The late Ann Richards (former Governor of Texas) was prescient: some people (she had said George Herbert Walker Bush) are born on 3rd base and believe they hit a “home run.”
Mitt Romney is just such a person. And his first “presidential act” was to appoint another son of privilege and intergenerational wealth to accompany him along the journey.
Both these men believe they are qualified to lead America – apparently because of their vast experience with cloistered country clubs, familial privilege, and sweet-heart business arrangements.
And in fairness to Bush, it should be noted that neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Ryan served in uniform when our country went to war when they could have served. Then again, few wealthy people send sons and daughters into Harm’s Way – even in wars started by their friends.
Like most Americans I have tuned in over the past two days to learn more about Mr. Ryan. To that end I have listened carefully to the imagery and language chosen by Mr. Ryan in his new role as “Chief Cheerleader” to explain the rationale for a Republican victory in November.
Few campaigns in recent history have advanced the hyper-hypocrisy espoused by the 2012 Romney/Ryan Campaign.
At stop after stop, Mr. Ryan tells his audience that he is tired of, “Washington picking the winners and losers,” that he believes our country is facing fiscal, even moral catastrophe unless “the people in Washington” are brought under tighter controls.
This is an odd statement for Mr. Ryan to make.
Mr. Ryan has spent his entire adult life in Washington DC. After a privileged childhood, Mr. Ryan went to DC and worked on Capitol Hill. After a brief tenure as a staffer – and consultant in an Armey-DeLay supported “K-Street” lobby firm – Ryan returned to run for Congress (elected at age 28).
A seven-term Congressman, Mr. Ryan is a construct of the structures and systems he now claims to find abhorrent. In another circumstance such things could form the narrative for a theatrical farce.
Ryan is Washington.
And it was the plethora of “mentors” he speaks so glowingly of, that created the mess he now claims with such passion he wants to be sent to clean up.
Ryan embodies the irony – and the hypocrisy – of the modern Republican Party.
Made of Washington, Mr. Ryan serves the interests of the money changers at our secular temple, and if elected he will continue to serve Washington and its power elite.
Hint: the modern Republican Party does not want a “solution” for our problems. The Republican Party as it now exists, is a party of the status quo – it seeks policies that keep the establishment secure, the great unwashed dependent upon fantasy, and the Democratic Party strong enough to pose a “threat” that must be vanquished from time to time (when convenient).
Out of office Republicans attack, obstruct, and prohibit meaningful progress of empowered Democrats; in office, the Republicans reward friends, punish enemies, and push government spending onto future decision-makers with uncanny skill.
Sadly, this is not limited to our national capital.
Here at home, we are witness to the same tactics.
In the 1990s, the Oregon House of Representatives and Oregon Senate were dominated by a similar ideology. And not coincidentally, it was during the 1990s that we created newfangled methods of pushing spending “off the books” – in order to showcase "fiscal discipline."
Today, the modern Republican Party promises “fiscal constraint” without providing the specifics required to actually realize such measures, or a record of implementing constraint when given the opportunity to do so.
Simply put, "Jack Kemp Math" lives.
It should be – but isn’t – a rule: people receiving a benefit from government spending should not be allowed to assert the need for massive cuts in overall government spending – without an appropriate amount of laughter by all involved.
Government exists to protect people, provide opportunities to people (not born on 3rd base), and to secure at least a relative degree of fairness and justice throughout our nation, state, and communities. It is neither bad nor good, but necessary.
Government spending equates to tax revenues supporting education, employment, public health, public safety, and transportation.
It also equates to the programs our appointed and elected decision-makers direct for preferred public outcomes: businesses – a lot of them – benefit from tax revenues spent this way.
The dirty little truth that people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (and those that support him among the business class) don’t want us to know is that government spending helps them – likely more than it helps the rest of us.
Consider the tax code, tax exemptions, the ability of corporations to influence elections and public policy outcomes, and the other hidden subsidies that we all (including Romney and Ryan) benefit from. These are valuable parts of our economy; critical support for our society as a whole.
It is also important to remember that “bureaucrats” – those pesky irritants that so many Republicans enjoy skewering are nothing more or less than government workers. Bureaucracies are large organizations established to implement policy.
Government bureaucrats include: educators, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, transportation workers, and those helping our veterans. Demonizing these people is always good politics because we all have personal experiences of when a civil servant fell short of our expectations.
Then again, we seem to forget similar experiences from the private sector. However, Republicans generally prefer to attack government enterprises rather than private industry.
It is time we recognize that being divided over the “value of government” is absurd. Government is a "force-multiplier" that prepares our citizens for work, defends our communities, and facilitates trade through a network of law and procedure that empowers the market.
It is time we call people out on the hypocrisy that allows two millionaires to trudge around the country claiming they know anything at all about the life of ordinary Americans.
And it is time we challenge the droll, outrageous claims of the party that wants the opportunity to return to Washington to continue the sacking of the government they didn’t quite govern into bankruptcy.
This campaign we must all be careful to listen, learn, and understand the choices we face. We will get the America – and the Oregon – we deserve. It is for us to do the hard work of securing freedom in our time, in our community.