Be very scared.
[Graphic: Uncle Sam being drowned in a bathtub, with five hands choking his throat]
An alliance in the Republican Party has a stranglehold on the US political system. The five hands choking Uncle Sam to death belong to
- Tea Party members and other libertarians, whose uncompromising opposition to taxation is making it impossible to fund good government and to reverse increasing indebtedness and concentration of wealth.
- Neoconservatives, architects of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and who-knows-where-else. Neocons are the prime patrons of the military establishment.
- The Christian Right, who share with neoconservatives a crusader-like antipathy towards Muslims and a deep faith in rightness of the American Empire. Due to their opposition to gays, abortion, and secularism, members of the Christian Right share with libertarians a dislike of government. Many Tea Party members are also fundamentalist Christians. See Rick Perry’s Army of God and The New Yorker’s Leap of Faith (on Michelle Bachmann) for a taste of the craziness of the front-running GOP Christians.
- Mainstream corporate Republicans, who look down their noses at the crazier members of their alliance. To please their libertarian allies, mainstream Republicans often mouth words like “liberty” and “freedom”. To please their Christian allies, mainstream Republicans often mouth words like “unborn children” and “homosexual agenda”. But the main concerns of the mainstream Republican are (1) aiding their corporate and wealthy patrons and (2) profiting from corruption and kickbacks.
- The monied elite, consisting of military contractors, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, the Fed, Wall Street, the banks, and super-wealthy people such as the Koch brothers. The monied elite are the real power behind the GOP and the real beneficiaries of deregulation and corporate welfare. Their guiding tentacles extend also into the Democratic Party. “Centrist” Democrats such as Blue Dogs and President Obama often vote with Republicans for the interests of the monied elite over that of Main Street.
Racism, xenophobia, and anti-intellectualism motivate many alliance members.
There are obvious tensions within the GOP alliance. Some libertarians have an admirable antipathy to corruption and militarism. But don’t worry! The other members of the alliance balance that antipathy with a devotion to greed, war and corruption that belies their professed opposition to government waste. Some Christian conservatives do care about the poor and about ending wars; unfortunately, their devotion to brainless embryos and to other-worldly religious doctrines usually outweighs their concern for the living poor, sick, homeless, and elderly. The neocons are generally skeptical of the libertarians, since the neocons know they need tax money to fund their wars. And many libertarians, neocons, and mainstream Republicans are scared of the Christian Right; but they’re too dependent on them for votes to oppose their craziness.
How can progressives pry apart the GOP coalition? You’d think that mainstream Christians would fight back against the fundamentalist crazies. But mainstream people tend to be disorganized, unless it’s to their immediate financial benefit. It’s the crazies who seem to get in power. Libertarians such as Ron Paul and some Tea Party members vote against war funding. So far, they haven’t succeeded at slowing militarism.
At some point, the whole system is going to collapse in on itself. America can’t continue to wage expensive wars while keeping historic low rates of taxes and while allowing corporations to ship jobs and profits overseas. Without government services and regulations, the system will become even more corrupt and more inefficient, and the people will protest in the streets due to unemployment and unaffordable education and health care.
The current favored solution to the debt problem is to slash “entitlements” such as Social Security and Medicare and to dismantle agencies like the EPA. It seems likely that, eventually, environmental chaos and social unrest will lead to some sort of crisis.
Overall, the GOP’s policies seem destined to turn the nation into a banana republic.
Let’s hope the result isn’t a resurgence of right wing populism (fascism).
Is the mess even fixable by electoral politics?