Mar 132005

by Sara White

“Oxymoron” is a fun concept many of us learned in high school that means a pair of words that contradict each other‚ you know, like “jumbo shrimp.” I’m sorry to say it, but under the current administration, “Republican leadership” has become the new oxymoron.

The Republicans have virtual control of the federal government (and many states), and what are they doing about responsible planning and accountability? The federal deficit has been growing by leaps and bounds, which means we are borrowing tax dollars from our children and grandchildren. Remember when everyone used to complain about “tax and spend” liberals? Why aren’t we hearing folks talking about “borrow and bankrupt” conservatives?

Of course, “conservative” doesn’t really describe the style of leadership that controls the nation today. True fiscal conservatives are no doubt appalled by the reckless economic policies that the Bush administration has promoted.

The combination of having foreign investment and trade deficits at an all-time high and an out-of-control federal budget deficit is making America extremely vulnerable to the foreign nations that own our assets ? nations like China, which will be our economic rival in the very near future.

If any group of foreign investors begins to doubt their investment in the United States is safe, they could pull out and leave our economy in shambles. Yet the Republican leadership is ignoring this enormous threat to our national well-being. Instead they keep lowering taxes and protecting those with the most assets and income. They don’t make them pay their fair share of dues for being members of this great society of ours.

What about the true social conservatives? I expect if they are paying attention, they are probably disappointed as well, since they are getting nothing but posturing from President Bush on his “compassionate” and family-oriented policies. If he won the election on his pro-life, anti-gay marriage stands, why was his first big program in the second administration an attack on Social Security?

What would a real social conservative look like? Wouldn’t it be someone who actually promotes policies that help families and children?

Jim Wallis, author of “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It,” writes, “My message to both parties‚ to both liberals and conservatives‚ is that protecting life is indeed a seamless garment. Protecting unborn life is important. Opposing unjust wars that take human life is important. And supporting anti-poverty programs that provide adequate support for mothers and children in poverty is important. Neither party gets it right; each has perhaps half of the answer. My message and my challenge are to bring them together.”

During the campaign, the President was quoted telling his wealthy donors they were his base : “the have’s and the have-more’s.” The Bush administration is pro-business, pro-industry and pro-wealth 24-7. The White House and leaders in Congress keep ignoring or hiding inconvenient facts that conflict with their agenda by mounting bold ad campaigns. They tell us global warming is junk science, though the world’s scientific community is unanimous that we need to take action now. They bad-mouth the AARP because it doesn’t support the privatization and scaling back of Social Security. They plant party operatives like Jim Guckert‚ a/k/a Jeff Gannon in the White House press corps, despite his seamy background and complete lack of journalistic credentials.

And they apparently paid Armstrong Williams and several other real journalists to promote their agenda in print and on the air ? a highly questionable misuse of public money and possibly illegal. There have been unprecedented attacks on the freedom of our press and public information, on the most vital pillars of our republican democracy.

Another favorite trick of the new Republican elite is to give their legislation catchy titles. These names have been called Orwellian by the opposition for good reason. The “No Child Left Behind” act penalizes struggling schools and weakens public education. “Clear Skies” legislation allows industry to spew more pollution into our nation’s air. The “Healthy Forest” initiative lets loggers clear-cut America’s woodlands. And the “Fair Pay” bill gets rid of overtime pay.

The White House is filled with industry insiders busy writing their dream regulations and sending legislation to our compliant Congress to enact. Jesus may be Mr. Bush’s favorite philosopher, but it doesn’t appear that the president believes in being a “faithful steward” of God’s bounty.

I suggest moderate and average Republicans need to chastise their leadership, and Democrats and independents need to speak up loudly, challenging this one-party locomotive barreling down a dead-end track. Americans should have learned their lessons from the history of the 1920’s pro-business Republican administrations. Reckless economic policies are bound to fail sooner or later.

But as the saying goes, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Maybe it’s time to dust off your old history book and re-read a few chapters. We the people need to become the new leadership ? and turn this train around before it crashes.

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