by Richard Crews
The Republican Party or GOP (the "Grand Old Party") is one of the two enormous, overriding forces in American politics (the other being, of course, the Democratic Party). The Republican Party has traditionally espoused conservative values. (The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has traditionally been associated with liberal or progressive values.)
The basic perspective of political conservatism is sensible: Government can't do everything, and it is always possible to make things worse--so when you govern, proceed slowly and cautiously.
A more formal and precise definition is provided by the WikiPedia: "Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society."
Although one can hear this basic perspective in the rhetoric of present-day Republican politicians in Washington, the day-to-day reality of their activities has become more a matter of pandering to the rich and powerful (who pay for costly election campaigns) at the expense of the elderly, the infirm, and generally of the not-so-wealthy.
Brian Beutler writes for TPMDC (a political blog), "House Republicans voted Friday [April 15, 2011] in favor of a vision of the future without Medicare [health care for the elderly and disabled], with a significantly eroded Medicaid [health care for the poor], and with lower taxes on wealthy Americans."
With the pretense of promoting cautious government, the Republicans have--
opposed fair taxation,
undermined environmental and consumer protections,
minimized regulation of the greedy excesses of Wall Street,
interfered with women's and minority rights,
tried to defeat lobbying and campaign-finance reforms, and
opposed and sought to undermine universal health insurance.
What's "wrong" with the GOP is not the conservative philosophy they pretend to promote, it is that their activities in fact favor big-money interests at the expense, frankly, of everyone else--in effect, at the expense of American Values and of sharing, as broadly as we wish we could, the American Dream.
Bun Gladieux, president of the Presssure Positive Company, has a blog with an interesting series of topics.
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