The Disintegration Of The Republican Party
I have lived thru the administrations of 12 presidents – born during the latter part of the Truman era, barely aware of the Eisenhower years, fully conscious during the Kennedy tenure and affected by his assassination as was the rest of the country. I have also struggled through the Johnson years, the Civil Rights movement and the disastrous Vietnam war. I experienced the Nixon debacle of Watergate and the proceedings that forced his resignation by the Republican leaders who told him either go or face impeachment and conviction. I was also angered by Gerald Ford, the first non elected president, who pardoned Nixon just one month after taking office. I was encouraged by Jimmy Carter’s negotiations that resulted in the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel which changed the landscape of the Middle East along with the accusations that he acted more as a secretary of state then a president. I witnessed Ronald Reagan and his theory of trickle-down (voodo) economics; H.W. Bush and his diplomatic success to rally the world in the Gulf war and Bill Clinton during his economic surplus effect and his impeachment trial. I was also around for the presidency of George W. Bush and his utter failure to use 9/11 as an effective means to rally world support for a global strategy against terrorism; and finally I supported the election of the first Black president. Therefore I consider myself qualified to comment on the current political stalemate and vitriolic relationship between President Obama and the Congress that continues to threaten to drag the US and the rest of the world into a global economic chaos.
I have additionally read the US constitution and its amendments numerous times and understand the structure between the three branches of government as envisioned by the founding fathers to put in place the checks and balances needed to create a democratic society based on the power bestowed to the government by the people – quite different from the European model of monarchies where power emanated from the rulers down to the people which was so evident for centuries in the rest of the world. This is why the United States is unique, not for its attainments, but for its ideals.
This country was conceived as an experiment to expand and develop the ideals of democratic principles inspired by the French Revolution modeled after the British legal system as the basis for American law and yet never in its history have I seen this country succomb to the grips of the current quagmire of vitriolic animosity exhibited by the relationship between Congress and President Obama. Although there have been difficulties in past administrations, nothing has even come close to the current clash between the executive and legislative branches of government, except perhaps The Civil War. This conflict is so different than anything in the past, that it requires a more comprehensive analysis in search of the reasons why this fracture in the fabric of American Politics has developed, especially since it’s occurring during the administration of the first Black president. It can’t be attributed to the usual philosophical differences between the Democratic and Republican parties, or the Affordable Care Act.
President Obama has faced five years of strong opposition by the Republican Party who declared soon after his election that they would do everything possible to make sure he was a one-term president. This declaration was the first indication that they never intended to compromise on anything. Every economic deadline became one major crisis and nudged me to question what led to this unique impasse. My conclusion is that there still exists an underlying current of racism, especially within the Republican party (and the fanatical Tea Party) who have attempted to destroy the legacy of our first Black president.
From the start of his run for office, his citizenship has continuously been questioned. On the other hand his Caucasian roots have also caused some sectors in the Black community to argue that he is “too white” to be considered Black. No president has ever faced this kind of scrutiny. Fringe groups have seized every opportunity to raise countless doubts about the legitimacy of his presidency from the first day he was sworn into office.
The Republican party is no longer the noble party of Abraham Lincoln. It has been hijacked first by the conservative religious right who has taken every opportunity to destroy the moderate and liberal wing of the party that is so essential to maintain the political balance of a healthy two-party system. Now the Tea Party – a wing even more extreme than the conservative right – has adopted a no compromise stance, threatening to fracture the Republican party, making it impossible to build any consensus for compromise with the Democrats. The people have become hostage of this radical group that is so rigid in its philosophy that it has threatened to destroy any possibility for the government to function.
The Speaker of the House – who I refuse to mention by name because I hold him in utter contempt as so incompetent and castrated – has proven so inept at controlling the Republican majority, that the office of Speaker of The House has been bastardized by his impotence, so much so that the only way out is for him to resign in disgrace after his failure to control his own caucus. I also blame the American electorate for being so ignorant about anything beyond their own local or regional interests rather than the interests of the country as a whole. In addition, gerrymandering by the House, redistricting the congressional districts to include an overwhelming Republican majority, did nothing but insure their re-election to the House, further guaranteeing that the Republican party will maintain control and dispense of more gridlock.
