Saturday, February 19, 2011

They've Gone Too Far

Governor Walker's decision to effectively and legally remove all unionizing and bargaining power from the workers of his state wasn't a call to war against Americans and our ability to effectively use political measures to challenge a selfishly entrenched establishment. It's simply the final straw in a war that was already underway. Conservative judges are speciously and dishonestly challenging the premise that healthcare reform is constitutional. Conservative legislators are mounting a concerted attack on women by giving doctors the authority to let women die over giving them an abortion in emergency situations, defunding Planned Parenthood - which gives a plethora of uncontroversial services which saves the lives of the millions of women without threatening them with bankruptcy - and a failed attempt to redefine rape so that pregnant women would be forced to have their rapists child. Conservative executives/governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rick Scott are slashing any and all funding that relates to our livelihood, job security, job/economic growth and our ability to politically contest them and the world watching every second of it. We're watching every second of it. And what we're seeing is the last trace of blood being drained from America's progressive advances from a party with absolutely no mandate to do it.

They didn't think to inform us of their intents when they were campaigning. They didn't think to tell us before they started doing mass-budget slashes in the middle of union busting that electing them was the embrace of a false choice between serfdom or starvation. They just assume that philosophical principle and a single election cycle gave them carte blanche to overturn nearly a century of labor precedent while eradicating the only non-labor alternatives we have to maintain a survivable standard of living. This is an unconscionable, unjustifiable overreach and it's as disgusting as it is concerted. I understand that elections have consequences, and as a political loser in the previous election during a period when those who philosophically align with me were being stupid, I accept them. What I do not accept is that the previous election - or any other - is a signal to suddenly - and without debate, dissent, qualification or reason - rewrite the fabric of American livelihood.

The labor movement gave us the concept of paid overtime, minimum wage, safety laws, retirement, family and medical leave, collective bargaining, but more importantly, the labor movement gave us the middle class - the backbone of America's economic might and longevity. You don't suddenly declare a false, self-contributed economic crisis after a 100 million dollar benefit/pay concession from unions, and then assume that's a reason to just rip it out of American consciousness. In Republican willingness to give tax cuts to rich people while running gigantic deficits (which everyone else suffers for), they've forgotten that our economic straits are the byproduct of a Ponzi economy constructed by the amoral greed of people rich enough to pay the government for get-out-of-jail cards. Unions are not the cause. State overspending on entitlements are not the cause. The average American is not the case. But they're seeing the aftermath of the financial crash that decisively discredited plutocracy, and oligarchical capitalism as their opportunity to make those virtues permanent, and they're perfectly willing to starve us and strip away our most basic rights to do it. I reject the premise that they have that authority. And so should every American.

They're spitting on the American public with the contempt built up from decades of failure and philosophical impotence. Their righteousness is confirmed by their echo chamber. Their flaws are concealed by a corporatist, aristocratic media establishment. And their wrongness is accentuated by the delusions they've fed to legions of their truest believers. But the strength of their assault shouldn't veil its desperation. If they thought they could do this legitimately, they would. But they operate through subversion, deception and manipulation when they deign to do anything at all, so we should start seeing this for what it is: the final gasp of a movement with no real solution beyond the forced, avoidable degradation of our living standards. Their miscalculation is that they think they can use this false mandate to give their unaccepted policies and unsupported arguments a legitimacy that society hasn't accorded it. Their undoing will be in the assumption that we lack the teeth to bite the hand that's feeding us bones while promising meat.

This isn't the Gingrich or Bush era. Internet organization isn't outside of our imagination or a floundering concept in its infancy. They cannot do this and hide. What's more, they cannot continue this and get away with it. They've made this more than political. They've made this more than an honest disagreement between multiple parties who have reasonably divergent views. They've made this more than a practical or necessary measure. They've made it personal. And by doing so, they're cementing the radicalization that Obama's presidency made dormant.

These recent events don't call for centrism, or restraint. They don't even call for an exclusively partisan embrace of the Democrats. They call for anti-Republicanism. They call for pro-labor liberalism. They call for a liberalism that assumes that a social safety net should be a societal guarantee and not some abstract privilege for rich people to negotiate away when they feel like adding an extra billion to their profits. They call for a liberalism that assumes that the government's primary responsibility is the resistance of plutocracy, not subservience to it. They call for a liberalism that assumes that we've paid our fair share to the rich and we've suffered on their behalf for the last time. They call for a liberalism that assumes that now's the time for them to acknowledge that.

But first, we have to acknowledge that we have a philosophical stumbling block that fancies itself as a wall. There are still reasonable conservatives, and good Republicans. There will always be reasonable conservatives and good Republicans. But honesty should compel us to admit that the most reasonable ones have abandoned all that the party stands for long ago, and what it currently represents and what it speaks for either represses or perverts the good that exists in it. Nothing can happen as long as Republicanism is a dominant political option. It has long since gone past merely "wrong". It's become evil - and I do not use that word lightly. They're morally bankrupt, insurmountably corrupt, profoundly irresponsible, insufferably incompetent and utterly, thoughtlessly callous.
While it's true that these faults are bipartisan, only one party has embraced them as inherent features. What recent events demonstrate is becoming clearer with every day that passes without the slightest hint of reflection or concession. The Republicans don't just need to be defeated: conservatism needs to be permanently exiled from political consciousness.

It has brought us less than nothing as a social, political or philosophical model, and its almost religiously inflexible application has brought us completely avoidable pain. What's more, it's acted as a mechanism for the unaccountable wealthy and affluent to exert unchecked influence on our dialogue, at our expense without giving us the power to respond to the same degree. This was permitted because they always fielded politicians who were just stupid enough to weaken us but not stupid enough to do it swiftly or openly. But the media-created Tea Party sensation has caused them to let their useful idiots outpace their propaganda, and True Believers without the duplicitous vetting have been elected in place of the normal pro-plutocracy order. What I call evil is little more than the purest and most honest expression of Republican policies and their end results.

It means a state of being where a woman's uterus is state property. It means a fiscal discussion that makes sure that the standard of living for everyone is lowered for the sake of raising the finances of the wealthy - regardless of our capacity to pay for it. It means that civil liberties are situationally negotiable. It means that minority protection against institutional bias should never exist. It means that something as constitutionally basic as freedom of assembly is something to remove for unions that are perceived to vote Democrat, but preserved for unions perceived to vote Republican. It means that food and a place to live and a place to work are privileges to be stripped at leisure instead of reasonable expectations. It means that research and investment in the future of our infrastructure and technology is unthinkable. It means that lowering the standard of living for American citizens is more responsible than encouraging economic growth. It means coaxing extremism, racism and bigotry through lies and manipulation and then acting shocked when people assume you want others to act on it. It means denial of facts, denial of opposition, and an inability to compromise. It means making the foundations of our human security something that's open to question. It means the casual removal of every form of advanced distinction that conservatives rhetorically manipulate through the language of exceptionalism.

They have gone too far. And I'm no longer stoically disgusted by their policies.

I am angry.

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