November 6th, 2018 by Zachary Shahan
Numerous prominent Republicans and former Republicans, some of whom were in top positions in Republican White Houses and Congress, have urged voters to vote for Democrats in this election (often for a whole set of reasons related to democracy and protecting the core essence of the United States that I’m not even going to discuss in this article). Here are the names and faces of some of them, with links to their Wikipedia pages:
David Jolly, Former Republican Congressman
Bill Kristol, founder and editor-at-large of the conservative political magazine The Weekly Standard. Also held high roles in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations
Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman
Steve Schmidt, top Republican campaign official for George W. Bush, John McCain, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Jennifer Rubin, prominent conservative journalist
Rick Wilson, Republican political strategist who served on George H. W. Bush’s presidential campaign and Rudy Giuliani campaigns; was also a “presidential appointee to the Department of Defense under then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.”
Max Boot, notable conservative and historian
But Republicans telling Republicans to vote Democratic is not the topic of this article.
I can understand the appeal of Republican ideology, can understand that in some situations less government is clearly better than more government, and can understand that people don’t like paying taxes (even though they like having good schools, parks, roads, Social Security, militaries, etc.).
However, as with most things, whether something is good or not depends on the dose. No government = anarchy. No corporate regulation = letting corporations do whatever they want (hire 7 year olds, abuse their workers, work them 80 hrs a week, poison the public, etc.). While I’d like to believe Republican politicians wouldn’t like to bring the United States to such extremes, boy, they sure seem intent on proving me wrong.
Naturally, a talking point Republican politicians use is that Democrats are actually insane extremists who want to put every aspect of our lives under government control, ration out some measly weekly allowance for people, take our babies and grow them in government-designed incubators until they’re 18, and stifle all business creativity and progress. Of course, I think that portrait is absurd.
Again, what really matters is diving into some details, understanding context, and trying to genuinely understand Republican versus Democratic policy.
There are many issues that could be discussed, but I’m going to focus on a few that I think are absolutely critical to our society today and in the future.
1. Quality of Life
Catastrophic climate change is not an abstract concept for only future generations to deal with. It is already here, creating or worsening wildfires, hurricanes, superstorms, droughts, famine, mass climate-induced migration, war (yes, already), and all of the economic challenges that result from the above.
Even though it’s clear that words don’t always lead to actions, every country on earth has agreed that we must try hard to stop global heating. For some odd reason, the US Republican Party has decided it’s okay to flunk this subject, not have an opinion on the topic since they aren’t scientists yet also not believe the climate scientists, and just generally risk human livability on this planet. Extreme? Yes, very extreme — disturbingly extreme.
Why in the world would top politicians — supposedly smart and thoughtful people — sit far under water in the deep end of scientific awareness and human self-preservation? There are basically two explanations I have come up with over the years.
One is that Republican politicians are honestly complete idiots, morons who don’t understand the scientific method, who don’t understand they are hurting their children’s and grandchildren’s chance of a good life, and who don’t understand that humans can put enough greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to trap unsafe levels of heat and threaten the future of humanity.
The other is that they are simply selfish, shameful, greedy people who put their own short-term interests over the interests of everyone else, including billions of other humans. I think that explanation is visualized best via the two charts below. The first one shows political donations from oil & gas industries in 2015–2016. The second one shows political donations from the coal industry in 2015–2016. The red colors are for Republicans and “conservative groups” while the blue colors are for Democrats and “liberal groups.”
You may have noticed something odd there. That’s right — oil, coal, and gas companies donated millions of dollars to Republicans and “conservative groups” in 2015–2016 and almost nothing to Democrats and “liberal groups.” Swampy? You better believe it!
These companies are not normal members of society. Their “financial success” means destroying human livability on this planet. They are — make no mistake — putting short-term financial gain over human society as a whole.
Just as a pizza won’t burn the moment after you put it in the oven but will pass beyond “tasty” and “edible” on the way to a black circle of garbage if left in the oven too long, human society in the Earth’s climate is similar. The problem is that we’re rushing toward “not tasty” and “not edible” yet certain forces in our society are unwilling to acknowledge that and turn the oven off.
With a destroyed climate, quality of life is going to suck.
