It has become increasingly clear that republicans are now following a playbook written during the time of the Gipper. Who should be given credit for the authorship is not entirely clear, but it actually matters little. The pattern has now been repeated numerous times, so the current mess should come as no surprise to anyone.
The strategy begins with the major Goal of Republican ideology: Shrink government to the minimum consistent with the national defense and the underlying conservative aim of world dominance. All other elements--repeat --ALL-- of our national government must be eliminated—one diehard quipped that he wanted to reduce government to the point that it could be flushed down the drain.
This strategy eliminates all elements of a caring, empathetic social system. All people must care for themselves, regardless of their ability to do so, and regardless of the blocks placed in their way by our economic or social systems. Those who can’t stay afloat in such a system, will necessarily drown.
The basic strategy seems to have several parts.
Part One: Create a Crisis – Republicans understand that if life is normal and times seem good to the American people, there is little enthusiasm for major change. So, it is necessary to create a crisis, and not just any crisis, but foremost an economic crisis. The most expeditious way to create such a crisis is to reduce the inflow of revenue, generally by tax reductions. If one can subtract the revenue base through tax cuts, then we quickly create a major crisis. Reagan created such a crisis through his adherence to the absurd Laffer Curve, through which tax reductions were supposed to increase Federal revenues—an absurdity quickly revealed and which led to huge federal deficits, and a rapidly escalating national debt. George W. Bush is probably the dominant adherent of crisis-creation in this regard. Starting from a budgetary surplus created by Clinton’s policies, Bush enacted massive tax cuts for the wealthiest of his supporters, leading to the largest federal deficits in the nation’s history. He was ably assisted by the nation’s bankers, who, in pursuit of even greater profits, embarked on a series of what can only be described as Ponzi schemes, beyond even the wildest dreams of people such as Charles Ponzi, or Bernie Madoff. As with all such schemes, the bank Ponzi’s eventually crashed, bringing ruin to millions of people, without seriously affecting the personal wealth of the banking Ponzi-masters, equivalent perhaps to a trifecta.
Part Two: Use the crisis to reduce the size and scope of government. It is revealing to observe republican strategists who vowed to bring back jobs, but acted first to eliminate social safety net programs. If we have massive deficits caused by tax reductions and illicit banking practices, the most obvious way to reverse the damage would be to increase taxes and more tightly regulate the banking thieves who perpetrated these legal crimes. But, no. Republicans are engaged in eliminating programs serving the middle and lower classes. In Wisconsin, the Governor there began with a budget balance, created a budget shortfall, and is now using that shortfall to boldly eliminate unions in his state. We can see across the board, republicans gunning for social programs, leaving untouched the military—necessary to secure their aims of global dominance—and leaving untouched the shredded regulatory framework aimed at controlling their 21st century robber barons.
Part Three: Secure their gains by using recent electoral gains to game the electoral system such that more republicans will be elected in future elections by controlling the districting maps. Once they secure both houses, their gains can be made permanent.
Part Four: Continue their assault on our third branch of government—the courts-- to secure a solid republican controlled judiciary. They have already made major advances in corrupting the Supreme Court, and have managed to block Obama appointments to lower courts to the point that many lower court systems are being damaged seriously.
This strategy is well advanced and could result in another government shutdown, creating yet another form of the same crisis. What then happens during these artificial crises is that democrats are forced to yield, and begin arguing on republican turf. One can see that occurring for example, in the December session in which Obama and the democrats yielded to republican demands to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest of their patrons, thus perpetuating the economic crisis.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, ordinary Americans seem oblivious to what is happening in this once great nation. We remain engrossed in the turmoil in the Middle East, as one regime after another comes under assault by people who are fed up with the status quo of their own robber barons. We sit watching our TVs, drinking our beer and ignoring the fact that the reverse is occurring here—an outright assault by extreme right wing robber baron forces that now control a very large part of our nation, and seek to control all of it. One wonders what the Middle Eastern protest crowds would think about America if they could but observe what is happening here. What is most ironic here is that, as the Middle East protesters strive to achieve what we already have, we seem to be striving to move back to that 14th-17th century system they are trying so desperately to leave.