We are being told not to expect a “grand bargain” in Congress this year or next. This should not be a shock to anyone who has done a little homework about the philosophical differences between the two major political parties. The “free market” extremists currently in charge of the Republican Party truly believe their theories about trickle-down economic benefits reaching the working poor. Lack of evidence hasn’t deterred them since the 1980’s when the privateers began changing the mind of Americans about how much we should look out for one another.
This is the basic difference in the value systems of the two major parties as evidenced by their party platforms. Democrats view human nature as imperfect but redeemable with care and support. Republicans see only the dark side of our nature and want to punish it. We see the difference every day in the way elected officials debate issues like food stamps, Social Security, health insurance, etc. Democrats believe helping individuals and families lead healthy productive lives benefits all of us in the long run. Republicans would have each of us fend for ourselves and then blame us for our failures.
This foundational conservative belief system, combined with new global economic challenges, produces what we see today in both Washington and many state capitals. Wealth is being shifted up the income scale at an alarming rate, and the end game is the privatization of all the social safety net programs we developed during the 20th century. This is not just an abstract difference of opinion. The majority of American families benefit in one form or another from those programs.
Income disparity today is the highest since the late 1920’s just before the Great Depression. Tea party Republicans want to eliminate the minimum wage as well as the social welfare programs that millions of service workers depend on for survival. But they are okay with billions of dollars in subsidies to oil companies and the offshoring of profits to avoid paying U.S. taxes. That is evidence enough that their argument about the national debt rings hollow.
Voters will have to decide between now and next November if we are going to continue to treat each other as opponents in the struggle to survive on the crumbs thrown to us by billionaires, or if we are going to demand the respect we deserve. The difference between the two major parties is blatantly obvious, and the choice is ours to make.