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Teapublican Conservatism

 

There are those who remain a microcosm of a larger national culture that thrives on false principals rooted in fear-based, emotional conjecture. In spite of the evidence and facts that contradict their positions they remain oblivious to reasoned debate and critical thinking. This is a culture that routinely expresses tangential thinking, unfounded conspiracies and irrational fears centered on government takeovers and Muslim ties to the White House. This same demographic suggest Iraq had connections to 9/11, AIDS is Gods punishment, creationism is valid science and Obama is a Muslim. This baseless thinking has reached radical levels; U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Terry Lakin recently refused orders to Afghanistan because he believes Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

Attempting to engage in a rational dialog with individuals such as Mr. Lakin, who toss around words like socialism and fascism without any idea of their meaning and who subscribe to the theory of trickle down economics, the Bush tax cuts and Wall Street deregulation as good economic policy,
you quickly find yourself in a circular conversation with individuals who pride themselves on anti-intellectualism and are mired in cognitive dissonance.
The result is bumper sticker politics and sound bite solutions from a group that abhors moderation and remains unwilling to discern opinion from fact, evidence from conjecture and data from beliefs. They struggle with the concepts of truth and logic and the complexities of delusion versus fact.

This is a group that wants to fundamentally change our society and move us forward to the late nineteenth century. They propose to alter the balance of the Supreme Court, eliminate Medicare, privatize Social Security, increase defense spending, repeal healthcare, privatize student loans, trample women’s rights, continue big oil subsidies, corporate welfare and ultimately pursue George Bush’s third term.

Conservatives, Healthcare and Moderation

 

With regards to ideology, the conservatives have yet to provide solutions, worse, the Affordable Healthcare Act was fundamentally taken right out of the conservative playbook twenty years ago…. a combination of public and private initiatives including mandates.

Unfortunately, conservatives continue to beat the entitlement drum in large part against Medicare, unfortunately the Medicare cost issue is a smaller part of a larger problem…….lack of universal healthcare.
We simply cannot address 20% of the problem (Medicare) without addressing 80% of the underlying issue (lack of universal healthcare)

Although there remains fundamental disagreement with government’s role in healthcare, I find it hard to dismiss the obvious benefits and costs savings associated with universal healthcare. Once you realize that ideology is the only barrier its becomes harder to deny that its cheaper, with better outcomes, and a fairer system. Ultimately it just makes good fiscal sense.

We have somehow come to consider moderation and moderates as a liability. We have somehow convinced ourselves that taking care of our environment is a bad thing. We substituted basic American virtues like taking care of the poor, the sick and the elderly as handouts. We have managed to confuse the definitions between capitalism and democracy and impulsively choose war before diplomacy.
This is the problem I have with ultra-conservatives like the tea party; everything is an absolute with no room for any moderation. There are no shades of gray in the tea party world, just black and white and that by default is extremism, like it or not.

What is typically aligned with extremism unfortunately is hypocritical ideology. For instance recent studies reveled that 73% of self-proclaimed tea party members disagree with cuts to the Medicare program……
There is a very real disconnect associated with this extremism.

Caring for those individuals amongst us who remain less fortunate:
The poor, elderly, incarcerated and the mentally ill and ensuring that every one of our citizens is offered, not a handout but a leg up, is not a measure of weakness but a measure of a nations strength.

American Guns

 

 

The crowded field of mass shootings has once again brought the issue of gun safety to national attention. Like most controversial issues, this debate lacks a measured response and remains laden with emotional rhetoric.

I do not own a handgun, don’t belong to the NRA, not a member of a radical anti-government militia group and don’t subscribe to the doomsday prophecies. Intrestingly, when reviewing the facts of guns in America, they note the Swiss, Finns and New Zealanders all own guns at the same rate as Americans.

However, the Swiss murder rate is 40% lower than Germany, which has stricter anti-gun ownership laws. Israel with a higher gun ownership rate than the U.S. has a murder rate lower than even Canada. In a country like Switzerland, with universal self-protection laws, criminal attacks are virtually non-existent. Conversely, Britain’s strict anti-gun control laws produce much lower rates of gun violence, however the number of home invasions remain alarmingly higher. The rates of robbery and assaults in the U.S. remain consistent with those in other developed countries with lower levels of gun ownership.

Here are a few additional statistics:

• There are currently 300 million guns in America.

• Every year four million new guns enter the market and a new handgun is produced every 20 seconds

• Less than 2% of crimes are committed by a legal gun owner, in fact almost all of the crimes committed with a firearm in this country are done so by individuals who are already restricted from legal possession of a firearm due to age, criminal history or mental health.

• Criminals obtain 34% of their handguns from burglaries and robberies. 37% from the black market, therefore 71% are immune to gun control laws

• Gun deaths average 32,000 annually, when extracting suicides and gang violence the number drops closer to 2,000 and when further extracting accidental and unjustified shootings that number is reduced to less than 1% of gun related deaths every year attributed to shootings involving self defense.

