a deficit hawk is now chic.
Although he strongly discouraged Congress from attaching any deficit talks to his request to raise the national debt ceiling, which currently stands at $14.2 trillion; President Obama soon got notice from Republicans in Congress that this was yet another “Christmas wish” of his that wasn’t going to be coming true. And maybe so as not to look irresponsible in an ever-hawkish world (or maybe he now truly believes the deficit is too dreadful a monster), the President acquiesced to Republicans’ effort to attach deficit talks to raising the debt limit.
“Let’s do it,” he said in his news conference of the other day. According to reports, proposing up to $4 trillion in cuts to the national deficit over a span of 10 years; and placing sacred Democratic cows like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on the table for butcher.
But wait, the Republican caucus suddenly finds itself in the deer lights. This is not how the script goes: they were supposed to argue, growl, and fight for up to $4 trillion in national deficit as they did during the budget talks, and Mr. Obama’s part was to buck them all the way – not buy an ownership stake in the talks; at best, he was supposed to be a minority owner! Now, the hunter has become the hunted; the president was taking away the “Custodian of Economy” title from them, and this is so untenable.
But thank God for the Tea Party, as it has shown, if everything else fails, there’s always demagoguery. And so, this Republican Party decides ideology will be the turf on which the battle is fought. All the talk of cutting government to size by any means necessary now seem a ruse from the very start. Republicans were never serious, as the conflict between rhetoric and action now clearly shows. Republicans came to a fork in the road and took the road oft travelled; the road being greed and self-preservation. Political expediency no longer sojourned with national interest, and they’d be damned if the former suffers.
Republicans’ abject refusal to have constructive dialogue in dealing with the debt crisis and forestalling a looming default reeks to high heavens of unadulterated egocentricity. Plugging tax loopholes that favor millionaires and billionaires is so sacrilegious that some in the party would rather the nation default on its debt than saddle millionaires and billionaires with additional pennies in taxes.
How can we seek a stable and centered state if the Right, Republicans, believe they have all the answers to our present economic quagmire and no other fixture on the spectrum counts. No one has the whole truth at any one time, yet, the Republican Party believes it has all the answers to this fiscal crisis, and nowhere in that manual is a provision for tax increase on folks who can best afford them. The United States has never defaulted on its debt, but these Republican patriots are readily willing to find out what happens if it does.
Significant efforts have been made by this president – had the present negotiations been so lopsided that Mr. Obama gave no grounds, Republicans would have an argument that shames any attempt at opposition. But with a ratio of $3 of spending cut for every $1 in tax hike, the Republican Party has never had it so good in bleeding such drastic concessions from a Democratic president.
I believe come August 2nd, there still will be no deal due to the many elements in the Republican Party who deem inflexibility a desirable trait, coupled with the president’s refusal to sign any short-term deal. As a result, Mr. Obama will have to unilaterally bypass Congressional authorization on the debt limit, since the 14th Amendment expressly states “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” And such action by the president, then made necessary, is a sheer condemnation of ideologues who seek to hijack government.
No reasonable person will fault a Republican member of Congress for being principled and having ideals – a man must stand for something, otherwise, he falls for everything and anything. But the desertion of reason in the search for the ideal becomes the problem here. To be so recalcitrant as to not give faithful negotiations a chance in the face of pending national crisis is by all means unreasonable, irresponsible, and an act of disservice to the nation. An act unpatriotic to its core.