Now to the central issue that is the Affordable Care Act. Every Democratic president since Harry Truman has tried to pass some kind of universal health care. It is unthinkable that a country so rich and powerful continually rejects every attempt to provide affordable healthcare to over 50 million of its citizens, especially children. This has become a moral issue that something better than a compromise needs to be implemented to supply affordable healthcare to all its citizens. The one who came closest was Richard Nixon, a Republican who supported the concept of the HMO. HIP on the East Coast and Kaiser on the West Coast were the first generation of HMO’s that held some promise to provide healthcare to those who had none and needed it the most. However, as the movement grew, they were not as successful as Medicare. Ultimately they behaved exactly as private for-profit organizations that competed for patients. For a period of time, they seemed to hold some promise, but there was no adequate federal monitoring to insure that patients who had preexisting conditions would be accepted, and it was not good for shareholders fortunes. They arbitrarily dropped patients when medical care became too expensive and there were so many loopholes that the HMO’s imploded and lost their mandate to provide the necessary coverage to those who needed it most. They failed miserably.
The pharmaceutical companies are also to blame. As private enterprises, they owed their allegiances to their stockholders, not the public. They spent so much money on TV advertising that it turned into a major scandal in the sense that their ultimate aim was to get patients to pressure their doctors to prescribe the products advertised when generic medications were just as effective. The companies claimed that the advertisements were “patient education,” just a bunch of bullshit propaganda to get the public to swallow their pitch. They lobbied both parties to monopolize their costs, making those medications so prohibitive that they were out of the reach of those who needed them most. They successfully lobbied and used patents’ exclusivity shield that granted them a 20+ year monopoly before anything cheaper could even come to market. When the patients on Medicare went north of the border to purchase the same medications at much cheaper prices, George W. Bush, claiming that the efficacy of Canadian medications were less than those made in America, he authorized a bill making it illegal to purchase those Canadian medications even though many of those drugs were made by US companies and exported to Canada. Anyone who has traveled to Canada knows that their medications and health care is in many aspects much better than in the US. For example, regarding prenatal care or preventive medicine, American pharmaceuticals exported the same used drugs at a far cheaper price than what they sold in our pharmacies.. In the end, Americans were forced to purchase their medications at a premium cost, effectively eliminating competition and padding the pockets of the very American companies with allegiances only to their stockholders, not the general public.
Mitt Romney, in his campaign as the Republican presidential nominee, and then recently, reiterated that “everyone in the country has access to medical care. Those with no coverage can go to the ER.” Anyone who works in the ER, as I have, knows that it is a cesspool of undiagnosed diseases spreading illnesses to all other patients waiting to be seen by a doctor. Mr. Romney not only exhibited his glaring ignorance on how to deal with the healthcare crisis, but also his utter stupidity. The ER should be used for emergencies, not for treating ear infections or bronchitis.
The Republicans have spread so much propaganda about how The Affordable Care Act – let’s call it by its pejorative moniker: Obamacare – will be a burden on businesses and industries and have shown how little they care for the fundamental moral principle that it is inexcusable in this day and age to allow fifty million citizens to suffer without some form of affordable health care.
The Affordable Care Act was never intended to be perfect. Just as the majority of other laws enacted, it needs constant re-evaluation and revision to improve its effectiveness but to find reasons to repeal it and return to a failed system of supplying basic medical services to those uninsured is not only immoral, it is criminal.
The Republican party continues to use the national debt to resist any attempt to revise the medical care system, claiming businesses would be injured, yet somewhere lost in this philosophy is the moral responsibility to offer any solutions of its own to resolve the problem.
Now that the Republican party is fractured and threatens the legitimacy and purpose of the two-party system – to ensure balance – this will likely throw the American political system into chaos, dragging the world economy down with it.