Rotten Fruit of Pure Republicanism
August 13, 2002
By Jerry Tyler
Three circumstances have converged at the same time to give
the majority party unprecedented freedom to advance their
1. Following the election of 2000, many people, lawmakers
in particular, expressed a strong intention to avoid the bitter
political witch-hunting and character assassination that had
occurred over the past 8 years. Exhibiting a dramatic overreaction,
many congressional Democrats have since failed to challenge
the Republicans on basic Constitutional rights issues, war
making, and even their mandatory oversight responsibilities.
2. After the election, Republicans controlled the Executive
Branch, both houses of congress, and at least the Supreme
Court, if not the majority of the Judicial Branch. Five months
after the election Jim Jeffords quit the Republican party
- giving the Senate to the Democrats - which provided the
potential to at least restrain an unfettered Republican juggernaut.
Alas, this has proved to be no obstacle to the Republican
agenda in the aftermath of September 11. The terrorist attack
provided the administration with another opportunity to govern
with minimal resistance. The war that followed, and continues,
has perpetuated that lack of resistance.
3. The success of the economy over most of the past decade
has created a complacency among the electorate. Things in
general have been so good for so long that mainstream citizens
no longer know how to resist, or even believe they need to
Given the circumstances, we are currently experiencing what
must surely be a virtually "pure" Republican agenda. One cannot
make the argument that the administration's policies are being
watered down by a recalcitrant congress. One cannot make the
argument that "liberal judges" are misinterpreting the Constitution.
One cannot even make the argument that the administration
is proposing compromised budgets and policies in order to
ensure passage. Virtually everything is being accepted with
minimal revision or even debate. So we can state with confidence
that our current circumstances are what results from an unopposed
Republican agenda. So what do we get in a "pure" Republican
1. A PERMANENT STATE OF WAR. An argument can be made that
our nation's actions prior to Sept. 11 in some way prompted
the attack. But even assuming that the attack could not be
avoided, it is clear that there were, and are, a range of
choices in our response. The historical and traditional Republican
platform of supporting a strong military and national defense,
as opposed to diplomacy, United Nations intervention, trade
sanctions, and other less lethal responses, has landed us
in a perpetual state of war. A less pure Republican agenda
would most likely involve less killing.
2. EROSION OF CIVIL RIGHTS. Republican resistance to broad
civil rights is also traditional and historical. Current circumstances
have allowed the administration to actively pursue severe
erosion of US citizens' civil rights, even to the point of
detaining US citizens with no charges against them, and preventing
access to a lawyer - perhaps the most basic of our constitutional
rights. The administration is apparently claiming that anyone
can be detained like this simply because some the president
chooses to call them an "enemy combatant". You could be next.
3. FAILING ECONOMY. Claims that the current poor performance
of the economy are left over from the previous administration
become more ludicrous by the day. It has been nearly two years
now since the election. The economy is not driven solely by
the annual budget. There are daily maintenance interventions
required that provide the small corrections necessary to prevent
larger problems. The administration has various levels of
control over such things as money supply, interest rates,
foreign investment, taxes, research and development funding,
securities trading, and many others.
The administration cannot escape responsibility for their
stewardship of these mechanisms. The economy under the previous
administration weathered many potential crises successfully,
including a meltdown of the Asian economy, significant military
interventions, and a severe crisis in the Mexican economy,
by manipulating these ingredients.
Also, the so-called stock market "bubble" that burst this
year, is a direct result of the Republican-controlled congress
of the last decade promoting less oversight, less regulation,
and less taxes. Even so, the last administration was able
to keep the economy healthy despite all of these potential
economic land mines. The current administration knows what
they want to do in principle, but either lack the necessary
skills to implement their ideas, or the ideas just don't work.
4. DETERIORATING ENVIRONMENT. Republicans see environmental
issues as being closely tied to the economy. Businesses must
not be hampered by environmental regulations in order to succeed.
But if the businesses are not hampered, and the economy still
sucks, what we are left with is just worse water, worse air,
sicker people, less bio-diversity, and melting ice caps.
5. NO WELFARE. Welfare to Work succeeded because there were
plenty of jobs in the few years after it was enacted. Nevertheless,
there are people who have been kicked out of welfare, who
now have no chance to succeed. This condition will worsen
if the economy continues to falter. The homeless population
will increase dramatically, as it did in the early eighties
when Reagan cut more than two billion dollars from welfare
and Labor Department programs.
6. FAILURE OF EDUCATION. Like welfare, Republicans would
like to completely eliminate public education, and now they
finally get to begin the process. It will take twenty years
to find out that this doesn't work, because at first it will
look good. At first, a small percentage of students will be
able to use vouchers to attend private schools, and they very
well might perform better. This will be used as evidence to
support expanding the program. Eventually, hundreds of thousands
of students will be attending different schools from the ones
in their neighborhood.
New schools will have to be built to accommodate them, and
new teachers found. The old schools will be demolished for
lack of students. What will happen to the students who were
left behind at those schools is unknown. Enough new teachers
will not be found, so the same teachers will have to be transferred
to the new schools. In twenty years, we will have the same
students and the same teachers in new buildings, performing
worse because it will be harder for the parents to be involved
since their kids' school is across town.
During the time the new schools are being built, the classes
will be overcrowded and there will be teacher shortages since
parents will try to avoid placing their students with teachers
previously from the public schools. Not only that, many of
these schools will be religious or some other form of private
school, the intention being to teach the kids a particular
belief system. But who gets to decide what standards are required
to participate in the voucher system? Are Buddhist schools
to be allowed? Muslim?
Will there be standardized testing? If so, how is that different
from what we are doing now? If not, how do we prevent huge
disparities in the quality of education in various communities?
Some states may choose to cut education funding drastically.
Don't we at least agree that decent basic education is good
for the community by giving kids the tools to succeed in the
world? With thousands of different curriculum standards, how
do we expect these kids to grow up and be able to interact
with others? These are the very reasons public schooling was
designed in the first place.
7. INCREASED CRIME. Crime statistics are directly related
to the health of the economy. Higher unemployment equals more
crime. But also, the mandatory sentencing and higher criminal
penalties of the last decade, sponsored by the Republican-controlled
congress, has created hundreds of thousands of hardened prisoners
who are now starting to be released. After serving eight or
ten years in prison, these people have little hope of starting
or resuming a career, or even getting a job at all, let alone
owning a house or starting a family. Crime dropped for several
years, but mostly because virtually everyone could find a
job and had the hope of succeeding. Crime did not drop because
potential criminals thought ten years as opposed to five years
in prison for getting caught was unacceptable. Criminals do
not think they will get caught.
"PURE" REPUBLICAN AGENDA EQUALS:
2. REVOCATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS
3. ECONOMIC FAILURE
4. ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION
5. MORE HOMELESS
6. EDUCATION FAILURE
7. INCREASED CRIME
This could be the most severe crisis in the history of our
country. Every major building block our society is based on
is teetering on the brink of collapse; our economic system,
our civil liberties, and our international relationships.
Perhaps never before since the very early days of the Republic,
have we faced crises in all three of these areas at the same
time, with the possible exception of the Nixon era. This is
what we get with pure Republicanism.