What Do Republicans Want?

Summer                                                             Under the Lily Moon

David Brooks, in a column titled What Republicans Think, says, “…many Republicans have now come to the conclusion that the welfare-state model is in its death throes.”  He quotes from a longer essay, “Our Age of Anxiety”, by Yuval Levin, published in the Weekly Standard.

“We have a sense that the economic order we knew in the second half of the 20th century may not be coming back at all — that we have entered a new era for which we have not been well prepared. … We are, rather, on the cusp of the fiscal and institutional collapse of our welfare state, which threatens not only the future of government finances but also the future of American capitalism.”

Brooks then goes on to say:

“To Republican eyes, the first phase of that collapse is playing out right now in Greece, Spain and Italy — cosseted economies, unmanageable debt, rising unemployment, falling living standards…

This is the source of Republican extremism: the conviction that the governing model is obsolete. It needs replacing.”

This is the first analysis from the Republican side I’ve seen that makes sense of the large disconnect so apparent in Congress and among American voters.  How you define is how you solve is an analytical tool I learned long ago and it applies here.

The Republicans smell blood in the water and are rising for a feeding frenzy.  That makes sense of the strangely apocalyptic and weird debt limit tangles between the House and the President; it makes sense of the Tea Party which wants, paradoxically, to shrink government and strengthen their social security and medicare.

We on the liberal/progressive side see this election, as we’ve seen most elections during my lifetime, as focused on adjusting the gears and levers of a system that more or less works.*

The Republicans see an economic Gulliver bound by the Lilliputian regulators, threads across its vast strong body, and stakes driven in the ground by statute to hold the threads taut and the vigorous giant in check.  If only they could rip off the bonds, they believe, then Gulliver would spring up and make all things new and profitable.

If this is the way you see the problem, the way you define it, then your solution is obvious, throw the bums out, take an axe made for your corporation (probably in China) and sever the cords.

There is another way to view our moment in history and I will discuss that in a later post.

*[Not true of the elections surrounding the Vietnam War. A New Left critique that wants broader economic democracy, a more socialist direction coupled with identity equality and more realistic immigration policies and universal health care, is the one I favor, but I don’t see the path to get there at this point in our history.  It is not hard to see that this is the polar opposite of the Republican vision. Perhaps this is the radical left’s moment for think tanks and analysis, building a theoretical base for a push later in the century when the failures of late stage capitalism’s blind climate change denial has brought the globe to its knees, panting.]




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