Have I Shifted Way Left or the GOP Shifted Way Right?…Sometimes when I get worked up I go off on these long rants, & this is one of those times! So I got these nasty replies from a couple right-wing guys last week questioning my moderate conservative/lifelong Republican bona fides. Based on Cubs Fan & Jed C’s (whom I refer to as Jed Clampett) revisionist definitions of me, there must be quite a number of us former or current Republicans whom they describe as having turned into deranged radical leftist liberals, progressive socialist nutbags, extremist pinko-commie Marxists who all have a severe case of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). Those were basically their words, not mine (yep, those crazy Trumpeters can really be a hoot), but let us ponder what has really happened.
Let’s first ask who has really changed, us crazy Marxists or the extreme-right nativist Trump shills? I still consider myself a moderate conservative. But I’ve detected how the GOP/conservative base has largely become radicalized & gone way off the rails over the past decade or longer, so those of us still holding fast to the view we want a constructive, inclusive, pragmatic & sane conservative party, we cannot in good conscience support what has become of the GOP. This is not our father’s Republican Party! So us never-Trumpers who don’t follow along & join their cult, they’re going to attack us just like their cult leader does & by example has taught them to do. But despite the barbs being tossed at us, don’t underestimate our significance as a group: https://thebulwark.com/the-quiet-significance-of-nevertrump/.
The radical right attacks us only because we have the nerve to call out their leader for who he really is. I was taxing my mind trying to recall any of the recognizable politicians, pundits & journalists who share my opinions & values, former or current GOP members who’ve consistently criticized the train wreck that has become President Trump. So here is my alphabetized list that Cubs & Jed would also probably define them like they define me as a dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying member of the leftist progressive communist party:
Christie Todd Whitman
I can assure you these people are not leftist loons. But apparently according to Cubs & Jed, these political professionals are just a bunch of destructive socialists like me who want to turn America into Venezuela. I really think my Trumpeter acquaintances may have their wires crossed, since us never-Trumpers hold onto traditional conservative principles which could actually help make America great again, while those following Trump like compliant puppets are now part of a destructive party we can no longer recognize. Myself & all those who made that list want no part of conservatism that has become defined by serial dishonesty, delusion, gaslighting, corruption, bigotry, racism, lacking integrity & embracing criminalized behavior from their leadership, defiling the Constitution & running the risk of sliding into tyrannical authoritarianism. If Cubs & Jed want to support that, & do so vociferously like they do, it’s their right. But count me out!
Cubs Fan is from Arizona & I could have included his former senators McCain & Flake on that list, plus my former Ohio governor Kasich. I also got this reply from Laura A. in my email distribution list about that never-Trump Republican list: I think you also have to assume the mass exodus of republicans not running for re-election are doing so because either their party has left them or they don’t have the stomach to morph into whatever it is that is happening to it. Good points there, as the record number of resigning Republicans might indicate rather than alienating their base by pushing back against Trump, they figure it’s just not worth it to face the music. And perhaps they too realize being a Republican officeholder now requires leaving your moral ethics at the door.
And believe me, there’s a whole lot of Republicans who’d like to speak out in opposition to Trump, but for now their political survival dictates not to offend Trump, the echo & their base. Once Trump loses his power & leverage, the floodgates could open up to a wave of criticism. So when that tribal fear of Trump’s retribution is finally removed from the equation within the GOP, that list of a few dozen willing to recite the horrors of a Trump presidency will suddenly grow into the millions! That is likely to start happening sometime in the next calendar year, whether the prez is forced out due to his high crimes or voted out. When the prez does go down, he’s gonna land hard!
Am I a Socialist or Pragmatist?
