By: Basil Wilson
Republican Party faithful will descend on Tampa, the last week in August, 2012 to officially nominate the Romney-Ryan Presidential ticket and officially begin the quest of re-capturing the White House. From 2008, the White House has been occupied by a black man and the Republican faithful will work to evict Barack Obama from occupying the pinnacle of power in America’s democracy.
For some decades, even moreso since the election of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has been searching for the American Godot. That hunger to return to a quintessential America was manifested in the 2010 election when the Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives and narrowed the margin of control in the United States Senate. That decision by the American electorate brought the entire governmental apparatus to a screeching halt. The Legislative split and the control of the Executive Branch by the Democratic Party led to an impasse that will not be broken in the upcoming 2012 election.
Excessive polarization is damaging to the democratic process in a system dominated by two parties where none is able to exercise hegemony. There was a time when Republicans and Democrats were able to find common ground. But the Republican Party in which moderates were able to exercise some influence has been transformed. Overrun by right wing zealots, the moderates have conceded without putting up much resistance. Those voices have been silenced by the new cacophony of the strident right.
As America becomes increasingly diverse, the Republican Party has become increasingly homogenous. The Party is now basically the refuge of white males frightened by the pluralistic nature of contemporary America. There are still within the Party a few token blacks and a few token Hispanics who essentially function outside of history. The anti-government ideology is unappealing to American minorities and to white women, particularly those who are not wedded to privilege.
One gets a sense of the newly constituted Republican Party’s capacity to govern after the 2010 election. Since taking over the House of Representatives, the Republican Party has fixated its legislative agenda on a woman’s womb. Todd Akin, the Republican Missouri Senatorial candidate is not an aberration but reflects the views of the new Party on abortion. That position is further verified in the Republican Party’s Platform for 2012. There is no allowance for abortion even in the case of rape or incest. This pre-occupation with life in the womb is followed by social Darwinism stance after birth.
Following the dictat of the Tea Party Movement, Republican adherents elected in 2010 focused on cutting government spending and deficits after sanctioning exponential increase of deficits occurred during the George Bush administration. Wars were waged in Iraq and Afghanistan and an expansion of prescription drugs for Medicare recipients was passed with no provision made to pay for those additional budget expenditures. All this ballooning of the federal deficit took place when the Bush Republicans were in charge.
What is paradoxical about the new right wing zealotry of the Republican Party is its populist basis yet billionaires have financed the Tea Party movement. The Romney-Ryan ticket has captured the imagination of folks whose class interests are not served by the economic policies that are being advocated. The economic policies of the Romney-Ryan ticket are to further reduce capital gains tax and the income tax of the wealthy. The presumption is that lowering tax rates will promote economic growth and reduce the $16 trillion deficit. Such a policy is a return to Bushism and would invariably exacerbate the deficit.
The Ryan Budget that was passed in the House in 2012 would remake America. Already, the data on the distribution of income clearly demonstrates the increasing inequality of income and wealth accumulation in America. Incomes would rise for the very wealthy and the standard of living of the middle class and the working poor would continue to deteriorate.
These facts are evident and the question is why in a democratic society the Republican Party that represents the one-percenters has remained a potent electoral force? Before and after the Civil War, the white poor have been blinded by race and sought white privilege. Middle class America and working class America do not have a developed sense of class. In the 2012 election, race and class interest come together. African-Americans and Latinos understand the significance of race and class in America. A segment of the white working class Americans are still clinging to white privilege in an age of greed and globalization where their interest has been obliterated.
Consensus has given way to hardened dissensus in the American bodypolitic. One should not cast blame on a paralyzed Congress but on a white electorate that is essentially confused. There is nothing in this Presidential cycle that shows the American electorate becoming more sophisticated. The dumbing down of discourse in the Republican Party has forced intellectuals like David Frum and William Krystal to critique the ignoramuses who have seized the ship of state. America has stumbled into a quicksand of political paralysis from which there is no easy exit.