The Republican Party has long been an advocate for, among other things, lower taxes and reduced regulations. These objectives seem clear enough. It is bewildering that these objectives seem to operate in a fashion contrary to the welfare of the many people who nevertheless call themselves “Republicans.”
It is understandable that citizens who are heavily invested in the stock market would support these objectives. After all, lower taxation allows them to retain and reinvest more of their money, thus increasing their overall wealth. And less regulation allows businesses and corporations to operate with impunity, allowing them to increase profits for all their investors, also increasing investor’s wealth. I get all of that.
What I don’t understand is why so many people who struggle in low-paying jobs, without basic benefits such as healthcare, continue to identify as Republicans. What has the Republican Party done lately for the 45 percent of citizens not invested in the stock market? Not much, from what I’ve seen.
The Preamble of the Constitution promises to provide for justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, general welfare, and the blessings of liberty. What I have rarely seen from the Republican Party is an interest in the fourth one: the “general welfare” of the American people (with an emphasis on “general”).
How do massive tax breaks for corporations and wealthiest Americans provide general welfare for the rest of us? If corporations and wealthy Americans were to be taxed properly, our country could probably fund a universal health plan for everyone’s general welfare. How does the deregulation of the banking industry provide general welfare for all Americans? It only puts us in danger of another financial meltdown. How does the easing of Environmental Protection Agency regulations provide for our general welfare? It doesn’t. It only makes our world less safe and more polluted. Finally, how did the recent elimination of nursing home regulations requiring infectious disease protocols work out for everyone? We all know the answer to that.
Now let’s look at some of the other directives listed on the Preamble. What about “justice?” We’ve all seen how this Republican administration has corrupted the Justice Department by assigning leadership roles to partisan yes-men. And “domestic tranquility?” I guess the administration’s answer to that was the “vicious dogs” threat unleashed upon protestors at the White House.
So, why do so many individuals in the lower half of America’s income spectrum continue to identify with the party that doesn’t really seem to care about their general welfare, justice or domestic tranquility? Part of the answer may lie in a devious strategy, adopted by the GOP in recent years. With considerable help from the conservative media, the Republican party has cleverly convinced many voters to irrationally sacrifice their general welfare for rabid oppositional convictions on single issues like gun control, women’s rights, or gay rights, even as the national wealth gap widens and their personal life circumstances crumble around them.
It may be time to reevaluate the values we hold most dear. Maybe our values should be defined not by contentious issues that may have little real effect on our own everyday lives, but by issues that contribute to the welfare of all Americans. Is it really essential that we be allowed to carry assault weapons in public places? Is your fear of blacks, or gays, or even Liberals, really a rational one? Do you really think America can return to a time when all marginalized people were kept conveniently hidden in the shadows? The Republicans want you to think so.
To be sure, there have always been plenty of bad actors in both parties. I am not naive enough to think that Democrat politicians are all pristine souls. But when you compare the two parties in regard to the issues of general welfare, domestic tranquility, justice, as well as moral leadership, this Republican Party has fallen far short of its duty to honorably serve America.
Randy Reyman is a Decatur resident.
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