Today, thanks to the GOP, compromise has gone out the window in Washington. In the first two years of the Obama administration, nearly every presidential initiative met with vehement, rancorous and unanimous Republican opposition in the House and the Senate, followed by efforts to delegitimize the results and repeal the policies. The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations. And Republicans in the Senate have abused the confirmation process to block any and every nominee to posts such as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, solely to keep laws that were legitimately enacted from being implemented.It is always dangerous to wax nostalgic about the past. And there is no doubt that we have some heavy handed partisans in our past. But my memory and reading suggests that we always had a pretty good mass of people who, while not motivated by altruism, had at least a goal of good governance.
I don't see that in the modern Republican party. The Democrats, while hardly perfect, worked with Bush when they could. Republicans, on the other hand, refuse to work with Obama, and reject even conservative proposals if they perceive that Obama might get credit. Nothing is more important to these people than defeating Obama--and that includes serving the American people.
What is more amazing to me, however, are those still voting for the GOP. At first, I wrote that off to the conservative lack of compassion toward the poor, and I still see that. Conversation after conversation suggests that my conservative colleagues see the poor primarily as lazy and possibly immoral. They have compassion, but think that most of the poor can, and should, work harder.
But this last round has revealed that it isn't just the very poor. The GOP reviles the working poor too--those who work multiple jobs, but still apply for SNAP benefits to eat. And let's take it just a little further. The GOP is after the safety net, and even the safety net that middle and upper middles look to in their retirement years. If the GOP gets their way, they will reduce Medicare to a voucher that increases only at inflation, leaving the elderly to negotiate for healthcare on the open market on a fixed income with less and less assistance. As I mentioned to one of my friends the other day, middle class Republicans are not only voting to make life harder on the poor, but voting to make their own retirement more painful. They are voting to cut their own throats, and thanking the GOP for the opportunity.
I hope they will wake up, but I am watching people vote out of emotion rather than logic--and emotion is much easier to manipulate. And the GOP can manipulate emotional hatred of Obama (or whoever we throw up there, let's be honest) and distract their voters from the attack on their own interest.