Even if you ignore the climate, letting oil, gas, and coal companies pollute as much as they want means a societal cost of billions of dollars a year in cancer, heart disease, health care costs, and premature death. In other words, our decision to not put more controls on these pollution manufacturers means a dramatic hit to our quality of life. It may not be apparent today, but it should be more apparent if you get diagnosed with a common cancer, heart disease, asthma, or something else due to the air pollution in your area.
The short story: Sure, letting companies do what they want is often fine, but there are cases in which that lack of oversight and lack of guiding government policy (through sensible carrots and sticks) can mean the destruction of human society.
2. Health Care
In other developed countries, people also have jobs, make money, and pay taxes. In almost all of them, a good portion of those taxes go toward ensuring that all citizens have access to critical, basic, affordable (or “free”) health care. For some reason, in the United States, we think that we deserve no such basic care for our health and lives. We think that if we can’t afford health insurance privately, we should have to risk personal bankruptcy in the case of a medical emergency. We think that many people should simply stay home, unexamined by a doctor and untreated, if we have a health problem but have not been able to pay for health insurance.
Okay, not all of us hold those beliefs. However, as a society, that is the policy we’ve settled on. Actually, the majority of Americans don’t believe the things above, yet the majority of the politicians elected (almost all Republican politicians at the national level) support the above health care policy and won’t budge on it.
There is a common point in the aftermath of mass shootings (something that seems to be unique to the “United” States of America) — that what the country really needs is better attention to mental health and better care for people who have mental health problems. First of all, that’s simply not going to happen under Republican health care policy. It’s not, because they don’t believe in Americans getting basic government support for health care needs no matter what their economic standing is.
Another point seldom considered is that lack of a real social safety net — lack of basic health care and a basic standard of living — drives a sizable portion of our country’s mental health problems. Stress is harsh. The stress of wondering how you will survive can be particularly harsh. When we as a society don’t say, “Hey, we’ll get anyone’s back when they’re in need,” we set ourselves up for extremism, mental health crises, drug crises, and everything that results from those crises.
We are not just inviting a nightmare. Millions of Americans are living through nightmares every day due to our weak, cold-hearted, survive-on-your-own approach to health care.
The short story: It has been stunning to watch Republican political ads this campaign cycle in which Republican candidates flat-out lie about what they stand for in regards to health care policy. They have repeatedly claimed they support things that their voting records and legal records show they absolutely don’t support. Why is that? It’s because health care is top of mind for many Americans and Republican politicians do not support the health care policies that Americans actually want. They have worked incessantly to remove health care for people with pre-existing conditions. They have worked incessantly to cut Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare — and near the top of their policy agenda now is cutting funding for those things to help pay for the massive tax cuts recently given to billionaires and millionaires. Since Republican politicians are not on the side of health care that voters want, these politicians resort to lying. Unfortunately, not enough voters realize that.
3. It’s The Economy, Stupid!
Why do Republican politicians — who have had essentially complete power on the national level for two years — talk so little about specific economic policies? Because their policies suck.
“Trickle-down economics” has been proven a sham. Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans do not raise average worker wages or improve their quality of life. Cutting corporate taxes in an overheated economy does not lead to solid, sustainable, strong economic growth.
There are dozens of ways the government could make our economy more robust, more resilient, and less likely to run into another deep recession. Cutting taxes and letting banks make risky bets and trick consumers if they so desire are not some of those solutions, but that’s basically all that Republicans in power have implemented.
Letting polluting industries pollute more — much more — is not what the economy needs. Boosting fast growing industries, such as clean energy and electric vehicle industries, makes a country more competitive in the global economy of the 21st century. But rather than showing an eagerness to move forward, “conservative” Republican policy has focused on going backward again. The “Make America Great Again” slogan has been very appropriate in some respects — Republican policy has been to go years or even decades backward on certain environmental, economic, and social topics. The thing Republicans don’t seem to understand is that going backwards makes our economy much weaker and much less competitive in 2018 and onward. Other countries aren’t trying to go backward; they’re going forward.
Republican policy, as it did in decades prior under Reagan and the Bush family dynasty, is setting the United States up for an economic crash. Obama and Democratic control of Congress were able to pull us out of the last economic crisis. It’s unfortunate that society so quickly forgot (or never learned) what caused the economic hardship and who solved the problem. It’s unfortunate that we quickly reverted to Republican politicians and policies that are driving us toward another economic cliff.
Improve our quality of life, health care, and economy today. Vote Democratic.
Do not shirk your civic responsibility.
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