• Nationally there are currently eight million state-issued concealed carry permits holders

• Legal gun owners avert a crime 1.4 million times annually with legal gun use and 98% of the time without firing the weapon.

• About 40% of all legal gun sales take place at gun shows or between private sellers

• Less than one percent of crimes are committed with an assault weapon.

Just as legal gun owners are not victim creators, there are limitations to the First amendment and the same holds true regarding the Second amendment. The most obvious limitations involve closing the loopholes in trade shows and private gun sales by expanding background checks. Secondly, drum-style magazines which can hold up to a hundred rounds and have no reasonable civilian purpose can be restricted without infringing on second amendment rights. Another common sense approach is to enforce the twenty thousand gun laws already on the books.
To further support these measures America needs to get serious about the culture of violence that permeates our society and finally, we must begin to address the limited and convoluted patchwork of mental health treatment.

The NRA has a significant opportunity for leadership in shaping this debate; unfortunately they appear more interested in protecting the sales and profits of national gun retailers than providing common sense leadership and moderate gun control measures intended to protect their membership and the Second Amendment.

Failed Tepublican Ideology

 

Eight weeks post election and Republicans remain genuinely perplexed by the decisive and sweeping victory in the swing states, the electoral college and the popular vote.
In spite of voter suppression, lies, cynicism, extremism and unqualified candidates, the GOP worked overtime to run a failed campaign and abandon moderation.

Republicans continue to work overtime on their failed ideology of 

anti-intellectualism, anti-science and fear. From the manufactured issues of birth certificates to Benghazi, moderate Republicans remain marginalized and unwilling to silence their own sideshow of social dropouts, hypocrites, flip-floppers and anti-government extremist which have separated their constituents from reality.

In their quest to embrace populism, the Republicans have created their very own Frankenstein in the tea party, which has hijacked the GOP and now unable to escape from the empty tri-corner rhetoric and know nothing policies, moderate Republicans remain entangled and conflicted with extremists who pride themselves on anti-intellectualism and remain mired in cognitive dissonance. The result is bumper sticker politics and sound bite solutions from a group that abhors moderation and unwilling to discern opinion from fact, evidence from conjecture and data from beliefs.

The same dumbed-down conservatism that lost the Republicans the popular vote the last six cycles continues uninterrupted with daily euphuisms of freedom and independence with rhetoric like: “Government plans to take more money from the evil 1% and funnel it into programs that perpetuate personal dependency” Further statements like: “The election was lost because Obama promised free stuff” continues to call attention to their lack of imagination and willful ignorance.

Everyone knows the election results had absolutely nothing to do with Romney’s lack of policy or his promise to protect us from guys like himself. Perhaps only now will the Tea Party obstructionist begin to fade into obscurity or move out of the way to allow moderate main street republicans to once again govern and embrace America’s reality and diversity. In the end the party that enlarges our liberty tends to win the argument.

Obama Leadership

 

Conservatives ask what characteristics describe President Obamas’ leadership and what accomplishments qualified him for reelection. In spite of an opposition party bent on obstruction at any price and throwing around inflammatory rhetoric like death panels, invasion of privacy and the boogey-man in the closet “socialism” his most prominent attributes include; confidence, assertiveness, congeniality, ambition, charisma, determination, vision, political courage, moderation, prudence and a deliberative, pragmatic idealism.

By any measure, the Obama administration has an impressive list of accomplishments starting with:
Steering the country out of an economic depression, rescued the auto industry, enacted the Affordable Care Act-which expanded health insurance to thirty million people and has already resulted in costs declining for the first time in years. By the end of this decade 95% of Americans will have health insurance and can no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions or lifetime caps on coverage. The Obama administration has enacted credit card protections which mandates companies must include information telling us how long it will take to pay off our debt with minimum payments, it bans the abusive practices of jacking up rates without warning, shuffling due dates and adding a mountain of fees. It also places restrictions on the practice of luring college kids into mountains of credit card debt. The success of the seven hundred billion dollar federal stimulus program breaks down in round numbers to; $250 billion towards tax cuts, which we have all benefited from, another $250 billion invested in infrastructure towards badly neglected roads, bridges and highways and another $250 billion towards entitlement programs to assist the worse of families affected by the economic meltdown. In the last four years the administration expanded subsidies for education-an investment we have not seen in over thirty years. We have seen the largest investments in alternative clean energy in our nations history and delivered record tax cuts to the middle class, recovered a profit from the AIG bailout, enacted new Wall Street regulations and witnessed the greatest increase in wilderness protection in over a decade and the end to don’t ask, don’t tell.

Even as he was bogged down in budget fights with the Tea Party-controlled GOP House, Obama still managed the most sweeping overhaul of food safety laws in more than seventy years. Enacted the Lilly Ledbetter act, immigration policies, removed restrictions on stem cell research, presided over 30 straight months of job growth and appointed two women to the supreme court, one being the first Latina justice.

