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“And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah. This is what the Lord Almighty said, ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner, or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.” Zechariah 7:8-10
It is unfathomable to me that fundamentalist Christians so ardently support the Republican party. Few Republican politicians exhibit any of the “fruits of the spirit” that supposedly identify true Christians. Nor does the Republican agenda reflect any Christian teachings.
Both Republican philosophy and policy objectives promote greed, selfishness, hate and division. There is no “true justice” in recent Supreme Court rulings, opposition to police reform, enabling of racism or restrictions on voting rights to name a few examples. Republican opposition to national healthcare, living wages, food stamps, and other social needs hardly show “mercy and compassion” for anyone much less the poor. Their xenophobic policies on immigration certainly oppresses the foreigner. They plot “evil against each other” with threats and attacks on “RINOS” (Republican in Name Only) who are deemed insufficiently extreme.
I can think of very few instances in the past 50 years when Republicans supported anything good for ordinary people. This historical pattern has now expanded to include sabotaging important government functions and openly promoting political violence.
You may think I am a being excessively hyperbolic or partisan. But Republican behavior provides the evidence. I refer to recent Republican campaign ads showing candidates aggressively brandishing guns. These ads go beyond the usual anti-gun control talking points. The ads contain implicit and explicit threats against opponents and the government.
An analysis of 104 Republican campaign ads by the Center for American Progress found half of the ads featured guns and 25% involved threats and incitement to violence. They defined a threat as when “a candidate metaphorically targeted individuals, political affiliations, institutions, or agendas with their weapons and/or if they displayed a firearm while declaring their willingness to do anything to ‘fight’ their opponents.”
One example involved a Republican candidate for governor leading an armed assault on a house by men in military combat gear. The audio said “Join the MAGA crew. Get a RINO hunting permit. There’s no bagging limit...”
Other examples had candidates shooting at their opponents. Google “Political Violence Play Central Role in MAGA Republican Campaign Ads, Center for American Progress” to read the report and see some of the ads.
The Republican Party, if they had any integrity, would disavow these candidates and their irresponsible tactics. But they have not. Nor have they condemned other acts of violence such the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol or Donald Trump’s role in inciting that riot.
These ads are not free speech. They are not responsible campaign discourse. It is promoting violence. It is giving supporters permission to perpetrate violence against people with whom they disagree. Given our history of political violence and the recent increase in white supremacist groups and anti-government “militias” (read armed gangs) these threats should be taken seriously and prosecuted as crimes.
There is also plenty of evidence for Republican sabotage of the normal functioning of government. Examples include the numerous times they have engineered a government shutdown, underfunded essential pubic services, or appointed individuals to head a department who opposed the work of that organization.
This week Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is again attacking Social Security and Medicare with a scheme that would destroy the efficient delivery of benefits to 69.1 million Americans. Johnson wants Social Security and Medicare to no longer be federal “entitlement” programs. He wants Social Security and Medicare spending to be approved each year by Congress with annual appropriations like other government operations and programs.
This reflects a complete misunderstanding of federal budgets, how Social Security and Medicare actually work, and how insurance programs are responsibly funded.
Republicans blame “entitlements” like Social Security and Medicare for federal budget deficits. But federal deficits are caused by excessive Pentagon spending, corporate welfare and tax cuts for business and the wealthy.
Social Security is a trust fund paid for in advance with special payroll deductions and is separate from regular federal spending. It has never contributed a dime to the deficit.
The administrative chaos created from Johnson’s proposal would not solve the fiscal challenges of Social Security either. These problems stem from everyone getting older and Congress’s refusal to act on known solutions. Medicare’s primary fiscal problem is the high cost of private sector medical care and drug prices. Again Congress for decades has failed to address these issues. So giving Congress more power over these programs will not solve these problems or budget deficits.
All employees and their employers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes that go into dedicated trust funds. This money by law can only be used for paying benefits to recipients. Social Security is an earned, and paid for, retirement and disability insurance program run by the government. Similarly Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people 65 and above or with disabilities. It is insurance paid for in advance and with monthly premiums.
Both these insurance programs operate much like private insurance and are not charitable handouts. These programs are “entitlements” because people have paid for the benefits in advance and are entitled to get return on their investment. This is not part of the regular government operations or budget process (the discretionary budget). Making these program subject to annual review and funding appropriations is an absurd idea. Insurance and retirement programs require long term investment and planning not short term political meddling.
Johnson’s ridiculous proposal would only hurt the elderly, widows, orphans and disabled who rely on Social Security for food and shelter. Their monthly subsistence would become part of the annual, political budget charade in Congress. So when Congress failed to act or shutdown the government over political grandstanding, these people would lose their income.
One can only conclude that the real purpose of Johnson’s meddling with these popular, successful programs is to sabotage them.
This fits his anti-government ideology and opens opportunities for the free market to further “oppress the widow, the fatherless...and the poor.” It certainly has nothing to do with Christian charity or teachings.
As political satirist P.J. O’Rourke said, “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”