Here’s a tough philosophical question for you. What is more important to you – the well-being of those of us presently living on Earth, or the well-being of succeeding generations?
Over the past fifty years, the Republican Party has taken a definite stance of minimizing its commitment to the well-being of those of us who currently inhabit Planet Earth. The GOP has become more callous in how it regards, or disregards, the well-being of those of us who currently on Earth.
In recent years, when America has been in crisis such as the Great Recession of 2008-09, or the recent and current COVID pandemic, Republicans become extremely miserly. They resist providing necessary financial aid to those who are suffering the most. This is odd, because many people believe that it is natural for currently alive human beings to look out for their own well-being first and worry less about those who come later.
Some believe that an inherent element of evolution is for each generation to want to make the world better for those that come next. But the history of our world has been replete with wars; ones in which billions of children have had their parents taken from them. Left behind are children with limited resources and bitter memories. If the Republican philosophy of prioritizing the future over the present held true, each generation would have become more peace-loving and prosperous. While there is some evidence of that, for the most part the economic and human rights status of today’s children is falling behind that of their parents, most particularly those in the United States.
There are clear political explanations to these conundrums. Democrats, particularly the progressives among them, are consistently seeking to improve the quality of life for those of us who are currently inhabiting Planet Earth. It may seem odd to speak of the New Deal or the Great Society in the context of cosmic issues such as planetary or universal evolution, but what is essential to know about Democratic policies is that they have a key common denominator. They are always working to make the quality of life better for those of us who at any point in time happen to be alive on earth. The New Deal was essential in moving millions of Americans out of poverty and misery. The Great Society provided enhanced civil liberties, health care, job training, educational opportunities and more for those who were alive in the 1960s. Republicans were largely opposed to these programs, just as they have recently been to the stimulus and social welfare programs of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
In Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s book Peril, about the end of the Trump Administration and beginning of the Biden one, we see how Republicans are very parsimonious when it comes to providing needed aid to those Americans who are suffering through the COVID pandemic as well as growing economic inequality.
Upon becoming president, Joe Biden sought $1.9 trillion for Americans to recover from the COVID pandemic and the damage it was doing to the economy. Republicans wanted far less. Maine’s GOP senator Susan Collins cobbled together a group of ten Republicans with the express purpose of forging a reasonable compromise with the new administration. The figure that the Republicans offer is $618 billion, less than a third of Democratic $1.9 trillion amount from President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
There have been times in American history when the political parties would have a disagreement like this. Each side recognized that its figure was a starting point. Representatives would meet in small groups. In this case of relief from the COVID pandemic, the Democrats would figure out how low they could go; the Republicans, how high they could go.
But in this case, the Republicans felt that the fact that their figure was greater than zero demonstrated that they were negotiating in good faith. They felt that it was good enough to let the American people, including the Democrats, know that they cared enough about the COVID problem that they were willing to do something, no matter how little.
The problem is that the Republicans expressed no awareness of the suffering that so many Americans, and individuals outside the United States, were experiencing at a time of severe illness, double-digit unemployment, and psychological isolation.
Simply put, the Republicans showed virtually no empathy for hundreds of millions of Americans who were suffering through the pandemic and related maladies. An illustrative component of the Republicans’ lack of concern and commitment about the suffering of the American people was that it did not seem to matter that millions of Republicans were among those hardest hit. This became particularly clear in early 2021 when COVID vaccinations hit the market and many Republicans chose to forgo them.
A second contemporary issues that clearly demonstrates how Republicans have minimal regard to for the currently living is abortion. Republicans have gone to all lengths to make legal abortion difficult, even impossible, in the United States. The bizarre Texas law with bounty hunters is only the latest in their efforts to suppress of women’s reproductive rights.
Republicans seem comfortable abrogating the rights of their wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters for the vague commitment to protecting the lives of fetuses. While protecting the lives of fetuses is sound policy when examined in isolation, it pales in comparison to protecting the well-being of currently-living woman who is experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. The result is that we have more women, and men, who reluctantly become parents and often do not provide the necessary love and attention to their unwanted children.
Why is it that many Republicans place so little value on women and men and even children who are living now, and place greater importance on yet to be born generations? It is difficult to fathom. The impact of this public policy is huge. It reduces our collective chances of improving the quality of life for those among us who are currently living.
What is essential to keep in mind is that when we diminish the quality of life for those among us currently on Earth, we sacrifice opportunities for each current generation to improve life for itself, and equally important, for those who will follow. By addressing current needs on earth, we allow for subsequent generations to live more complete lives because the generations before them will have enjoyed greater human and economic rights.
Building from one generation to the next is not that difficult a concept, but regrettably, most Republicans have a difficult time grasping it. We see the results of their myopic view. Republicans give us the likes Donald Trump for a president and manipulate our political system so that even when Democrats such as Barack Obama or Joe Biden to win elections, it is difficult for them to govern effectively.
Democracy is at risk. A big step towards saving it is for Republicans to refocus their main concern to the well-being of those currently alive. This will help both the present and the future. It may be in the category of wishful thinking, but at this point, wishing is our best hope.