Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein in their book, It’s Even Worse than It Looks
There appears to be something very strange about our political process right now, and it has reached such a level of extremity that it seems to be outright broken. There really is no other way to say it, when you take an objective look at the political situation.
Surely, there must be numerous reasons for this, although my own personal suspicions are that extreme selfishness that disguises itself in some pseudo-intellectual and legitimate political philosophy has essentially spun out of control. That dates back to the days when Reagan defeated Carter in the 1980 election.
Since then, common sense seems to have gone out the window.
Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that global warming/climate change is a reality, but climate change denial, which gets massively funded by extremely wealthy individuals and corporations with a clear agenda and obvious reasons to oppose action on climate change, and which only a tiny fraction of the scientific community argues, gets equal time on the air waves. Thus, it remains a theory. When people begin to change the name from global warming to climate change, because ignorant simpletons who do not bother trying to understand what it actually is keep arguing that a cold winter's day shoots the "theory" full of holes, they then turn around and use the name change as evidence that you are changing your argument because it does not fit. Despite all of this, a majority of Americans favor stronger action on climate change, yet Republicans in the pay of major polluters and the oil industry keep blocking such proposals.
All evidence also points to the fact that trickle down economics does not work. After all, the track record is hardly promising, since it led to the Great Depression in the 1930's, and the Great Recession in 2008, the most serious economic crisis that the country has faced since the Great Depression. It has also led to greater economic inequality than ever before. Yet, conservatives keep advocating it, keep trying to maintain the status quo of enormous military spending and costly military actions across the globe, while promoting tax incentives and tax cuts for the wealthiest. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans are skeptical of such policies, and desire wealthier Americans and corporations to pay their fair share. Still, Republicans in the pay of elite Wall Street firms keep blocking such actions.
Every other industrialized country in the world has some form of universal, affordable, single payer healthcare that they provide for their citizens. There are price controls to keep the medications reasonably affordable, and people do not have to worry about going broke and losing everything financially when they either fall sick seriously injured or ill. Here in the United States, however, healthcare is always one of the biggest topics of heated debate during every election cycle. Polls show that a majority of Americans desire healthcare reform, particularly to make medical care more affordable and more universally accessible. Yet, Republicans in the pay of pharmaceutical or health insurance companies have gone to extraordinary levels to block such actions, and they have continually, and so far fruitlessly, tried to repeal Obamacare. Universal, affordable single-payer healthcare seems as distant as ever before.
Here is what Chris Hedges had to say about capitalists (and do you know any Republicans who are not proud capitalists?) and our healthcare system:
Capitalists...should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.
Gun violence is more extreme inside of the United States than it is in any other industrialized nation in the world. Far more. Random mass shootings seem to be spaced out not in the space of years or even months, but weeks. Sometimes days and even, occasionally, mere hours. Yet, the gun lobby continues to hold sway, despite the fact that polls consistently show that a majority of Americans favor stronger legislative action to limit access to guns. Yet, prominent politicians in the pay of the NRA, mostly Republicans, continually block such measures and defeat tighter gun legislation, although we are supposed to take comfort that they offer their prayers to the victims and their families after shooting incidents that have grown all too common. When people get fed up, frustrated by the inaction of Washington politicians and express their outrage, they are blasted for "politicizing a tragedy." Often, this happens when calls to make guns harder to access follow a mass shooting, but when would be a better time to call for such things? After all, there are so many mass shootings in America these days, that there is hardly time to stop grieving for the victims and the families of victims with one, when another starts dominating the headlines. So when can we actually talk about this, at least according to gun advocates? It seems that there is never an appropriate time to discuss this option. That even mentioning this outrageous idea that stronger measures, such as more thorough background checks before the purchase of a gun (similar measures were passed in numerous other countries, and seemed to have positive effects) is strictly verboten.
President Obama has addressed this issue far too often, and he seems lately exhausted by it. He seems to have resigned himself to making such speeches, because this has become almost an accepted norm for many, if not most, Americans, even though he also argues, with a lot of validity, that there is absolutely nothing normal about such mass shootings:
"No other advanced nation endures this kind of violence—none. Here in America, the murder rate is three times what it is in other developed nations. The murder rate with guns is 10 times what it is in other developed nations. And there is nothing inevitable about it. It comes about because of decisions we make or fail to make."
Yes, there is nothing inevitable about mass shootings, and they should not be accepted as the new normal.
Frankly, neither should the political gridlock that has come to be a norm in Washington be accepted as the new normal. It happens for a reason, mostly because Republicans in particular (but not exclusively) in the pay of elite special interests with deep pockets essentially buy representation in high places within the government in order to get their way. In a society where money is everything, this has proven to be a system that works for elite interests time and again, although it is increasingly becoming transparent that it is happening at the expense of the rest of us. In other words, ordinary Americans, who do not have the deep pockets to offer these politicians to stand up to special interests and do what is right, and what is best, for the country as a whole.
I myself am not a Democrat, and find that they are more often than not part of the problem than part of the solution. Sometimes, I view their complicity as actually worse than Republicans, although not always.
For the decline of the real standards of living in the United States has coincided with several so-called "Republican revolutions" starting with the "Reagan revolution" of the eighties. Republicans have won the White House more often than not since then, and have also had a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate for a majority of the time since another so-called "Republican revolution" back in 1994. They have had their way, and it clearly is not working. Polls show that a majority of Americans disagree with their policies, yet they still manage to get their way. Still manage to win elections, and yet another honorable mention in their strategy is the gerrymandering of reshaping districts in their favor, in order to keep a majority. Indeed, rather than accepting that their ideas are not as popular as they always boldly suggest, and then making accommodations to fit what Americans want, they simply try to redesign the rules in their favor. With enormous money from corporations, and with think tanks finding arguments to justify these truly unjustifiable policies, they continually get their way. And all of this has helped to contribute to the sense of a cultural war that seems to be escalating with each passing day.
"For reasons hard to fathom, the Republicans seem to have made up their minds: they will divide, degrade and secede from the Union.
They will do so with bullying, lies and manipulation, a willingness to say anything, no matter how daft or wrong. They will do so by spending unheard of sums to buy elections with the happy assistance of big business and wealthy patrons for whom the joys of gross income inequality are a comfortable fact of life. By gerrymandering and denying the vote to as many of the poor, the elderly, struggling low-paid workers, and people of color as they can. And by appealing to the basest impulses of human nature: anger, fear and bigotry."
The GOP on the Eve of Destruction December 3, 2015 by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
The Obama quote I used in this piece was taken from the following:
Obama’s Resigned Anger After San Bernardino The president holds a mirror up to America, and finds the U.S. exceptional in grotesque ways. by DAVID A. GRAHAM DEC 2, 2015: