Thursday, January 3, 2008

Welcome Former Republicans!

By Saje Williams

I know you're angry. We're all angry. They sold you a pig in a poke and it turns out that such things as "fiscal conservatism" and "family values" were little more than marketing slogans in stead of an example of truth in advertising.

I won't even say "I told you so." It just wouldn't be fair. It's difficult enough for people to accept the fact that they've been deceived and everything of value in their life either threatened or simply taken away by the swift fingers of a practiced con artist.

They told you that it would be good for you for their rich friends to get huge tax breaks, that it would "trickle down" to put more money in your pocket. In ALL our pockets. But it didn't. Because the ultra-rich tend to hoard money rather than spend it. Another couple thousand dollars in the hands of someone who already has nearly everything he or she could have ever wanted isn't going to find its way back into the economy. It's going to be stashed away, or, worse yet, used to pay for the airfare to go on a fabulous ski vacation in the Swiss Alps.

If YOU were to get a few thousand dollars, how would YOU spend it? On things you need, right? It would slip through your fingers like sand and you'd be left wondering where it went. But we know where it went. It went back into the economy, buying goods and services that help out your neighbors.

That's the way this sort of thing works. WE, the People, the workers and consumers, are what drive the economic machine. Without our labor, and our daily purchases, the machine grinds to a noisy halt.

You've been assured time and time again that the icons of the "conservative" movement had your back. They'd look out for you and your family. They practiced "family values" and, to prove it, launched an aggressive war against the very notion of "gay rights."

But you know what's a far more crippling attack on your family than a couple of gay people trying to survive an often inhospitable world? I'll tell you.

Lack of healthcare. Having to put yourself in debt up to your eyebrows to afford a badly needed operation.

The price of gas. It's difficult to get by when you have to pay an arm and a leg for fuel just to get to and from work. Meanwhile, the oil companies are laughing all the way to the bank, not only because they're making record profits, but because they're getting tax breaks from the government they neither need, nor deserve. Did you know that when Bill Clinton left office, the price of a gallon of gas was less than half of what it is now?

Underfunded education. Your kids are going to school and being taught how to pass tests, not how to acquire and process information effectively. Your kids are being expected to go into the job market and compete in a world market where nearly every other industrialized nation in the world has an education system many times superior to our own. Tuition rates are so high that just to get a decent college education can put a person deeply in debt for years to come. And there's no guarantee that they'll ever be able to get a job doing what they went to school for. Unless they come out a doctor, or a lawyer, they could just as easily find themselves working in a convenience store after graduation because all the jobs they thought were waiting for them have been shipped overseas.

Deregulation. They sold America a bill of goods, saying that all the regulations controlling how Big Business operates were actually harmful to the economy because it interfered with their ability to make a profit. Except, well, those same regulations kept lending institutions from making inadvisable loans to people without the ability to pay them back. They prevented unscrupulous credit agencies from preying on your college-age children, telling them that they could go out and buy anything they wanted and worry about the bill later. Except they didn't tell them that one misstep would send the interest rates skyrocketing. They didn't tell them that people who actually PAID off their cards at the end of the month fell into the undesirable customers category. The credit card companies WANT people who can't pay their bills.

And it gets better. How about a war we can't find a way out of, with a price tag in human suffering and cold hard cash that makes your head spin? Torture done in our names, upon human beings who have never been convicted of any crime, who have been denied even the most basic right to defend themselves in a court of law.

I know it's easy to try to blame everything on Bush, saying to yourself "well, he's not really a conservative."

Only one problem with that argument. Until things started going so terribly wrong, nearly every "conservative" icon, both inside and outside of government, was cheering everything this administration was doing. It wasn't until things started going wrong that they tried to distance themselves from Bush.

The problems that are facing the United States at this juncture are the product of what's generally known as "conservative" ideology. Except, well, frankly, none of these people are in any way "conservative." They're not trying to conserve anything, but, instead, return the nation to a time and place that never existed, or, if it did, was the next thing to hell for everyone not a member of the monied elite. They're regressive, not conservative. They think that America will be a better place if things went back to the way they were before the LAST time they crashed the economy.

They want to return to what Teddy Roosevelt called "the gilded age," a time when industrial robber barons wielded so much power that the government itself couldn't hope to rein them in. A time when THEY called the shots, and the citizens of the country were so much disposable labor. But now, we're not even that to them. We're a MARKET. Someplace to sell the goods they pay pennies on the dollar to make in other countries across the globe, where they can treat the workers however they like.

These are people for whom any notion of morality can only apply to OTHERS, not themselves. That is how they can condemn certain behaviors in public, yet practice the same behaviors behind closed doors. They make the rules for US to follow, but have no intention of following them themselves. It's their version of the Golden Rule. "He with the gold, rules."

I, for one, welcome you all you truth-seeking former Republicans with open arms. Because you're choosing to take the first steps toward truth. Toward the realization that they DON'T have your best interests at heart, and their public face is in no way reflective of their private personas. That the only thing you are to them is a nameless, faceless vote. Someone they've tried to train to respond to specific stimuli.

But you're not a dog, conditioned to come running with a mouthful of drool when you hear the bell ring. You're a human being, and you've seen through their bullshit. That's why you're here.

Sure, compared to the Republicans, the Democratic Party may seem a bit chaotic and more than a little scattered. The fact is, we don't have a unifying agenda like they do. We see things differently. We have a philosophy that says that government should give more than it takes, that government should protect the little guy first, that government belongs to We, the People, rather than They, the Corporations.

People like you and people like me.

And, in the end, that makes a world of difference.

Posted in full with author's permission.

Originally posted at

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