I recently started reading a book titled, “What’s the Matter with Kansas” by Thomas Frank. Frank, a native of Kansas, investigated and questioned how his home state full of rural farmers and a once bedrock of liberalism could become the deeply red state it is today.
As I read Frank’s book, I not only pursued the answer to the question asked in the title, but wondered after the recent election results, “What’s the matter with America?” I wondered how the Republican Party could have such electoral success when the unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent, and Republicans attempted to obstruct all efforts to help the less fortunate.
What was the draw voters saw to the Republican Party in the last election? There weren’t any new ideas, only old ones – attempt to dismantle Social Security, torture terrorists, and the mantra of tax cuts as a panacea for anything and everything. So what was it?
The following questions are not meant to bring about some enlightenment that leads people to vote for the Democratic Party in the next election or criticize conservatism. But if it was conservatism people voted for in the last election, it isn’t what they are going to get.
Conservatism isn’t what the Republican Party represents anymore. Now the party of big business, they represent corporate interest. And that corporatism hides behind family values, and social issues like denying gays and lesbians rights, which gets many conservatives riled up and ready to vote Republican.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle take money from large corporations, and legislation does seem to be up to the highest bidder regardless of who is in charge, but it’s a Republican who always seems to be scrambling to be corporate America’s employee of the month.
Republicans’ accommodations to business don’t end at favorable tax loopholes, or lack of oversight in dangerous industries, or even asking businesses for their corporate wish lists, which is exactly what Republican congressman Darrell Issa of California did last month.
The congressman dispatched letters to 150 companies, trade groups and research organizations asking them to identify federal regulations that are restraining “economic recovery and job growth.”
Companies spend millions of dollars each year complaining to Congress about burdensome laws and regulations, pressing congressman to make oversight more lax and loose. They rarely get invitations.
Representative Issa’s actions show a stark comparison to when Republicans obstructed a bill to create a fund for the medical care for 9/11 responders. So why help large companies, but not heroes? The answer is simple; since they were not the “9/11 Responders Incorporated,” the Republicans had no interest in helping them.
The Republican Party is also able to hide their corporate-sponsored positions behind the ideals of laissez-faire, the idea that government should not intervene in business. Allowing the “invisible hand” of the market to work is one thing, but to allow the “invisible hand” to slap consumers in the face is another.
Another instance of a Republican vying to be corporate America’s employee of the month was Representative Joe Barton of Texas statement during a hearing on the Gulf oil spill, “I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion shakedown.”
The $20 billion shakedown Representative Barton is referring to is the amount Congress decided BP should allot to pay out the claims of damages from the oil spill. And when you look at the top contributors to Representative Barton you will be “shocked” to find out they are in the oil and gas industry.
Representative Barton and Issa may have been elected from districts across the country, but it isn’t Texas or California who they represent, and it isn’t conservatism the Republican Party represents. No matter how they try to pretend allowing businesses to increase profits at any cost to society is capitalism, it isn’t and it isn’t conservatism.
The American people must stop voting for corporate interest and start voting for their own interest.