There was a time when the two-party system worked. Democrats and Republicans have always had conflicting ideas but they seemingly shared a common purpose: the betterment of the country. They just had different means for achieving similar ends. Similar goals, different strategies. But look now at the things Republicans have done in recent history and explain to me how any of these actions improved the nation. While there were hundreds of examples to pick from, I’m spotlighting four of them today.
Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (2006)
This international treaty was designed to protect the rights of the disabled. It was signed by even countries like Iran and China. Veterans in wheelchairs went to D.C. and encouraged Congress to do the same. It even had the support of former Republican President George H.W. Bush. So what happened? Enter Former Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who gathered signatures from fellow Republicans that pledged to oppose the treaty. Why? He called the treaty a “direct assault” because he feared it would interfere with a parent’s right to home-school their kids. Make sense? No? Good, then we’re on the same page here. The treaty failed to be ratified in the United States.
Watch the Republicans make their pathetic case for opposing the CRPD (if it doesn’t put you to sleep):
James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (2010)
This bill was designed to cover the medical expenses of 9-11 first responders. Firemen, police officers, regular citizens… anyone that developed an illness due to the 9-11 attacks which stood at roughly 33,000 people. Over 50 types of cancers were linked to toxins from the debris of the towers from the terrorist attack of 2001. Incredibly, this bill was obstructed by the Republican Party for years due to concerns over the cost and even accusations that some 9-11 responders were lying, claiming not all of their illnesses were related to 9-11. Jon Stewart publically shamed them on The Daily Show by bringing on 4 of those first-responders to speak their minds. Watch it here.
The Act finally passed in 2010 shortly after. Still, the Republicans made the heroes of 9-11 suffer for nearly a decade before they agreed to do the right and morally obvious thing. And it didn’t end there.
When the Zadroga Act was due to expire in 2015, Republican House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even allow the matter to be brought up for a vote for renewal. So much for democracy, eh? He briefly appeared to yield but then slipped the measure out of a major must-pass Highway Bill at the last minute. Why?
Once again, Jon Stewart stepped up and shamed them to their faces, going to D.C. along with a handful of 9-11 responders to confront Republican Congressmen.
He also did a guest-appearance on The Daily Show (which he’d left) and brought back his panel of 4 responders to speak again. Except only one showed up because the others were either too ill or had died. I wonder if they would have been healthier if the Zadroga Act had passed in, gee, I dunno… 2001? 2002? Sadly it took a comedian to get the Republicans to finally sign-off. Twice. To provide health care for victims of 9-11.
The New START Treaty (2010)
The original START Treaty was an agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to mutually reduce the number of nuclear warheads. It was first proposed by Ronald Reagan, signed in 1991 and enacted in 1994. It managed to remove 80% of all nuclear weapons that existed at the time in both nations, one of the few truly positive contributions Reagan made during his Presidency. It expired in 2009.
A new treaty was designed to continue arms reductions by 30% through 2021, simply nicknamed New START. In order for it to pass it needed to be ratified by at least 67 of our 100 Senators. Several Republicans spoke out against it, most notably Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Kit Bond (R-MO). While this treaty was eventually ratified, there was major initial pushback from the Republicans who even tried to use it as a bargaining chip to secure an extension of the Bush era tax cuts. Just to be clear, the Republicans thought it was a good idea to block the disarmament of nuclear weapons to push for tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy. Lack of priorities? You could say that. When the Senate finally ratified the treaty 26 voted in opposition. All were Republicans. Mitt Romney even called it Obama’s “worst foreign policy decision” before going on to become the Republican nominee for President in 2012. Terrifying.
You can read Mitt’s op-ed for yourself right here.
New START Repealing the Estate Tax (2015)
What is the estate tax? Basically it’s a property tax when a very large property of a deceased person is transferred to heirs. It only applies if the deceased individual’s property exceeds a value of $5.43 million or $10.86 million if shared by a couple. Any property valued below these levels are NOT impacted by the estate tax. So just to be clear, this is something that only affects the very wealthy. To be precise, 99.8% of estate do not have to pay this tax. There are also plenty of loopholes to avoid part or all of the tax even when it applies. And that’s what makes this issue so incredibly egregious. All but three Republicans voted in the House to repeal it, which would increase the deficit tax by $269 billion over a decade. That’s right, this tax cut for the 0.2% wealthiest Americans adds over a quarter of a trillion dollars to the nation’s debt. But aren’t the Republicans always claiming to fiscal conservatives, claiming everything costs too much? The initial Zadroga Act that they fought so hard to stop was only $4.3 billion by comparison.
Sick yet? You should be.
How has the Republican Party devolved into such a callous, apathetic institution? Because they’re owned, bought, and paid for by the wealthy elites. There isn’t anything in it for them except for job security. Our system, especially in the wake of the disastrous Citizen’s United decision, has allowed limitless floods of money pour into our political process. Do these politicians want to get re-elected? Of course. But they need money. Are regular people going to give it to them? No, that would require actually representing the will of the middle class. Why appease the masses when you can get all the money your campaign needs from just a handful of corporations? Right? Mathematically it makes sense. Keep the media feeding us propaganda and hiding the real story behind the stories, keep slashing funding for education to dumb down the people, and shout USA USA USA!! Accomplish all that and you can be a member of Congress.
Except sellouts don’t have morals.
So how do we reverse all this? Well, 62 people now have half the global wealth and their influence is far greater than the voting populace. Either the wealthy puppeteers behind the curtain develop a conscience and free themselves voluntarily of power… or we take it back. And that’s what I think will be necessary in the end. We can’t just pass new laws if the politician’s are chosen by the very people we need to reign in. Hell, Citigroup directly wrote part of a bank reform bill! Are you kidding me?
Read all about that here.
Electing Bernie Sander’s would be the first sign that the American people have woken up just enough to band together, ignore the media influences that fuel the rigged system and somehow cut through all the other bullshit to actually elect a President with integrity. Someone that isn’t beholden to the rich, that isn’t a puppet, that doesn’t care about the Big Banks or Big Oil or Big Phrama… a man that actually cares. In this climate, that likely won’t be enough to really make a significant change. But it’s a start.
If that much can be accomplished, drastic measures will still be need to affect all the changes we need to unravel the rigging and expose every puppet and every string. We’re going to need the revolution he talks about, but not just a political one. Change won’t just happen because of the voting booth especially with one as compromised as ours. It will happen when the handful of pricks that keep screwing the world over and over and over again are taken down.
We need to fully wake up and acknowledge that the Republican Party really is the American Taliban, have committed treasonous acts, and should be prosecuted as such. And let that be a warning to the Democratic Party, which is also becoming compromised. Enough with the passivity and sighs and mere shaking of heads. Put these obstructionist, damaging minions of the elite away. Better yet, put them in Gitmo and waterboard their asses since they’ve openly supported the use of both! Call it poetic justice, call it whatever you want… but let’s get it done. One way or another.
That’s far more mercy than they deserve.