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Political Culture of War

January 19th, 2013

Republicans are trying a new strategy: Democrats must agree to our budget plans, or else we with withhold everyone’s pay.

There are arguments about the plan’s constitutionality, but that’s not the issue for me. The issue I think is more important is that the tactic is being used in an abusive manner—literally, for extortion. Just as they have used other tactics, like shutdowns and defaulting on the debt.

Democrats agreed to a pay stoppage a few years back, but that was supported by both parties, and was a fairness issue—if no government workers got paid during a shutdown, then members of Congress would be no different.

The current plan is different, in that it is being used to extort. Nothing new for Republicans, this has been so for almost 20 years since the government shutdown under the Clinton administration.

The idea of Congress is very simple: if an idea is good enough for half the members to approve, it gets passed. In order to make such deals happen, both houses must agree. Congress was always intended to be a place where compromises took place in the name of fairness and equity, in the best interests of the people and the nation.

Conservatives have taken a flamethrower to that concept. Screw the people. Screw the nation. Give us what we want, or else we’ll burn it all down.

Republicans, unhappy at losing any battle, have defied the system, defied the very concept of Democracy itself. They have made any law they dislike have to pass a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate. In order to get their way, they have started holding hostage everything they can get their hands on, constitutionally or not. If there’s something important to the nation that they can destroy, they’ll hold a gun to its head unless they get what they want. And unlike a criminal hostage-taker, they don’t get arrested and removed from the equation; instead, they get to keep taking the same hostage time and time again, and then released back out to do it all over again.

It’s the same in the states, with votes. Can’t win an election? Then win state houses enough to gerrymander the hell out of those states. Too many Democrats voting? Then limit voting hours and voting resources at times and places they vote. Still losing? Then bring back Jim Crow, bigger and better than ever—pass laws that target Democratic voters under fraudulent pretexts and throw obstacles in their way. Still not winning? Hey, we can game the electoral system, changing how key states apportion their votes in the most extremely convoluted ways so that even if we lose the popular vote by a wide margin, we can still will more electoral votes. Make it so Democrats have to win by 10 million votes to eke out a victory electorally.

For Republicans, it is not about majority rule. It’s not about what the people want. And Democracy? Fuck Democracy.

It’s about what Republicans want, and how they can get it. Bend the rules, twist the rules, break the rules, whatever works for them. Even the pretexts are falling away as Republicans openly gloat about subverting the vote.

For Republicans, governing is war, and you win by whatever means necessary.

  1. Troy
    January 19th, 2013 at 13:04 | #1

    For Republicans, governing is war, and you win by whatever means necessary.

    well, that’s politics I think.

    It’s easy winning the majority when you pander to it and/or bullshit people (like how Democrats came around in support of NAFTA).

    Democrats haven’t covered themselves in glory actually governing wisely since 1993!

    We could and should raise taxes a lot on the wealthy, but that alone isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with this nation, we need to raise taxes a lot across the board.


    red line is real per-worker government spending (2012 dollars)
    blue is real per-worker government revenue

    Taxes need to be raised ~$8000 per worker — well, maybe $4000 plus another $4000 on corporations etc.

    This is not to defend conservatives per se, they don’t have any answers to the primary problems this nation is facing — in fact, their policy preferences will actively make things worse (global warming, rising income disparity aka predatory capitalism, trade deficits).

    The main challenge is the actual problems this country needs to get fixed aren’t being put on the agenda, as it were.

    Everbody — left, right, & center — is just so f—ing clueless.

  2. Troy
    January 19th, 2013 at 17:00 | #2

    To compare the US’s $28,000 per-worker central gov’t expense, we can look at Japan.

    You guys have a ¥90T/yr budget and 62M workers, or $16,000 of gov’t expense per worker. So the US is spending almost twice per worker what Japan is!

    (and that’s at ¥90 yen, using a more realistic ¥120 exchange rate lowers that to $12,000 per Japanese worker)

    The US doesn’t have just a taxation problem, it also has a major spending problem. And what’s worse, this spending is mainly what’s keeping our economy above water — so we don’t dare cut it even if it is so very wasteful in terms of actual useful wealth accretion.


    is an interesting analysis of Japan’s government debt picture. Basically you guys REALLY need to double taxes across the board. But Abe is going the other way now . . .

    (I don’t even pretend to understand what’s up with Japan this decade or next. I don’t think Spain/Greece style disaster austerity is coming, much more likely is just another zero being added to prices (and wages) somehow, since that would fix most problems)

    btw, even though the US has a $28,000/worker gov’t expense, we also have a $120,000 PER WORKER GDP:


    is real GDP per worker and shows GDP has risen $30,000 per worker since 1995. (!)

    Problem is all these productivity gains are being siphoned off by “the 1%”!

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