Political Bets

Double Down Bad BetSeveral times I have made the point that Republicans have over-reached their election mandate; making the same mistake Democrats did in 2008. Both parties have misread the mood of the public and continue to get distracted by their more extreme bases. In so many ways, Democrats handed the 2010 election to Republicans and now the Republicans appear to be handing it back to the Democrats. Of course we are 18 months away from the 2012 elections so events could change the election landscape but at this point in time, Republicans are grossly out of step with the electorate.

There are so many examples that it is difficult to know where to start. But since Gingrich is currently the falling star, let us start with him. He, unlike most lawmakers, correctly read the mood of the country over Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to decimate Medicare. It is radical right-wing social engineering and poll after poll has shown that the public rejects Ryan’s plan. But Gingrich was so fiercely attacked by the right that he has now disavowed his astute statements, making him, and his party, look foolish and out of touch. He claims he was “set-up” by Meet The Press even though it was his 35th appearance on the show! But, more foolishly, Republicans have made support for radical reform of Medicare the litmus test for Republican candidates. They have doubled down on a losing bet.

No one in this country lacks access to health care. The question is who pays for it and under the current system, taxpayers have to pony up to pay for all of the people who do not pay for themselves. The Affordable Health Care Act requires everybody to accept personal responsibility for their own health care and not force other taxpayers to support them. That is a basic Republican policy that they have now abandoned. The only other alternative is to pass legislation that allows emergency rooms to deny treatment to anyone who cannot pay their bill. Which would you rather have? The Republicans made a huge misjudgment in voting to uphold Ryan’s radical budget, even when they knew it was not going to go anywhere. They took a symbolic vote that squarely places them in the radical category.

Then there is the national debt. They have made a political calculation that pushing the nation into default is not such a bad thing. Their goal is to totally dismantle the social fabric of this country by holding the debt hostage. They are not looking for a balance between reduced spending and providing sufficient social programs to prevent a social meltdown. In fact, they have turned upon the citizenry; berating the unemployed, attacking working families, turning their backs on low-income people and seniors, deserting the middle-class, and shifting much of the pain to our children and grandchildren. Their proposal to slash Medicaid would leave up to 44 million low-income people uninsured, mostly children and single mothers. Is this the vision of Christian America that you support?

In 2008 and 2010, the electorate was clamoring for jobs. But neither party has delivered sufficient jobs and whether you believe that delivering jobs is a government responsibility or not, the electorate thinks so. Just like the public holds the government responsible for high gas prices. If the Republicans truly believe in small government, they had better start educating the voters that government is not responsible for either jobs or gas prices. It is their supply and demand, free market approach that bears responsibility. However, bringing government spending under control is a no-brainer but the radical approach by the Republicans is not playing well across the country – only to their base.

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Jim Fitzgerald

Jim Fitzgerald

A clinically trained psychologist, Jim had a private practice in Cobb County for almost 30 years. For the last ten years he has been a Professor of Psychology at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, but lives in the North Georgia Mountains.