The Silver Lining in the Toxic Cloud

The party of Lincoln is smoldering wreckage, strewn across the political landscape. The casualties are not yet counted, but they will certainly include GOP candidates for U.S. Senate and other offices downstream to the state and local levels.

The suicide bomber who perpetrated this disaster is currently a candidate for leader of the free world, which he has vowed to make less free for people who do not fit his definition of ‘us.’ But his racist, sexist, xenophobic, atavistic message is not selling on the national stage.

If the United States does not end up with a foul-mouthed, spray-tanned president, where is the bad news? Well, if you believe in a two party system, we are down to one.

Since the so-called Reagan Revolution of the 1980s, the Republican Party apparatus has become a disciplined, well-paid, highly effective agency for advancing the interests of a tiny clique. The political priorities of this grouplet begin and end with money. They want to keep what they have and get more. That’s what tax cuts for the rich and ‘small government’ are all about.

Much of the wealth behind the movement conservative agenda is derived from fossil fuel. That explains why the activist billionaires and their proxies are so committed to pretending that our climate has not been destabilized by greenhouse gas emissions.

If you want to survey the damage that the billionaires have done to us, look at public education. From kindergarten through high school, our children have been shortchanged in the name of tax reform for at least two generations. Our once vaunted public universities are stretched thin. The cost of higher education has been loaded on the backs of students in the form of crushing debt.

Then check out our roads and bridges or basic research or the space program. Everywhere you look you will find disinvestment, deferred maintenance, decline and decay. You can thank the billionaire movement for all of this.

Many of the votes that supported the conservative machine came from rural Americans and blue-collar workers. Unfortunately the economy that was enriching billionaires was impoverishing them. Along came a real estate charlatan from New York who agreed that folks were getting screwed. Of course he pointed the finger of blame in the wrong direction, i.e. at immigrants and minorities rather than the Koch brothers and their ilk, but no matter. Millions of voters who had no vested interest in the conservative Republican platform put on red hats and ran off the reservation. The party was over.

What now? Perhaps we can put together a new coalition of young people, women, minorities and a few crazy old white guys that will take action on climate change and repair our looted society. Stay tuned.