By: Andy Schmookler, 6th District Congressional Candidate
Right now in America, insanity has its bold champions, and those who should defend sanity do not stand and fight.
Violating Our Political Norms
Americans are suffering now–worried, angry, disgusted—from a wholly unnecessary crisis deliberately chosen by one of our two major parties. It was a choice by today’s Republican Party to break our nation’s established political norms: for generations, every other time that the debt-ceiling has needed to be raised, both parties have cooperated to assure that it gets done.
Only this time has a major political party used it to create a crisis, and the present ugly spectacle and American distress is the entirely predictable result.
No party that so willingly violates established norms can be regarded as genuinely “conservative.”
No party that deliberately inflicts suffering on the American people can claim that it cares about us.
No party that holds a gun to the head of the American economy and says, “Meet our demands or we’ll hurt America” can be said to put “Country first.”
No party that hurts the country for its political advantage can be regarded as genuinely patriotic.
But today’s Republican Party has done all of these. And its reasons are hardly more creditable.
Distracting Us From Our Urgent Needs
It’s not as though we lack for real crises. Millions of American families are hurting: the number of people out of work for more than half a year now is off the charts—way beyond anything seen in America since the Great Depression. But after campaigning on “job creation,” these Republicans have destroyed jobs and insisted that we deal instead with “deficit reduction.”
Who can believe that they’re really concerned about the deficit, when this is the same party that insisted last December that we add $700 billion to the debt to renew tax cuts, opposed by a large majority of Americans, for multi-millionaires and billionaires?
But, regardless, deficit reduction is not an urgent problem. Indeed, Ben Bernacke –the Fed Chairman first appointed by GW Bush—has cautioned that reducing the deficit now could prolong our economic slump. That could increase our problem of joblessness, and actually widen the deficit.
Yet while real issues go ignored, the Republicans insist we have this needless and bitter fight.
But it’s still worse.
Compounding America’s Growing Inequity
The Republicans insist the deficit be reduced entirely by spending cuts, adamantly refusing any increase in revenues. But the deficit is caused far more by plunging revenues –which are now at the lowest level as a proportion of GDP in sixty years—than by increased spending. Spending has not been “out of control,” but has only gone up as a means of reducing the pain of hard-strapped Americans, and as a means of preventing deeper economic collapse.
Despite the fact that the gulf between the richest and average Americans is the widest it’s been in living memory, the Republicans insist that the superrich, whose share of our national wealth has tripled, not sacrifice a cent. Meanwhile, at a time of great pain in the country, the Republicans attack the safety net and other programs that make America a more humane society.
Americans should see clearly what today’s Republican Party has become.
It is to speak the truth about this that I am running for Congress in Virginia. Our state of Virginia is particularly threatened by this unnecessary crisis, facing a possible credit downgrade and possible lay-offs of our many workers in military and government service.
I am running against a ten-term Republican incumbent, Bob Goodlatte. Mr. Goodlatte is one of those who have threatened the nation with disaster, have sought to gut Medicare, and have ignored the pain of the American people in the quest for partisan advantage. In his statements, Goodlatte has promoted the distortions and falsehoods of this Republican wrecking crew.
The Bullied Pulpit
It is from the man who has the bully pulpit that American most needs to be hearing these truths about what the Republicans are doing. These days, however, it seems more like the bullied pulpit.
From the outset he should have denounced –as the scandal it is– the use of the debt ceiling for political purposes, and in that way made the political costs of any extortion prohibitive.
He should have insisted that our national attention be directed toward meeting our real challenges, and not let the Republicans dictate this misguided focus of our national discourse.
He should have refuted the fallacy that government needs to be frugal when times are tough, when the truth is the opposite.
He should have shown Americans the truth about what has become unbalanced in our national finances and distribution of wealth.
But on all these issues, he’s given ground to those forces from which America needs to be protected, letting the teachable moments slip away, leaving important truths unspoken.
America needs leadership that will assure that sanity will prevail.
Andy Schmookler is an award-winning author, radio commentator, and teacher running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte. Andy has been a resident of Shenandoah County since 1992. He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Commentary, National, Politics
Tags: budget, economy