Let the world change you... and you can change the world

The Party Of “Me”

In watching this week’s hysterical response to the health care reform legislation by the Republican Party, it occurs to me that the old defining line of liberals vs. conservatives is no longer relevant.  Conservatives would have you believe that this legislation is extreme liberalism at it’s worse, many equating it to the dreaded socialism.  But the reality is that what ended up being passed by Congress very closely resembles the proposals of the Republican Party back during the Clinton administration, and in fact is very similar to the Massachusetts plan which was endorsed by then Governor and now Republican Presidential Candidate-Wanna-Be Mitt Romney.  Indeed, that stalwart Republican Richard Nixon proposed a plan back in 1974 that looked a lot like what ended up being passed by the Democrats.  So this whole idea that the bill is anywhere close to being “liberal” is hogwash at face value.

It seems to me that there was a time, back 30 years ago, when liberal-conservative differences had to do with different ways of achieving the same ends.  Ultimately, both Republicans and Democrats wanted what was best for the country, what was best for all Americans, and what would continue to make America a better place for future generations.  But somewhere along the line, the Republican Party lost interest in this idea of the “common good” and started catering strictly to the selfish and the greedy who cared not a damn about anything other than their own personal needs.  The attitude was “I’m happy with my health care so there’s no need to change things at all — if you don’t have health care that’s your problem, not mine”.  It’s the same with climate change legislation — it might (and that’s even doubtful) hinder today’s profits in order to insure a better America in the future, so to hell with it, it’s just another “socialist plot”.  I want my money and I want it now.  If climate change does turn out to be a major issue for future generations, then that’s their problem, not ours.  And so it goes with every major issue the country faces today — for today’s Republicans, unless it directly benefits them today, they aren’t going to support it.

In retrospect, I think you can trace all this back to Ronald Reagan in 1980 when his campaign motto was “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  Notice the adjective “you” — it wasn’t “are WE as a nation better off”, it was strictly a personal perspective.  That’s when the Republican Party stopped caring about the country as a whole, and started catering to select groups of self-centered people — the greedy rich who care only about their personal wealth, the religious right who care only about forcing their religious values on everyone, and the racists and bigots who care only about making sure that non-whites are kept in their place.  And so the party has evolved into a coalition of two-year olds who can think of no one but themselves, and anytime they don’t get exactly what they want all they can do is throw temper tantrums like we saw last week.