Destroying The Government

Having run out of ideas on how to govern, the American right has turned against the very concept of governing.

My latest op-ed for Al Jazeera looks squarely at what the "Party of Lincoln" has become, beginning with a quote from Lincoln himself:

"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us.

You will rule or ruin in all events."

--Abraham Lincoln, addressing the Southern people in his Cooper Union Address, February 27, 1860.

The Republican Party still likes to fancy itself "the Party of Lincoln", so Lincoln's words in his Cooper Union Address are a particularly apt rebuke, especially since they've been talking about shutting down the government since before the 2010 mid-term elections, but now want to pin the blame on President Barack Obama and the Democrats, whom they now complain will not negotiate or compromise with them.

This is quite rich, since budgets passed both houses of Congress months ago, but Republicans repeatedly refused to appoint conference committee members so that a compromise could be struck, which is the way that budgets are normally passed in the US. Refusing to go to conference is how Republicans created the crisis in the first place, and now Republicans want to blame Democrats for not going to conference!

We should note that both houses have agreed to the same discretionary spending level - $986bn annually. This gives House Republicans 90 percent of what they want, and severely hampers the pace of economic recovery. No one's even arguing over that. Obama's 2014 budget called for spending $1.15tn, compared to $966bn in the GOP House budget.

Blame game
He's already given away the store, yet Republicans continue to falsely accuse the president of refusing to compromise because he won't also agree to destroy - or at least undermine - his signature piece of legislation, Obamacare, just as it was about to go public. The American people are against it, the GOP rails at him - without noting that only about one-third of the country opposes the law for being too liberal, as a May 17-18 CNN poll showed, while roughly half that many oppose the law for not being liberal enough. This is one of but many ways in which they delude themselves into thinking they represent a majority that simply does not exist, as they head down their path of destruction. Which is why you need to quote Abraham Lincoln to condemn them. Nobody else can do it quite like him.

That's because destroying the government has now become the GOP's main purpose - in direct opposition to everything that Lincoln stood for. They stumbled onto it under Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, but it proved so wildly unpopular that they had to bring in George W Bush and his "compassionate conservatism" to scramble back into power. But they proved so inept in governing - huge deficits, pointless wars, financial collapse, etc. - that they found themselves out of power once again, which only made them hate government all the more: If I can't have her, then no one can! The political party as ultimate creepy stalker. That's what the Grand Old Party of Lincoln has finally fallen to these days.

You can read the entire op-ed here.

About Paul Rosenberg

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