9 November 2016, San Francisco
Now that the detestable Donald Trump has at last been slid off the speaker’s platform, we are free to wonder whether it will be possible for the Repubs to regain some semblance of normalcy and decency after eight years of blatant racism and hate. Some say no, that their core no longer exists. Maybe so. We are left to wonder how it was possible for the sensible Republican party platform of the 1950s—which was much like today’s Dem platform—to devolve into the obstructionism, fear, hatred, stupidity, and magical thinking that characterized the Republicans this past decade.
Let the survivalists who are terrified for some reason by the very thought of President Hillary Clinton help the American cause by buying up guns and ammo and dried foodstuffs in weatherproof containers, and retreat to lonely places far away from the rest of us. Let the few remaining real Repubs gird their loins and push the Tea Party nitwits out of the room to commune with the rest of those who reject reality. Let them search for other real conservatives who do not fear reality, who depend on a real world based on science and things that can be proven, such as climate change. Perhaps if that happened Repubs could regroup and devote time to actually governing, rather than making opposition to the president their only political goal.
The first cause the new Republicans should embrace is the wellbeing of all Americans, rather than just the rich. The efficacy of their favored “trickle down” approach has been disproven many times, and is the cause of our worsening inequality. States managed by Republican governors had sharply diminished tax revenue that created the necessity for large budget cuts in things like education, public health, and infrastructure. Any Repubs who still buy into “trickle” should be tossed out on their ears.
The second most important thing Repubs must do is to give up their sacred myth that people are poor because they refuse to work. Sorry folks, people are poor because they can’t earn a decent living, either because they aren’t paid a living wage or there simply isn’t any work. It’s important to understand that all work is worthy work, and the simplest job must be reasonably paid with a living wage. The reason raging Trumpsters have some legitimate gripes is because they can’t find work.
Third is acceptance of the truth that private enterprise is powerful, but it must be regulated and controlled, and it is not the universal economic answer. For many economic needs the most efficient mode is public financing: highways, defense, communications regulation… The prime unaddressed need, of course, is health care. As the only advanced nation without national health care, we spend double what all others pay, and our private insurance industry contributes not one red cent to actual health care. These are indisputable facts. Republicans must stop costing us so much to satisfy their free enterprise fetish.
We have barely recovered from the Great Recession that Obama was faced with on Day 1. Unfortunately, the slow but consistent recovery bypassed too many people, and this must be addressed by finding new ways for people to be employed. Republicans must for a change help this effort, not hinder it.
Some want a guaranteed minimum income, but in my opinion the most important element here is the standard work week. Once it was 72 hours—six 12-hour days including Saturdays. Half a century ago it became 40 hours, which was accomplished without the economic collapse that some predicted. Today, as John Maynard Keynes predicted nearly a century ago, there is no necessity for anyone to work more than about 20 hours. This has come about because of ever-improving efficiency, especially with computers and robots in recent times. The trend will continue. Republicans must help the effort to solve the problem, rather than pretend it’s some bygone year.
Maybe the biggest international problem is our need to prove our machismo by waging pointless wars against small nations. The US has been at war almost constantly since the Revolution, unsuccessfully more often than not. We need to improve the world by quitting that. It would help if some part of the Pentagon budget were switched to something more important, like child welfare.
Climate change is now impossible to deny, with record atmospheric greenhouse gasses, steadily rising temperature, vanishing glaciers, a melting arctic, withering Greenland ice cap, dreadful droughts, massive wildfires, frequent tornados, hurricanes with great flooding, shoreline erosion, and so on. The US has made some attempts to slow these processes, but we are long past the point of no return. All we can do now is hope to ameliorate some of the worst effects and hope we can deal with the rest. Continued Republican denial will cost many lives, in addition to billions of dollars.
There are many other faults that must be corrected before we can call ourselves a modern moral nation. Among these are clawing back the oligarchy-sponsored laws that allow huge corporations to avoid American taxes by setting up an office in some low-tax country and calling it home. Then there are those who ship billions of dollars, legally or not, to offshore places where the only real business is secret banking. If these outrages were ended we would have enough revenue to reform all taxes and live better lives.
Oh yeah, one last thing. If supposedly Christian Repubs want to prove they respect life, they could start with the life that’s already here, for example the 20% of American children who live in poverty and don’t have enough to eat. Everybody agrees that abortion is undesirable. If we want to eliminate it, birth control must be freely available everywhere. Trying to kill Planned Parenthood is nothing less than a cruel policy that will worsen the health of women. I note that a national health care system would make PP redundant and unnecessary.
Republicans must help to make the country what it should be. If they can’t, maybe there really isn’t a Republican Party anymore.