"Hate & Fear" or "Liberty & Prosperity"?
The GOP has planted their flag deeply into the soil of fear and hate, right up to and including a call to repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - this year we must vote as if our future depends upon it
The Texas GOP’s state party meeting last week gave America a clear insight into Republican thinking going into this year’s election and the 2024 presidential race. They’ve planted their flag deeply into the soil of violence, fear, white supremacy, and hate right up to and including a call to repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Democratic candidates across the nation, on the other hand, show that party is leaving behind the neoliberalism of Clinton and Obama and moving forward with a futuristic “Freedom Agenda.”
(They should brand it as such, taking a lesson from Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract With America” strategy that put Republicans solidly in charge of the House for the first time since the Republican Great Depression.)
The GOP “Hate and Fear Agenda” is straightforward: Republicans and GOP media like Fox tell their voters to fear:
*LGBTQ people, who the Texas Republicans say have “chosen” an “abnormal lifestyle.”
*Immigrants from anywhere except Europe.
*Atheists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and non-evangelical Christians.
*Women who want to control their own bodies or demand equal rights.
*Books that talk about racism, sexism, or the true racial history of America.
*Labor leaders and their unions.
*Taxes above 3% on billionaires.
*Free and fair elections where every citizen can participate.
*Journalists, teachers, and the League of Women Voters.
*Laws that might keep assault weapons out of the hands of terrorists.
*Public schools and unionized schoolteachers.
*Science, from pandemics to global warming to electric vehicles.
The Democratic Party’s agenda is equally straightforward: Civil and economic rights lay the foundation for expanded freedom. Which is why Democrats proclaim that liberty requires people have:
*Nutritious and affordable food.
*Decent housing and a safe place to live.
*A living wage that can support a family.
*Economic security in retirement and old age.
*Healthcare that doesn’t bankrupt you.
*Equal rights, both political and economic, regardless of gender, race, or religion.
*Debt-free college and trade school.
*Quality public schools for all children.
*News and information free of bias or manipulation by algorithms.
*Universal access to voting for all citizens of voting age.
*Family planning healthcare including abortion access.
*A planet that’s no longer in danger of climate chaos.
*Opportunity to start small businesses without destruction by monopolies.
*The freedom to live your life without fear of getting shot.
In Congress and state houses across the nation Republicans push laws to put more guns on the streets, cut worker’s ability to unionize, strip low-income working people of access to Medicaid, protect monopolies, shut down programs supplying food and housing, cut taxes on the morbidly rich, privatize our schools and military, ship our jobs overseas, and lock students into loans they can never legally escape.
Republicans promote their fear and hate agenda with daily doses of faux outrage served up to them by a multi-billion-dollar media machine including over 1500 rightwing radio stations (300 or so in Spanish); three “conservative” TV networks; the nation’s largest network of local TV stations; thousands of websites, many pretending to be local news; and massive efforts (often coordinated with Russian troll farms) to manipulate social media.
Democrats, on the other hand, have a century of legislative accomplishments and efforts that highlight their commitment to their Freedom Agenda.
They include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, free public schools, Pell Grants and other higher education support, food and nutrition programs, housing subsidies, the Wagner Act legalizing unions, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, two GI Bills, creating agencies to insure clean air and water, Covid vaccination, and support for democracies around the world.
It's no coincidence that the (Red) states with the lowest taxes, most poorly funded schools, lowest pay scales, and who lack access to Medicaid are also those with highest levels of gun deaths, STDs, teenage pregnancies, deadly police encounters, barriers to voting, Covid, divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, drug addiction, and political corruption.
It’s similarly no coincidence that the (Blue) states with higher taxes, better schools, livable wages, and widespread access to medical care have the highest per-worker productivity, the most inventions and new business formation, the best economies, the most well-educated workforces, the safest streets, and the highest levels of life satisfaction.
Today we face a stark choice.
Will hate and fear win like they did in Hungary, Russia, and the Philippines? Or will hope and prosperity flower, as will happen if we get two more Democratic senators and can thus pass voting rights and Build Back Better legislation?
Are we going to follow the Republican Party’s 40-year trajectory of gutting the middle class and enriching the top 1 percent until we resemble a banana republic and “freedom” is a luxury only enjoyed by the morbidly rich?
Or are we going to join the free world and embrace straightforward quality-of-life solutions pioneered by Europe and Canada like a national healthcare system, quality free public education including college, fair taxation, and a unionized workforce?
It should be a simple choice to make, but this is a country that's been under assault by rightwing billionaires and foreign oligarchs ever since the Supreme Court legalized political bribery and kicked off the 40-year torture we call the “Reagan Revolution.”
To further complicate things, only about half of Americans typically bother to make that choice in a midterm election. This year we must vote as if our future depends on it. Because it does.