I watched the Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida last week and wasn’t surprised by anything except for Clint Eastwood’s unsuccessful and confusing performance, which left me feeling very sad since I have great respect for him as an artist. (Actually, I quoted Mr. Eastwood in an earlier blog post.) I didn’t have any of my questions concerning the Republican Platform answered either. The Republican message was, in reference to the economy, “Everything is Obama’s fault” and Romney has a plan to fix everything . . . even though he seems loathe to discuss the details of his inscrutable secret knowledge. The Romney campaign is inexcusably opaque about a lot of things and veil their answers in banalities and platitudes. They love to use intimating and insinuating language. They take statements made by their opponents out of context and twist the meaning, for example, “You Didn’t Build That!” They seem incapable of answering any question asked them directly and in detail! They re-direct the questions to the issues they want to discuss in the manner in which they want to discuss them. This is done to distort reality creating a “Romney-Reality” aimed at placating his far-right constituents who don’t really trust him. What is worse is that, when caught and confronted, the Romney team never correct their misleading or downright wrong statements because they believe more people will hear their version of reality and will not hear any trustworthy fact-checking in subsequent commentary. I am one among many who are tired of being treated like we’re ignorant idiots with the attention span of 30 seconds. Consequently, it is not terribly surprising that the Romney campaign did not experience a “bounce” in the polls after the convention.
Why do you keep accusing Obama falsely of drastically cutting Medicare by 700 billion dollars to fund Obamacare? Why do you keep saying that your “voucher-care” is so much better than Medicare for seniors when in truth it will create $6,400.00 in additional costs for them? President Obama never took an “Apology Tour.” His journeys to twenty countries in the early part of his presidency and his incredible “cultural fluency” helped us move from being little respected internationally to great respectability. He has never “thrown Israel under the bus.” Obama has never raised taxes on the middle class, but you plan to do so. Why not disclose your taxes, Mr. Romney? How can you possibly balance the Federal budget without increasing taxes on the rich? Why are you re-demonizing Russia into a “cold war enemy”? Why are you rattling your saber about Iran? Haven’t we had enough un-paid-for wars, two of which almost destroyed our economy!? Why do you want to strip women of their hard-won rights to make their own medical decisions?
It seems to be OK that women participate in decision making in business and the government. However, they are incapable, according to you, of making decisions that effect their personal lives and, consequently, the government must regulate their health care for them! What!? I thought you believed in reducing the role of government?! The Romney-Ryan team supports the Blunt-Rubio amendment, which would let employers make decisions about which women’s health services they wanted to cover. You want to get rid of the Federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Ryan voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Law. Romney won’t definitively say if he supports it. President Obama supports the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act but Romney, again, won’t make a statement one way or the other. The Republicans support outlawing abortion even in the cases of rape and incest. I am not for abortion, but I also believe that individuals (women and men equally) must follow their informed conscience. Moral decisions are intensely personal, are meant to be difficult, and the informed and exercised human conscience in inviolable.
Why does Mr. Romney want to dismantle the humane “safety net” for those in need; a policy which stands in direct opposition to the rich history of the generosity of the American people? Why does the Republican Party want to march directly “Backwards”? I believe the Republican Platform blatantly displays their battle plans against all progressive ideals fought for and won in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Their backward looking policies are what should be discussed and debated in detail. Those upcoming debates between the candidates should not be “fact-free,” which seems to so popular today, but “fact-filled,” thereby treating the American public with respect.
The endless and vacuous battle of the TV campaign ads is another expression of the lack of real content in the campaign. We are sitting around and analyzing the media tactics and media presentation of these ads instead of the content of the policies. I noticed that James Lipton of the TV show “ The Actor’s Studio” has been employed by MSNBC as a commentator on the “performances” of the candidates! I believe we should be much more concerned about the details of policies and political platforms than about “performance.” The important issues of the day dwell in reality, not in movie-land. The Obama ads are more informative, I am glad to say, but, in general, I do hate campaign ads because of their superficiality and their horrendous expense. I wish they would go away permanently! This should be the first campaign reform.
The message of the Republican Convention was that all we need to do is trust Mitt Romney because he is a nice guy, rich, and successful as a CEO. The only problem with that message is that the Presidency requires more than the skill of a business CEO. The Presidency is the epitome of our belief in “public service” made up “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The “bottom line” is not the financial bottom line. Ethically, the “bottom line” is people and their human rights. I am just as upset about the Federal deficit as anyone is, but we must deal with it realistically without destroying the “safety net.” People and Life come first. The defense of Life should not only focus on the un-born, but must cherish and defend all phases of human Life. The following quote is from Cardinal Bernardin who was the Archbishop of Cincinnati and Chicago:
If one contends, as we do, that the right of every foetus to be born should be protected by civil law and supported by civil consensus, then our moral, political, and economic responsibilities do not stop at the moment of birth. Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us; the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker. Such a quality of life posture translates into specific political and economic positions on tax policy, employment generation, welfare policy, nutrition and feeding programs, and health care.
Consistency means we cannot have it both ways. We cannot urge a compassionate society and vigorous public policy to protect the rights of the unborn and then argue that compassion and significant public programs on behalf of the needy undermine the moral fibre of the society or are beyond the proper scope of governmental responsibly.”
