Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: The American Way

Monday, November 03, 2008

The American Way

After hours and hours of watching the political machinations of each party going back and forth, I continue to remain stunned by the Republican Party rhetoric. Granted, I grew up in a republican household, upper-middle class, and have spent the better part of my adult life ashamed of my privilege (that was hard-fought for by my parents, both of whom grew up in lower-middle class families but later became republicans), running toward the principles that I believed created a more just America--and still do. Why my parents abandoned their labor roots I still haven't quite figured out.

(The last morsel of hope I had has been quashed by my father's illness--he would have voted for Obama, instead he's still in the hospital. My mother remains adamantly republican, god help us.)

Nevertheless, there's a lot of garbage being bantered about by the Republican machine lately--socialism, the progressive income tax being re-engineered by their spin machine as 'the dole', which is just another euphemism for welfare (and racism and class war) and more. It's insane, outrageous, incredible -- and I mean that in the most literal sense -- without credibility.

The 'american way' that everyone, especially the republicans like to wax nostalgic about, was built by the progressive income tax. We would never have built the wealth and the prosperity in this country without it. And in fact, we are seeing the fruits of an unfair tax code right now--the rich getting richer, the poor left behind without any real hope of entering into the prosperity that is 'the american way'.

The progressive income tax was instituted by a Republican President--Teddy Roosevelt. He saw the excess of the upper 1% as the potential breakdown of american freedoms and he instituted a progressive tax that would allow services and access to the middle class for everyone. And now it's socialism?

One of my favorite slogans I've ever seen lately was this: The Labor Movement--We're the one's that brought you the weekend. Without the policies and leadership of Government--BIG government--we wouldn't have the fabled 'american way' that the republicans like to take credit for and yet undermine with every deregulation code they support and every cynical, snide comment they make about 'liberal'. When did 'liberal' become a bad word? When did tolerance and civility leave the public discourse? As Obama said the other day, When did selfishness become a virtue?

The progressive income tax along with all the other social nets that governments--both republican and democratic--have instituted over the past 100 years are what created this place we call America. They are what created opportunity, prosperity, consumer safety (Can anybody say melamine?), flexibility, upward mobility, and all the standard bearers of the middle class way of life.

For the republican party to undermine these most fundamental principles and foundations of the middle class here in America shows me that not only have they lost their way, they've lost the plot.


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