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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sex, Lies, and Republican Government: Just How Corrupt Can They Be?

No You Can't: Republicans Offer Strong Alternatives to Democratic Policies
Image © Austin Cline
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The Republican Party is comprised of a number of different interests groups which have formed a coalition for the sake of winning elections, but not all of these groups see eye-to-eye on how to use that power once they achieve it. One major interest group consists of those who want to see the government largely eliminated because they don't think it can do any good. Another major interest group consists of those who want to use government power to benefit capital and increase the divide between haves and have-nots. So how do they manage to work together?

They seem to have stumbled across an interesting compromise, though I'm not sure how well it will work in the long run. Those who want to use government power for the sake of monied interests are allowed to go as far as they wish, while any scandals resulting from the wanton corruption are used by the "kill the government" faction as further rationale for their own goals. Why wanton corruption in corporations isn't treated as reason to kill them seems to be a question we're not supposed to ask. Maybe we should.

There is an inevitable tension here because too many scandals will deprive corporate Republicans of a tool they need to maintain the current economic system which keeps them in power, while too few scandals will deprive small-government Republicans of a tool they need to kill the current political system. Corporate Republicans need just enough scandals to keep their partners happy; small-government Republicans need to limit the number of scandals to keep their partners happy. In the end, can either side be really happy?

Another problem is the fact that this compromise is only meant to run on the institutional level, not the personal level. It's already a bit hypocritical for Republicans to keep asking voters to put them in charge of institutions they claim aren't any good, never mind that they promise to reform institutions they've been running for years. It's positively schizophrenic, though, for individual Republicans to both promise to be trustworthy, honorable politicians then turn around and demonstrate the most depraved and cynical sorts of personal and political corruption available.

The former is what we have with the recent problems in the Department of the Interior. Republicans there were given free rein to do as they wished when it came to how they ran the department (and of course in how they dealt with various sectors of the energy industry). This led to widespread corruption that is more reminiscent of Caligula than any of the more mundane corruption scandals that have been revealed about the Bush administration. Public servants were literally in bed with the oil industry and figuratively snorted coke off the backs off working Americans. I'm still waiting to find out if a horse was ever appointed undersecretary in some department.

The latter is what we appear to have with both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates from the Republican party. Who helped ensure that Cindy McCain didn't face same sort of justice for her drug abuse that would certainly be experienced by middle-class white Americans, never mind working-class minorities? There are accusations the John McCain himself stepped in with far-reaching abuses of power to protect his wife, which meant also protecting his source of money, his unknown number of houses, and of course his own political career. The only thing he may not have done is act as a middleman to procure more medication for her, but maybe he has servants for that?

Sarah Palin may have been picked for McCain's running mate because she's just as bogged-down with corruption baggage as he is. There seems to be strong evidence that she abused her power to ruin the career of her sister's ex-husband. Granted, the reports don't make him sound like a winner himself, but that would be no excuse for what she did. From what I've read about Republican politics in Alaska, making and ruining others' careers based on personal ties would probably just be par for the course. In that sense Palin may be a bit extreme for national Republican politics, but the mainstream in recent years has been moving closer to her position, so perhaps she is just ahead of the Republican personal and political corruption curve.

If we want to see just how corrupt Republicans can be, then we should definitely elect John McCain. His campaign has already engaged in record-breaking lies, both in terms of how many lies are being told and how blatant those lies are. I've been reliably informed that even the Chinese and Russian judges are suitably impressed, giving McCain and his campaign manager high marks. We can be confident that this lying would continue after they win and may even increase. There can also be little doubt that the personal and professional corruption would continue unchecked as well.

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