As for the barbs directed at me saying my claim of being a moderate conservative from a policy standpoint are hooey, with Cubs & Jed really thinking I’m some sort of radical Marxist far-left pinko commie, let me further clarify my economic views which have been consistent in all our Part 3 posts in recent years. I never advocate for more government handouts except for the truly needy, but I do constantly call for tweaking the system so it creates more opportunity & pay for hard work. That I’m calling on government to do their jobs we elected them for in working on behalf of the people, revamping the system so the working class benefits rather than being taken advantage of, is not a socialist position so much as observing the relatively new & chronic conditions that have befallen our society which are badly in need of fixing! Make no mistake, I’m not out to destroy capitalism, but I strongly urge correcting the inequitable flaws inherent within before capitalism destroys itself. There’s a simmering anger, frustration & desperation boiling over in many parts of our heartland that seem to have escaped all those elitist politico & corporate bigwigs.
To the extent I keep questioning capitalism & the free market model is my attempt to highlight the ongoing structural challenges that are stressing our system, plus stressing out millions of American families struggling to make ends meet. So that is the problem, there are way too many jobs that don’t pay enough to pay the bills! Whether steps are taken to increase incomes or decrease living costs, something needs done to bring American family budgets back into balance. Overall the pendulum has swung wildly in favor of rewarding capital over labor, so we must find ways to swing it back closer to the center. I’ve always said it’s unconscionable an economy producing enormous wealth like ours would have roughly half the population stressed out over covering their expenses. At this point in our nation’s history, I consider politicians derelict in their duties by failing to address this big issue, in large part due to the enormous divides within our country which view the problems & possible remedies so differently. Solutions are hard to come by until Americans can work together & agree around basic facts, since for now we’re busy fighting each other rather than our pressing problems.
That I’ve been advocating for more government intervention & constructive public-private partnerships than I believed was necessary years ago, isn’t so much a reflection my basic views have changed, but it’s more a recognition times have changed. We must react to the changing circumstances! If my moderate conservative viewpoints have shifted, it’s only because of our new reality defined by a distorted uneven economy. Leaving the free market to its own devices have us trending in a disturbing direction going on decades now, where far too many full-time jobs don’t pay a livable wage while wage/wealth gaps continue to escalate. It’s like another Gilded Age that functions as a reverse Robin Hood. The low unemployment rates & claims of this being the “greatest economy” are mostly a ruse, since working families aren’t feeling it, while tepid GDP growth (which under Trump is actually lower than Jimmy Carter’s economy) is being propped up by the unstable foundation of massive deficit spending. So the blustering hype we keep hearing from Trump is all hot air!
We’ve also seen trends where giant Wall St. firms & multinationals have usurped much greater power & leverage, giving them the means to run roughshod over smaller competitors, along with suppressing wages for labor under the constant threat of automating or outsourcing their jobs out of existence. In many industries, competitive free markets have lost their competitiveness, practically being replaced by monopolies or oligarchies with the might to exploit their suppliers, workers & consumers. With the evolution of our modern capitalist system, in democratic countries the big corporations now have the means to oppress the people more than big government could. And political leadership increasingly tends to kowtow to these corporate giants. Plus mammoth corporate conglomerates also use the tools of the modern global economy to their full advantage, with mass communications, mass transit, breakthrough technologies, economies of scale, uncompromising negotiation positions, playing communities/states/countries against each other, tax breaks & the ability to self-fund all working to their advantage, the inequities built into the system can only continue to worsen without some smart & much-needed interventions. And the gains on Wall St. hardly touch Main St. anymore.
The staggering levels of income inequality are intolerable & unsustainable, so we can’t idly stand by just wishing the issue away. So we the people must take the power back in protecting our financial security & freedoms! Without smart innovative policies to stem the tide, the inequities built into our economic situation would only escalate, as the American Dream of upward mobility, shared prosperity & equality of opportunity gets relegated to the dustbin of history. Relying on huge corporate monoliths to provide our subsistence is like cuddling up to a Frankenstein monster. I’m calling out these current realities out of frustration! It’s frustration that tens of millions of American workers are living paycheck to paycheck, stuck in low-wage/cookie-cutter/dead-end occupations with no hopes for the future, all the while the powers that be keep tilting the paying field in their favor. It’s also frustration that despite the main problems being so glaringly obvious, our political leadership are virtually comatose in trying to correct the issues, as they’re actually complicit by accepting large donations (payola) which encourages getting in bed with the corporate oligarchs. We should demand of our DC leaders they place the people above corporations!