Nick Kristoff offers some apt comparisons that demonstrate how much Republican policy resembles the way the most corrupt countries on our planet are run:
I spend a fair amount of time reporting in developing countries, from Congo to Colombia. They’re typically characterized by minimal taxes, high levels of inequality, free-wheeling businesses and high military expenditures. Any of that ring a bell?
In Latin American, African or Asian countries, I sometimes see shiny tanks and fighter aircraft — but schools that have trouble paying teachers. Sound familiar?
Developing countries often find themselves in a bit of a bind when it comes to these issues. Their governments are eager to stimulate economic development, and the vast income inequalities they commonly face make them more susceptible than usual to the suggestions of the wealthy. Sure, common sense suggests that if everyone in your country makes a decent amount of money, the economy will flourish because you have all these people who can buy stuff. But getting them to that point looks awfully hard compared to just throwing your lot in with the guys who are already on top.
In some cases, that’s giving these governments too much credit, but my point is that even well-meaning governments of third-world countries can find themselves trapped. There’s certainly no reason to assume that the government of any given African country is less well-meaning than the government of the United States, which some exceptions.
And the reason not to assume that is because the US government has absolutely no excuse for the levels of poverty and income inequality that exists within its borders, but allows it anyway. And it’s the Republican Party that primarily wants to continue down that road, with its attempts to dismantle Medicare, its refusal to even attempt to stimulate job growth, and its resistance to regulation. Does transforming the US into a poverty-ridden third world country sound like an America-loving, patriotic thing to do?
Kristoff refers to the most highly inequitable societies as “quasi-feudal, stratified by social class, held back by a limited sense of common purpose.” That’s exactly the kind of society that conservatives and libertarians envision for America. A “sense of common purpose” was something the founders of our country tried very hard to build upon and wield – it was a sense of common purpose that led the American colonies to unite and overthrow British rule.
The Founding Fathers (I’ve been trying to avoid the gendered term, but our cultural mythos are unfortunately male-centric) get enough blowjobs, and I’m not trying to give them more. My intent is to point out the discrepancy between the goals of the founders that the GOP claims to cherish, and the goals of the GOP itself. The GOP has done everything in its power to demolish any sense of common purpose that might have once been inherent in American society.
In part, this is the inevitable result of all that talk of individualism and self-reliance that the GOP peddles. But it’s not like it’s some unintended consequence – it’s fully intended. Because by eliminating the idea of common purpose, conservatives have succeeded in convincing a large percentage of Americans that the wealthy shouldn’t be expected to contribute anything to the operation or welfare of our country. The end of this road is scary:
You can tell the extreme cases by the hum of diesel generators at night. Instead of paying taxes for a reliable electrical grid, each wealthy family installs its own powerful generator to run the lights and air-conditioning. It’s noisy and stinks, but at least you don’t have to pay for the poor.
I’ve always made fun of these countries, but now I see echoes of that pattern of privatization of public services in America. Police budgets are being cut, but the wealthy take refuge in gated communities with private security guards. Their children are spared the impact of budget cuts at public schools and state universities because they attend private institutions.
Mass transit is underfinanced; after all, Mercedes-Benzes and private jets are much more practical, no? And maybe the most striking push for reversal of historical trends is the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare as a universal health care program for the elderly.
As Kristoff indicates, this is a reality that many people around the world are already living in. It would hardly be any worse if Americans had to live in it as well (although obviously no better, either), but the fact that this is what Republicans are actively trying to make America into really puts the lie to their claims of patriotism and loving America.