The two parties of the War Party
Since Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has been defined by four issues:
- Overturn Roe v. Wade
- Gun owner rights
- Income tax cuts
If a Republican stands for those things, he’ll get a pass on anything else he wants to implement.
That’s why Republicans went from favoring “free” trade and fairly open immigration to the opposite. That’s why foreign policy often changed direction even during the same Republican Administration.
Just keep saying you’re pro-life, that Democrats will take your guns, that Democrats blame America for the evils in the world, that everyone should recite the Pledge of Allegiance and stand for the National Anthem, and that you should keep more of what you earn.
Donald Trump is different from Republican predecessors in lots of ways, but he checks off everything on the list. In the 2018 midterms, Republicans will come out to vote based on this four-point unofficial platform. It will be the same in 2020.
And then there are Democrats. I was trying to think: what do they stand for? What gets out the vote for them? How do you narrow it down?
Here are their issues come November, in no particular order except what quickly popped into my head::
- Gun control
- Climate Change (used to be called Global Warming)
- Medicare for All (used to be called Socialized Medicine, then Single-payer)
- Racist cops
- Gender wage gap
- Republicans are in league with Nazis or are Nazis
- Teacher pay
- Immigrant detainee camps/child separation
- Abortion rights/Planned Parenthood/ funding for contraceptives
- Trump is crazy/stupid/criminal
- Repeal tax cuts for the rich
- Refugees/Muslim tolerance
- LGBTQ rights
- Wealth inequality
- Money in politics
- Spending on infrastructure
From this laundry list I discern five themes that were similar ten, 20, 30 years ago, after the openly racist elements in the South and in northern labor unions pretty much left the party. These will probably be the same in 2020 and beyond:
- Preserve Roe vs. Wade
- Gun Control
- Civil rights
- More social welfare spending
Democrats can shift around on other policies, as do Republicans. For example, Democrats today may not be as proud of 1990’s crime bills they once supported. They, too, have been all over the map on trade; it seems like Trump is cribbing from Dick Gephardt. But you can always expect them to rhetorically support Roe and “common sense” gun laws, condemn and forbid discrimination, and call for more federal help for the poor and middle class.
The November election may turn on Kavanaugh. But no matter who wins, we’ll see very little movement over any of these issues Republicans and Democrats traditionally care about. What we’ll definitely see is:
- Billions of dollars sent to Israel.
- Sanctions and funding for outright military attacks on countries the Saudi royal family doesn’t like.
- Escalation of tensions with major powers to justify ever-bigger Defense budgets.
- More troops in more countries taking sides in civil wars that have nothing to do with us.
- Trillion-dollar budget deficits.
All of this will get heavy bipartisan support.
That’s why I call (and many others have called) Democrats and Republicans the two factions of the War Party, and they betray their own rhetoric when they go on the warpath.
Republicans can’t use the phrase “pro-life” when they support non-defensive war. And where’s the patriotism in putting Israeli and Saudi interests first? How does one demand tax cuts AND a balanced budget AND demand more and more for the military and surveillance agencies?
Democrats also lack credibility. Those are just crocodile tears for women, children, minorities, and the poor in America when Democrats also support oppression, sanctions, and bombing against helpless peoples abroad. Don’t pretend you can keep up this Defense spending and also afford expanded Medicare. Don’t support the largest polluter in the world — the Pentagon — and then claim you care for the environment.
If rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans continue to be complacent about war, they don’t realize the #1 problem facing United States and the world. They’re like a man who constantly gets into arguments at work, is rude to waitresses, insults the homeless, starts bar fights, and then comes home and complains that his family doesn’t get along with each other. Bullies shouldn’t expect to be happy.
The U.S. government has been a bully of one kind or another since its inception.
And a vote for either party is a vote for bullying. It’s a vote for endless war.