JAZZMAN CHRONICLES. DISSEMINATE FREELY.
By Jack Random
In the modern era of California politics you can count on two rock solid truisms:
First, in presidential elections the state as a whole is blue. If California is so much as contested, the Republicans will win the White House in a landslide and probably both houses of congress as well.
Second, the great central valley of the golden state is as red as Oklahoma, Arkansas or Tennessee, where many of its residents have roots. The only Democrats who win in the valley are Blue Dogs. Traditionally known as fiscally conservative social Democrats, they are now more or less moderate conservatives across the board. There is no place for them in a Republican Party co-opted by the rightwing Tea Party, so they press on as representatives of the Democratic compromise.
If you want to have a political career in this part of the country you have to bend to the right. That is why it is so foreign to observe the generic Republican campaign in the current election. In all my years I never thought I would ever witness Republicans running in central California as the defenders of Medicare.
The singular hero of both Blue Dog and Republican politicians is Ronald Reagan, who famously attacked Medicare as socialized medicine. Reagan’s charge was not without merit. For those covered by Medicare, the elderly and the disabled, it is an effective government run program that eliminates the need for private insurance. As a presidential candidate, Reagan lacked the political courage to take on the third rail of American politics but at least he did not have the gall to stake his claim as Medicare’s defender.
Not so for today’s Republican politicians. Candidate after candidate approves this message: My Democratic opponent would cut $716 billion from Medicare. I will protect our senior citizens. Vote GOP.
Reagan must have turned over in his grave a few dozen times. Of course, the advertisements, often paid for by anonymous third party donations (read: insurance companies), never use the words Republican or Democrat. To do so would risk reminding even the most casual observer that Medicare is a signature Democratic program and everything that Republicans traditionally abhor. Voting Republican to protect Medicare is like voting for the Ku Klux Klan to uphold civil rights. To believe that Republicans will defend Medicare is to turn everything we know about the major parties on its head.
Recalling that the Grand Old Party was once the party of Lincoln and the Democrats the party of the Jim Crow south, are we witnessing a fundamental change in party identification or a deception so profound it defies explanation?
The truth behind the phantom $716 billion savings is that they will not come from the beneficiaries but from the providers, the hospitals, insurance companies and a subsidized private insurance program known as Medicare Advantage, a program that has not delivered on its promise of cost efficiency. Never mind that every Republican in congress voted for the Ryan plan, which proposes those same savings and would ultimately transform Medicare into a voucher program.
If you actually believe that today’s Republican Party will stand up for the social safety net (Medicare, Social Security, job training, unemployment benefits, food stamps, affordable housing) and against the rising tide of austerity measures, you’ve been living on another planet for better than half a century. More than anything else, Medicare and Social Security define the major American parties. Democrats are philosophically committed to defending and protecting these social programs while Republicans are philosophically committed to their demise.
Those who have lived on the solid ground of earth know that the only change we have witnessed in the Republican Party is that it has turned hard right and is even more determined to eliminate social programs. Their only concession to electoral politics is that they are willing to spare today’s elderly voters as long as they agree to sell out their children and grandchildren.
What then can we make of this great Republican deception? If indeed the party operatives believe it necessary to run on a fundamental lie, a lie in direct conflict with their very foundations, even in districts firmly grounded in conservative politics, then the party must be in far greater danger than any of the polls have suggested.
I conclude that the Grand Old Party’s difficulties are infinitely greater than the weakness of their presidential candidate. I conclude that a clear majority of the electorate is on the verge of rejecting the Republican brand and the conservative philosophy. I conclude that the majority of our citizens are finally awakening to the betrayal of an economic theory that under the cover of freedom is designed to press the working people down while enriching the elite.
Based on these conclusions, I predict a massive Democratic landslide in November, returning Obama to the White House, building a stronger majority in the Senate and taking back majority control in the House of Representatives.
If my prediction comes to fruition, we will then see if the Democrats can deliver on the largely unspoken promise to rebuild a broken economy from the ground up. We will see if Fair Trade will replace Free Trade as the American standard. We will see if the Democrats are indeed the party of the working people or just pretenders trying to survive the next electoral cycle. We will see if corporate money can be contained if not eliminated from the electoral process. We will see if America has the commitment to take the lead in building a green economy.
We will see if our political institutions are capable of breaking the chains of corporate dominance, putting people back to work with decent jobs at decent pay, rebuilding the middle class, protecting the rights of labor, rejecting war as a means of settling international conflict and finally delivering a government for, by and of the people.
JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE BEEN POSTED ON NUMEROUS CITES OF THE WORLDWIDE WEB, INCLUDING THE ALBION MONITOR, BELLACIAO, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH, DISSIDENT VOICE, THE NATIONAL FREE PRESS, GLOBAL FREE PRESS AND PACIFIC FREE PRESS. SEE WWW.JAZZMANCHRONICLES.BLOGSPOT.COM.