The “Cult” of Government

Rarely do I choose a reviewers comment over a columnist’s editorial, but with this election so critical and this reader’s analysis so insightful, an exception. This excerpt was taken from Frank Rich’s NYTimes Sunday column entitled “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” (a worthy read).

dairubo, minneapolis writes:

We are in a deep hole, and there is so much that must get done, so many things that must be fixed over the next years, that it is vital to install a government with the mandate and political power to get things done. By now it isn’t about race, or even the candidates. It is about the parties.

It means ignoring the Republican call to handicap government by electing enough of them to block progress. We need a change in the whole government, in the thousands of positions it takes to run the government in all its branches..

It is appropriate at this point to recall something that Jonathan Chait wrote in the New Republic about a year ago under the title, Flight of the Wingnuts:

“American Politics has been hijacked by a tiny coterie of right-wing economic extremists, some of them ideological zealots, others merely greedy, a few of them possibly insane. The scope of their triumph is breathtaking. Over the course of the last three decades, they have moved from the right-wing fringe to the commanding heights of the national agenda. Notions that would have been laughed at a generation ago — that cutting taxes for the very rich is the best response to any and every economic circumstance or that it is perfectly appropriate to turn the most rapacious and self-interested elements of the business lobby into essentially an arm of the federal government — are now so pervasive, they barely attract any notice.

“The result has been a slow-motion disaster. Income inequality has approached levels normally associated with Third World oligarchies, not healthy Western democracies. The federal government has grown so encrusted with business lobbyists that it can no longer meet the great public challenges of our time. Not even many conservative voters or intellectuals find the result congenial. Government is no smaller — it is simply more debt-ridden and more beholden to wealthy elites.

“It was not always this way. A generation ago, Republican economics was relentlessly sober. Republicans concerned themselves with such ills as deficits, inflation, and excessive spending. They did not care very much about cutting taxes, and (as in the case of such GOP presidents as Herbert Hoover and Gerald Ford) they were quite willing to raise taxes in order to balance the budget. While many of them were wealthy and close to business, the leaders of business themselves had a strong sense of social responsibility that transcended their class interests. By temperament, such men were cautious rather than utopian.

“Over the last three decades, however, such Republicans have passed almost completely from the scene, at least in Washington, to be replaced by, essentially, a cult.”

What Chait describes is the story of the economics of John McCain, and it explains why so many old school Republicans are endorsing Barack Obama. The disaster is no longer in slow motion.

True believers are immune to evidence, but the evidence of the last 8 years, and the consequences we now suffer should be enough to convince any undecided among the rest of us.

— dairubo, minneapolis

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~ by eaesthete on 11/03/08.

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