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Wednesday, 18 January 2012 06:53

The Rightward Tilt of the GOP Becomes an Avalanche

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A Republican candidate for his party's nomination known as "moderate" would abolish Medicare as we know it, adopting something very similar to the infamous Paul Ryan plan (which happened to sink any presidential aspirations Ryan himself might have had). In boasting about it, he said: "I'll end Medicare faster than Newt Gingrich." He also supported the proposed Mississippi Constitutional amendment to ensconce in it a particular religious belief as to when life begins (turned down even by the voters of Mississippi!) Yes, that's Mitt.

Then there's the "traditional conservative" Rick Santorum who said: "As long as abortion is legal in this country . . . we will never rest because that law does not comport with God's law." In other words, Santorum, like that Mississippi state initiative that Romney supported, would put "God's law" above the U.S. Constitution.

Then we have another "conservative," Ron Paul. The bulk of the Republican establishment doesn't like him, because he would like to cut out virtually all of the US imperialistic overseas involvements, military and otherwise. That of course would lead to a major reduction in US military spending, helping to reduce the budget deficits that the post-Bush GOP is always screaming about, but it would also end the cash cow that the war industry provides for its owners and their Congressional stooges in the US. It would also put an end to the central element of Cheneyism (3), the establishment of Orwellian Permanent War. It is this element of Paulism that attracts certain elements of the Left to him. But Paul also takes these positions, as The Nation's Katha Pollitt has pointed out:

"In a Ron Paul America, there would be no environmental protection, no Social Security, no Medicaid or Medicare, no help for the poor, no public education, no civil rights laws, no anti-discrimination law, no Americans With Disabilities Act, no laws ensuring the safety of food or drugs or consumer products, no workers' rights, [no] Federal Aviation Authority and its pesky air traffic controllers." On the other hand, this so-called "libertarian" would let the states criminalize any belief that life begins other than at the time of conception, and (quoting again) "he maintains his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and opposes restrictions on the ‘freedom' of business owners to refuse service to blacks. . . . No wonder they love him over at Stormfront, a white-supremacist website with neo-Nazi tendencies."

How did the Republican Party get from Ike to Mitt and Newt and Rick (either of them) and Ron? Through what I call the Imperative of the Right-Wing Imperative. It started with Goldwater and has proceeded through Reagan and the Bushes down to the present day.

The real policies of the present GOP are what they have always been: cut taxes for the wealthy, ship U.S. capital and the jobs it supports overseas to where it can make more profits for its owners, make sure that the US continues to run on fossil fuels and keep the fossil fuel companies' profits up, convert our agriculture to industrial farming, remove both market and environmental regulation to the greatest degree possible, encourage the conversion from the industrial capitalism that used to produce the lion's share of the profits in this country, along with a large number of relatively good-paying jobs, to finance capitalism, which, as it happens, doesn't produce much in the way of jobs. But one can hardly win elections running on that kind of platform.

So one has to cover it up with slogans like "small government," "slash spending," and "cut taxes" without any specificity at all, throw in "entitlement reform" as if the generally self-funding Medicare and Social Security programs were the major cause of the US fiscal and economic problems. Then for your Right-wing Christian base add the "social issues" (sic) like denying 14th Amendment rights to gay couples who want to get married and the aforementioned drive to criminalize all beliefs about when life begins other than that it does precisely at the time of conception. And oh yes, when all else fails, red-bait (now bringing in "Europe" which, I am sure, is very surprised to find out that its well-established and profitable capitalism is indeed "socialist") and attack the "free-loading poor" (meaning "black and brown" of course).

And there you have it. For any Republican now to get the nomination, for both reasons of covering up what they really want to do and for reasons of the nature and small numbers of the Republican electorates in the early primary states, it is imperative that they keep following the Rightward Imperative. This will not change anytime soon.

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being a columnist for BuzzFlash/Truthout (http://www.buzzflash.com, http://www.truth-out.org/), he is the Managing Editor of and a Contributing Author to TPJmagazine.net.