Monday, December 10, 2012

While Republicans Were Partying America Was Changing

Republicans have gotten awfully good at focusing attention on the concept of socialism and connecting it to Barack Obama’s fiscal cliff solution. The Catholic Church has used this kind of strategy very successfully – make people insanely terrified with masses of misinformation and they’ll do whatever you want them to.

But danger looms. America’s infrastructure is falling apart. There are 4,000 dams needing repair, 70,000 bridges in danger of collapse, and the electrical grid currently ranks 32nd in reliability in the world. Hundreds of millions of gallons of sewage are pumping into the ocean and waterways along the coast of New York and New Jersey after Sandy. Elsewhere, disaster is waiting to happen.

The air traffic control system desperately needs upgrading as do transit systems. Part of Obama’s proposed stimulus package is to repair infrastructure. His proposal doesn’t even come close to what really needs to be spent. How that could be construed as socialism boggles the mind. Here’s the truth about reality, material or not. Nothing stays the same, it either gets better or it gets worse. 

People who have been living the good life at somebody else’s expense for too long lull themselves into believing that what they have will last forever. They can afford the luxury of nurturing their prejudices and ignoring consequence. But without maintenance things fall apart, materially and in society, and no amount of denial and clever manipulation of people unable to think for themselves can change that. 

It's always the priveleged who say austerity alone is the answer to financial crisis because it’s convenient, it means they don’t have to give up anything. The strange part of this ideological no man’s land that Republicans live in is that even their own middle class followers don’t let themselves see how they have already been affected by their party’s obduracy and greed. Lemmings, all, heading towards a cliff. 

Congress isn't alone in clinging to the ridiculous idea that austerity on its own resolves debt, but I wonder what example in history they have in mind as proof that they’re right? Clearly they aren’t looking at Europe. And the truth is, strip people of too much and let the infrastructure that affects their daily lives deteriorate too far and they start throwing petrol bombs.

Republicans are already playing with fire long before the bombs are being thrown. Here’s the thing though: whether they want it or not, change is on the way for them. They may bleat about socialism and beat their chests about austerity as if it wouldn’t affect everybody, their middle class voters included, but I doubt they are so fatuous as to believe themselves. 

Perhaps I credit them with too much intelligence, but I still believe they will cave. If they refuse to budge on raising taxes so there is money to spend on infrastructure and economy stimulation, if they insist on strangling themselves and taking everybody down with them, then I’ll be proved wrong. 

Even then, will America descend into the kind of chaos that has enveloped European countries? I don’t think so. Republicans have lost their dignity and they don't represent the fierce and beautiful spirit that's fundamentally what drives America. Already the voter profile is changing in the US, and soon nobody’s going to be voting for Republicans anyway. Not unless they change. Radically. 

If good sense doesn’t prevail now Americans will suffer again for a while and the tragedy of that prospect is heartbreaking. But sense has already prevailed in Barack Obama’s re-election and it continues to gain momentum - something Republicans can’t do anything about either. I find that thought very comforting.