Following the bitter Republican hostility towards proposed extensions to unemployment benefits claims, many unemployed and struggling Americans are swearing off the party-of-no. As election season gets once again underway, even some lifelong Republicans are promising they’ll never cast another vote to the party which they see as having truly turned it’s back on working Americans.
The Republican dream economy is finally all but complete. Decades of deregulation have allowed chemical spills into public drinking water to become acceptable occurrences. Financial industry con artists such as the creative investment professionals at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, have gotten away with their millions after destroying the economy without so much as a stern look from Congress or the Department of Justice.
Unions have been busted so thoroughly that their memberships are at in some cases record lows and wages have been stagnant in the face of astronomical corporate profits. Countless tax cuts, shelters and loopholes for corporate America and the wealthiest private citizens have not only consolidated all of the wealth in the hands of a very elite few, but have also drained the government dry of resources for which to pay for social programs and public services such as foodstamps, schools, roads and in some cases, police.
The privatization and selling off of America from top to bottom by the party which brought us everything from “trickledown economics” to “legitimate rape,” was genuinely close to coming off clean and serene, without so much as a hiccup, were it not for one burdensome Republican reality. The American people.
With the job market still largely tanked as a result of the financial ruin created by deregulation and prolonged by deficit hysteria and austerity, the few significant growth industries in terms of employment have thus far, been rather steadily going the way of McRib. Here sometimes, then gone. Easily celebrated when announced but generally sub-par and disappointing when experienced. Not to mention, above all else, just like any other mystery meat sandwich, most of it is ultimately bad for everyone involved, save for the corporation selling it.
This “fast food jobs” analogy would be laughable, were it not also an entirely real development in the world of the unemployed. Recent studies have found that while some raw numbers showing job growth may suggest current labor and economic policy to be leading to recovery, harder analysis of these numbers show that most of the observable growth is in job sectors far, far below the professional levels of pay or benefits that were lost in the “great recession.”
With an increasing number of out of work, formerly professional Americans now so desperate and in such numbers all finding themselves competing often for mere minimum wage service sector jobs such as those offered by Walmart or McDonalds, the Republican economy has finally hit its first true stumbling block as its congressional representatives and senators stake out bourgeois positions on the issue of emergency unemployment extensions.
Senator Rand Paul recently became a lightning rod for debate, when he said that extending unemployment benefits would be a “disservice” to workers, asserting that such would make them dependent and lazy. Though an attitude that is perhaps shared by his politically regressive fellows in the House and Senate, such doesn’t sit well with lifelong Republican Peter LeClair, who wrote recently in an email to ThinkProgress,
[box type=”shadow”]“I am incensed with this Rand Paul, who has said extending the benefits would do a disservice to those who were relying on them. He says I am lazy… I am not lazy, how dare he. He doesn’t even know me.”[/box]
Nor does he apparently know much about actual economics, Peter.
Sen. Paul has been at the forefront of the Republican fight to cut government spending. Yet recently, even Ben Bernanke, the outgoing chair of the Federal Reserve and longtime neoliberal economics enthusiast, admitted in a recent speech that among all factors which served to hamper the economic recovery, the austerity driven budget cuts which sit a the center of right wing economic policy.
Furthermore, the majority of economic data have shown that progressive policies such as increases in the minimum wage, paid family leave and equal pay for women are all economically beneficial, despite the laundry list of rhetorical challenges issued by Republicans like Paul.
Naturally, only the results of November’s elections will truly tell if liberalism and centrism are truly on the rise, or if even more reasonable conservatives (yes, they do indeed exist,) will leave the party in any real numbers. One can only hope.
And even though the GOP is additionally under threat from their own internal civil war, there remains the threat of voter suppression and gerrymandered districts still resulting in trickle-down cultists and classist plutocrats being elected.
However if these numerous and repeating signals of popular discontent with what has become of the Republican Party are any real indicator, the future looks bleak for the GOP.
h/t: Think Progress