What are the Republicans hiding behind their vague language? They are touting the same old policies they have been touting for 30 years. Their policies are made up of exhausted ideas that point back to the last century! Their economic message is the old “trickle down” ideology, “trickle down snake-oil” as President Obama has called it recently, which we have all lived through. We realize from experience that “trickle down” just doesn’t work.
Our economy must develop from the “bottom up” and from the “middle out.” A strong middle class is the secret of success for all of us; even for the extremely wealthy. This is how our economy, our free capitalist system, actually started, with the ability of “poor” pioneers to have access to the procession of land and property rights, and, due to the industrial revolution, access to reasonable and available business principles. Entrepreneurism thrived! Human invention and creativity thrived! The American economy “trickled up” and was mobile. However, one of its limitations was its dependency on the Gold Standard which lead to recessions and depressions almost every decade in the 19th century. Ironically, one of the “new” Republican ideas is to return to the old Gold Standard! Our economy is more stable on the wide base of all the people rather than balancing on the point of a pin; 1% of the extremely wealthy. A few good governmental regulations can guarantee a level playing field and fairness.
President Obama has referred to the Republican emphasis on the rich as a “Social Darwinism.” Let the unsuccessful fall off the vine. Let the weak fail. It is inevitable; the survival of the financial fittest and the failure of the poor. Elsewhere in my blog, I have written about the philosophy of Ayn Rand, see “Utopian Dreams: Ayn Rand, John Calvin, & the Conservative Right,” https://letthejourneysbegin.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/utopian-dreams-ayn-rand-john-calvin-the-conservative-right/. Rand’s extreme ultra-capitalism, known as Objectivism, which defends the idea of “ethical selfishness,” fits well into the image of “Social Darwinism.” Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan has often expressed his great admiration of Ayn Rand up until he recently in April disowned her for the sake of political expedience! None-the-less, in 2005, Ryan gave a speech to the “Atlas Society” saying “”I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.” He also said that “the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.”
In Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged the 1% downtrodden, the “ethically selfish” industrialists are lead on a strike by John Galt, and the rest of the world and everyone in it could go to blazes, in an economic apocalypse, when they did. Rand was a militant atheist who turned Biblical values upside-down: selfishness is moral, greed is good, and compassion and mercy are evil. Is it any wonder that many Roman Catholic leaders have denounced the philosophy of Ayn Rand as antithetical to Catholic social teachings? On April 16th the American Bishops denounced the budget of Paul Ryan since it drastically reduces food assistance to the needy and slashes the “safety net” such as the Medicare program. And, for the record, I doubt that Mr. Ryan, even if he has truly denounced Ayn Rand, has ever read Thomas Aquinas, who he also claims as a profound influence on his life! Aha! Here it is, more flip flopping. Mr. Ryan must be taking lessons from Mr. Romney on flip-floppy-ness! They should both be reminded that Jesus said that the poor shall inherit the Kingdom of God and woe to the rich for they have received their consolation (Luke 6-20-26). Both the Old and New Testaments abound with examples of God, the defender of the poor. Ayn Rand’s influence on Ryan is but another example of how un-though-out the policies of the Republicans are! There are too many inconsistencies and hurtful consequences.
The philosophical division here is one of whether a person believes in people or doesn’t believe in people. These two philosophies are worlds apart. The Republicans believe in only a few select people and want to concentrate power in them. I realize that we fought the American Revolution to free ourselves from excessive taxes without representation, but, we also fought the war to rid ourselves of aristocracy and oligarchy. I am so proud of our democracy, which has striven to guarantee the representation of everyone; our democracy, which is the longest-lived democracy in the world. I don’t want us to devolve down or “backward” into an oligarchy. Why in the world would anyone covet an aristocracy or oligarchy now in the 21st century?! I believe that everyone should seek for fulfillment, not just a select few.
In his recent stump speeches, President Obama has expressed his belief in the people, 100% of the people, by proclaiming, “Don’t push people to the side!” “Hear every voice!” “Harness every talent!” “We are better together than alone!” He has challenged people to be the new pioneers, to seek their new horizons. He is counting on the people and not the elite powerful entrenched in the status quo. He calls us all to believe in ourselves and pursue our personal visions of happiness. His vision of the American character is devoid of cynicism, fear, and apathy. Obama himself embodies the belief that “anything is possible.” People can make a difference. Fairness can flourish. The future is bright.
President Obama does have the better path that is forward looking. He is the one who has cut taxes for middle class families. He will not raise taxes on people who earn lower than $250,000.00 dollars per year. He will not undo the financial regulations that have buttressed Wall Street and saved us from experiencing another devastating Great Depression. His support of the automobile industry proves his support of American workers. He is focusing on bringing jobs back to America . . . focusing on “Made in America.” President Obama wants to strengthen American education, especially in the fields of math and science, to prepare our young people for future jobs in a highly competitive world. The College Tax Credit helps families with young people in school to save money. The President has an over-all energy policy which emphasizes wind and solar power and he wants to stop exorbitant tax breaks to oil companies. The Affordable Health Care Act is cutting costs and is covering more and more people. This is a law that will help everyone. President Obama will craft a fair immigration law. He has begun by protecting the children of immigrants born in this country.
Obama wants to open the doors of opportunity for as many people as possible. It seems to me that the Romney-Ryan campaign wants to throw up walls. Let us move forward with the Obama-Biden team to finish what has been started.