A Letter to Conservatives (from a Progressive) [Part 2]

May 12, 2011

Dear Republican Brothers and Sisters:

When the word “entitlements” is stated, do you hear between the lines?  When uttered so vehemently by Republicans, I hear the implication that these programs are hand-outs – free, unearned gifts that are taken for granted by the non-rich.  I hear the undertones of Republicans’ assault on the poor and working class – the continued efforts funnel money from the working class to the rich (e.g., tax breaks for billionaires, billion-dollar subsidies for oil and farm companies, huge no-bid contracts to defense companies, and the constant push to deregulate the financial industry). Yes, there is class warfare.  The rich are winning by a landslide. Now, a lot of Republicans view these entitlements as missed opportunities to make money, whether or not we contributed to them directly and have earned the benefit (i.e., Social Security). If you, my conservative brothers and sisters, were the priority for Republicans, they would, at the very least, speak of ways to help you and other working families that was of independent of the interest of corporations. And to believe that the “market” can solve all these problems is just foolish. The economic collapse should have taught us all that.

Here’s why holding negative opinions of these government programs is inconsistent with conservative values.  I believe most Christians* are aware of the Biblical story of how Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread and fed the multitude (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17). Now, according to Republicans’ idea of capitalism, this would have been an opportunity for Jesus to use his miraculous abilities to turn a huge profit. Obviously, he didn’t. He fed the people, and he did so simply because they were hungry, and with no expectation of personal gain. That is what is so divine about the life of Jesus — the giving, not the taking. (*For the record, I am not equating “conservative” with “Christian,” as all conservatives are not Christian, nor are all Christians conservative, but the vast majority of the Republican base are Christian conservatives.)

Most products and services are eligible for capitalization, but when it comes to some of the necessities of life, we benefit most by ensuring that all are provided for. It would be very easy to capitalize the fire department, or the police. If these were not socialized programs, we would be at the mercy of whatever company provided these services — completely vulnerable because lives are at stake. It would be unethical and immoral to allow a corporate fire department to “shake you down” for a tremendous profit to save your children in your burning house. The principles of capitalism apply — supply and demand –, however, it is simply unethical and immoral. The same holds true for healthcare. Why is it that companies are allowed to make money on the lives of human beings? Is that the kind of capitalism we should be practicing as a civilized society?  Is that what Jesus practiced?

The funny thing is — Republicans aren’t hiding their allegiances. They don’t even try anymore. They have gotten very adept at deflecting attention from their allegiances by instilling fear in their constitutents. Many of you good-hearted, conservative Americans have allowed yourselves to be fooled, not with elaborate hoaxes and skilled sleight of hand that is characteristic of the best magicians, but simply by good old-fashioned fear-mongering by Republicans. The hoax is more like, “Watch the shiny keys in my left hand (fear of the first Black president, Muslims, Blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, terrorists, the poor, socialism, death panels, anchor babies, Sharia law, unions, etc.),” while they pick your pocket with the right hand.

I am not a socialist (not that there is anything wrong or evil about being a socialist). The point is that the government does have a place in providing necessary services to ensure the well-being of the population. Capitalism has its place but cannot go unchecked. What’s good for business isn’t necessarily good for the people. Despite the economic meltdown, banks made billions of dollars and continue to make huge profits— while the American people are still struggling to recover.

Make no mistake, the Democratic Party has its allegiances to corporations also. However, the platform for most Democrats addresses the plight of working people and the poor. That’s a start. Holding elected officials accountable is the next step. The Republican Party, on the other hand, is a wholly owned subsidiary of “Big Business”, and in this two-party system, we are forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Answer me this. When was the last time the Republican Party proposed or passed legislation to invest in the prosperity of working/middle class in this country that was not tied to tax breaks for the rich?

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