Smart v. Stupid
Opinion: Today's Republicans unqualified to govern
Party principles inconsistent with American leadership
There is an old business management axiom, “Never hire a manager who doesn’t believe in your product. He's sure to make a mess of your company. And when he's done screwing things up, he's sure to blame your product.”
While Republicans argue among themselves about whether laissez-faire capitalists or dogma enforcers should be in charge, it’s worth remembering that neither believes in the concept of government.
The first — call them “Business-Republicans” — are willing to double down on the recent, deregulation-caused, near-depression in order to make a few more bucks, regardless of the possibility of economic collapse. The latter — call them “Dogma-Republicans” — think the role of government is enforcing their personal belief system. Although they all believe different things, they impute that every patriotic American agrees with them. They speak broadly about taking back the government. But what little they have in common is simply that they’re pissed.
It’s also worth noting that the teabag windbags fall into this latter group. They’re claiming to be something new, but they’re not. In the Nixon era, they were called “right-wing reactionaries.” During the Clinton era, they were militia members. Always during my lifetime, about one in five Republican voters have been ready to go to war with our great nation. That's what they say anyway, loudly and with consistent grammatical mishap.
There used to be a third faction, Republican moderates, but they’ve all left the building.
Government’s job is creating a “more perfect union.” A leader who promotes divisiveness and self-interest is morally unqualified for the job. Neither unregulated capitalism, or “my way or the highway” is compatible with justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, or general welfare. Those me-first attitudes are distinctly inconsistent with the democratic nature of Americanism.
Similarly, neither is really compatible with liberty and justice for all. Each Republican faction believes in the supremacy of some Americans and the acquiescence — by force of law if necessary — of the rest. Liberty and justice for some, it seems….
It should come as no surprise to anyone why Republicans don’t believe in government. They stink at it. When they’re in charge, they generally cock things up in some spectacular way. As good as George Bush seemed to be when he all but announced that no regulation would be enforced, he proved an unmitigated disaster for the health of the economy. He also failed to subjugate an oil-producing country that seemed ripe for pillaging. And lastly, he put neoconservatism, an arguably imperialist philosophy, on life support.
Then there is the plight of social conservatives and racists. For decades now, they’ve waited for Ronald Reagan and the rest to outlaw abortion, jail undocumented workers, and end programs for the needy. They’ve voted “red” year after year, waiting for leaders to put down uppity minorities, end Spanish speaking, and bring US law and law enforcement into conformance with biblical teaching. Now they are all pretending to be economists, but make no mistake; these are the same right-wing reactionaries who think the 1950s were the greatest decade ever.
Today, the two factions are at war. And if public statements are any guide, Business-Republicans are willing to throw quite a bit of lip service towards Dogma-Republicans in order to get them to calm down. House Minority Leader John Boehner recently summed it up to Kathleen Parker. “We learned our lesson,” he said, whatever that means.
Let’s hope Americans learned our lesson. These guys are not qualified to run our “more perfect union.” Republican politicians don’t believe in the product, and they’re already blaming it – in advance. This job requires a believer, not an opportunist.
Jimmy Zuma splits his time between Washington, D.C. and Tucson. He writes the online opinion journal, Smart v. Stupid. He spent 5 years in Tucson in the early ‘80s, when life was a little slower, swamp coolers were a little more plentiful, Tucson’s legendary music scene was in full bloom, and the prevailing work ethic was “don’t - unless you have to.”