Anti-Populism Republican Style

By Thomas Heaney

While the latest silliness on the Republican Presidential debate scene speaks volumes about character or lack of same, the central issue for most Americans is still the quest for economic justice. More specifically it’s about making available sustainable private and public sector jobs to the nation’s unemployed and under-employed. Beyond that it’s about honoring social contracts so that retirement is really a reward for years of dedicated work and something other than the little shop of horrors it has become for so many lately.

Too many Americans can’t get work because too many employers, especially large corporations, are pursuing anti-worker growth policies.  Too many large corporate employers are expanding by doing everything but hiring American workers into domestic full-time living wage, full-benefit jobs. While they are busy not hiring domestically, lots of cash is being paid to lower the cost of business by any means necessary. Corporate lobbyists have been funded by the likes of the Koch brothers to become overt enemies of organized American workers.

To add insult to injury, profits by private sector titans are being spent to destroy the public sector. This is being done purposefully to create even more profit opportunities where they don’t belong.

For quite some time now, big business has been pursing an anti-worker agenda by sending more and more expensive lobbyists to Washington. This agenda features outsourcing, undermining unions, gaming the tax code, and seeking to avoid accountability of all kinds.

Attempting to privatize well-functioning service infrastructure has become another priority universally embraced by Republicans. Police, Fire, EMS, K-12 education, Community College, and State University education have been and should remain public. Where performance is lacking, it should be repaired, not used as an excuse to wreak havoc on the lower and middle classes.

Destroying whole institutions based on blind faith in private solutions is unmerited and disingenuous. The American public is right to be suspicious when “solutions” come from the same people who stand to profit from the cavalier destruction of time honored American institutions. Declaring war on workers in order to defeat their unions amounts to stealing from the poor and middle class to reward the rich. Opposition to this kind of thuggery is the right thing to do. This is not socialism no matter what Fox “news” and other right-wing sources might suggest.

Public sector budget cuts at local levels have undermined the current recovery. This has been a deliberate course pursued by the Republican Party at both state and federal levels. This is something to be remembered when voting at both the state and federal levels come voting time next November.

Stopping stimulus money from being spent at the state level has been key to the efforts of ALEC and Republican Presidential hopefuls. This has occurred while corporate boilerplate legislation has appeared despite never having being mentioned during campaigns at the state or national level.

Republicans continue to shamelessly advocate for more deregulation, even lower taxes, and even more lax pollution controls. Amazingly they continue to do this while the “free trade” doctrine they continue to espouse has resulted in our current dire straits. American workers and future generations deserve much better!

The new Republican brand is, in reality, very pure anti-populism. Attempts to appeal to some notion of the common good are being dismissed by Republicans and apologists as unaffordable, impractical, or job defeating. That rationale is at once foolish and illogical. What we really can’t afford is an economy that works for investors but not workers. We are all in this together.

Anti-populism should be identified for what it is and challenged, especially when spoken by presidential candidates. Sadly, it almost never is. Anyone interested in economic justice should reject the current Republican mind-set. Blind faith in market solutions has gotten us nowhere. The best accountability moments are those that occur in the voting booth. Maybe that’s why so many voter suppression dollars seem to be flowing from the right.

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