By Lynn Paris
Now, in the peaceful lull between the divisive, nasty, name-calling mid-term elections until Congress reconvenes with all the newly elected republicans in place, I’ve had time to mellow out a little. Without the constant barrage of negative campaign attack ads I actually can breathe more easily and listen more intently.
And the fact is, I finally get it. Yes, it will come as a vast relief to some of my conservative republican friends (if, indeed, they are still my friends) that I finally understand what they’re talking about. See, I thought it was all about saying “no” and hating Obama (and/or Pelosi). I thought most tea party people were a little bit racist or a little bit afraid of being the minority in this country. I thought it was all about regaining control, control with no answers or solutions, but just control for the sake of it. I don’t know why I thought that—probably because those were the strident voices that got the most air and internet play, but that’s what I thought. I failed to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the conservatives; I didn’t give them credit for opposing everything the Obama administration did based on an actual political ideology.
But I get it now. I’ve heard some non-inflammatory, intelligent republicans recently, now that they’re no longer campaigning, and I actually understand where they’re coming from. It’s all about what’s in the constitution. If it’s not in the constitution, you can’t, or shouldn’t do it. That makes sense. After all, we all love and respect the constitution.
And redistributing the wealth is clearly NOT in the constitution. That’s the bedrock of conservatism. It’s not that the democrats or Obama didn’t articulate their policies well enough. It’s their policies that the voters were repudiating. The federal government simply cannot mandate that any money, even a tiny, infinitesimal part of it, be taken from the millionaire and billionaires of this country and be used to create jobs, stimulate the economy, make health care more affordable or in any other way be spread around to help the middle or lower classes. That would be unconstitutional. And also un-American, because apparently all of us harbor the notion, somewhere deeply embedded in our psyches, that some day, maybe we too might be billionaires; that’s the American dream. Conservatives will fight for the rights of the rich every time in order to keep that dream alive.
I confirmed this with a conservative colleague. He was thrilled that I finally got it. So exactly how does this work? I asked him. Do we wait for the big banks and financial institutions and huge corporations to feel generous and kick start the economy? Once they’re sure they get to keep their tax cuts (cause THAT’S a no-brainer) are they going to start lending money to Main Street and create jobs for the thousands of currently unemployed teachers and mechanics and nurses and salespeople and laborers? Are they going to initiate all those infrastructure and alternative energy projects we so desperately need? Yes, of course, that’s how it works, he told me. It’s free market capitalism. It trickles down. He was actually glowing with the beauty of it all. He has a much higher regard for the trickle down theory than I have. I haven’t noticed much trickling down lately.
What I HAVE noticed is a lot of talk about spending cuts. Which also makes sense; even I can’t argue that we need to cut spending. Problem is, the cuts I’ve been hearing about will be aimed at social programs that help the middle class and the poor while the wealthy hold on to their tax cuts. They will push for cuts to Medicare, social security, higher education . . . who knows what else. The republicans will also be working hard to get rid of all that government meddling by eliminating the financial reforms that managed to get by them the first time around. (After all, it’s obvious that Wall Street learned its lesson.) Get rid of those pesky regulations, too, because the federal government should stay out of big business, especially the oil and health care business.
And guess what? It’s all constitutional. Doesn’t redistribute the wealth to anyone (well, except to the rich, but I don’t think that counts). It’s what the people voted for: the restoration of the American dream. It remains to be seen if they got what they wanted . . . or if we’re in for a really long nightmare.