Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Republicans, Democrats, and the Alien Problem

If I had to boil down the principles for which the Republican party stands, they would be have to be Money, Power, and Punishment.

1) Amassing money for themselves or their friends through privatization, eminent domain, and the legalized chicanery of the free market is a quasi-religious endeavor; the plutocracy is sacrosanct, as the Roberts court is proving. One can never have enough of it, except for the poor, in which case there's really never enough, so they won't be getting any.

2) Power is so important that, despite decades of sneering at government, they just can't stop running for office and schmoozing with those who wield it. This is why, despite all the pandering to the lowest common denominator amongst their constituents, they can always be counted on to vote on behalf of those who can buy their ear when roll call time comes. This is also why the religious right aligns with them, seeking to force a particular creed onto the nation, which is for them ultimate power.

3) And since they believe that human beings are essentially bad and mostly irredeemable, punishing those who have neither of the first two qualities by expanding the criminal code, criminalizing petty or poverty-driven behavior, and dehumanizing the penal system, are the most satisfyingly self-righteous ways for them to turn fear-mongering into another stint in the belly of the damnable government beast.

As for the Democrats, well, they come off looking even worse. They are certainly as venal and power-hungry as the Republicans; they've proven that over and over. But what makes them even worse is that they parade around waving their humanitarian banners as thought they really give a shit about the have-nots, and then, in a remarkable collapse of backbone, sell them down the river every time a reactionary yells "liberty!". One really has a difficult time telling them apart anymore, as Gore Vidal repeatedly warned:
"...the United States has only one party—-the property party. It’s the party of big corporations, the party of money. It has two right wings; one is Democrat and the other is Republican."
To their credit, Dems find the totalitarianism of Republicans, with their demands for compliance with the party line, anathema. But they are far too cowardly for my taste, with no real statecraft to allow them to distinguish between when compromise is needed and when it needs to be left in the dirt. It's as though, despite their humane platform, the Democratic party is beset by an alien hand, one that keeps hitting them over the head with dinner plates:

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