More impressively, on foreign policy he ended the war in Iraq, began the drawdown in Afghanistan, helped to oust Gaddafi in Libya, orchestrated new military and commercial alliances as leverage against China, tightened sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and signed the new START treaty with Russia, and shifted counterterrorism strategies to target Osama bin Laden and then ordered the risky raid that killed him.

All of which suggest that character and leadership is not shaped by a presidency, it simply reveals them.

The Obama Accomplishments

 

Conservatives ask what characteristics describe President Obamas’ leadership and what accomplishments qualify him for reelection.
The most prominent attributes associated with his leadership include; confidence, assertiveness, congeniality, ambition, charisma, determination, vision, political courage, moderation, prudence and a deliberative, pragmatic idealism.

By any measure, the Obama administration has an impressive list of accomplishments starting with: steering the country out of an economic depression, the Affordable Care Act which expanded health insurance to thirty million people and has already resulted in costs declining for the first time in years, rescued the auto industry, recovered a profit from the AIG bailout, new Wall Street regulations, a tough new set of consumer protections on the credit card industry. The greatest increase in wilderness protection in fifteen years, a revolutionary reform to student aid and the end to don’t ask, don’t tell. Even as he was bogged down in budget fights with the Tea Party-controlled GOP House, Obama still managed the most sweeping overhaul of food safety laws in more than seventy years. Enacted the Lilly Ledbetter act, immigration policies, middle-class tax cuts, removed restrictions on stem cell research, presided over 29 straight months of job growth and appointed two women to the supreme court, one being the first Latina justice.

More impressively, on foreign policy he ended the war in Iraq, began the drawdown in Afghanistan, helped to oust Gaddafi in Libya, orchestrated new military and commercial alliances as a hedge against China, tightened sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program and signed the new START treaty with Russia, and lets not forget he shifted counterterrorism strategies to target Osama bin Laden and then ordered the risky raid that killed him.

All of which suggest that character and leadership is not shaped by the presidency, it simply reveals them.

Modern Conservatism

 

Today’s conservatives feel threatened by the socialist factions in the world, deceived by the moderate conservatives in their government and obsess about birth certificates. They protest against sound banking practices, equitable taxation and national health care and propose fundamental change to Medicare in spite of the fact we cannot address 20% of the problem (Medicare) without addressing 80% of the underlying issue (lack of universal healthcare)

The Tea party is the Republicans very own Frankenstein, they consider deliberation and moderates a liability and perceive every issue as an absolute with no shades of gray, just black and white. Extremists who’ve somehow convinced themselves that taking care of our environment is a bad thing. Defining basic American virtues like taking care of the poor, the sick and the elderly as handouts and managing to blur the definitions of capitalism and democracy.

There was a time when we stood for what was right, when we waged war on poverty not on poor people. We never beat our chest; we explored the universe, cured diseases, created the world’s greatest economy and acted like men. We aspired to intelligence-we didn’t belittle it and it didn’t make us feel inferior.
We were able to be all these things because we were informed and led by men of character with a world vision and purpose we intuitively understood and trusted.

Republicans have resigned themselves to a fringe group like the Tea party and settled on a hollow candidate like Romney.

A presidential nominee who refuses to discuss his biggest accomplishment as Governor-healthcare reform, his private sector business at Bain Capital, his religion, his taxes or details of his economic plan. Romney and to a greater extent, Republicans have pitched this race to the bottom like a used car salesmen at the end of the month.

Conservative Misconceptions

Romney’s success: It’s never been about his success, it is about orchestrating leveraged buyouts using toxic financial instruments and in many cases outsourcing jobs or replacing them with low wage positions with little or no healthcare.

Romney’s wealth: It’s never been about his wealth, it is about his off-shore tax shelters, Cayman Island shell companies and Swiss bank accounts. Although not illegal, as a presidential candidate it is ……. odd.

Taxes: It’s never been about the dollar amount Romney pays, it is about the ratio of taxes paid to income earned.
The fact that Romney pays 13% federal taxes and a fireman, teacher or nurse pays 28% is inequitable.

Paul Ryan: It’s never been about his budget; it is about the streaming contradictions.
He is a career politician with no business experience who happened to vote for every unfunded Bush initiative including the bailout and the stimulus bill.

Debt/Budget: It’s never been solely about entitlements: slashing education, Medicare, poverty and healthcare programs, it is about a balanced approach, which includes defense spending, eliminating the bush tax cuts and returning to Clinton era marginal tax rates.

Business experience: Conservatives believe Romney’s calling card to the White House is his business experience, Wall Street deregulation and trickle down economics. However, if business acumen and eliminating financial oversight were the sole indicators of effective governance we should be swimming in wealth and prosperity following eight years of George Bush, who had significant business experience, subscribed to the theory of trickle down economics and provided little Wall street oversight. Unfortunately, that combination left the country in shambles and near economic collapse, which cost the US economy eleven trillion dollars and 8.5 million jobs.

A vote for Romney would be a wholesale surrender of the American middle class.

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