The decision by the Republican National Convention not to seat the Paul delegates hits home for me. Much like many other people who have placed their faith in the Republican Party of the past two or three decades, they have been betrayed. My father is a former Republican and agrees with me. I imagine my grandfather, a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who served as a judge, would also agree – but he is not around to ask.
Many people who consider themselves Republicans do so based on a rather simple belief system, one which I actually would like to agree with. They believe that if you just work hard and play by the rules, that you will succeed and become part of the middle class. That used to be true for the most part but it isn’t anymore. Even in their own convention, to their own delegates, when the results of Maine’s vote cannot change the outcome – they marginalized even their own activists. Playing by the rules doesn’t matter to them anymore. It seems like to win at their game now you need to cheat. Democracy no longer is the game we play, but plutocracy. Whoever has the money makes the rules.
They do so at their own peril. Given enough time, the average voter catches on, and from my time knocking on doors I would say they are beginning to figure out just what’s going on. And that includes the Republicans; they aren’t blind. People like Mitt Romney push tax policies that benefit the richest Americans and raise everyone else’s bills. They do so under the guise of “rugged individualism”, the belief that we don’t need anyone, we can just do it all ourselves. Mitt’s father George once referred to rugged individualism as “nothing but a political banner to cover up greed”. And he was right. George Romney understood something the Republican Party has since forgotten – the value of the social contract and of our communities. He understood how his employees made him wealthy, and so he took enough for himself and gave the rest to them.
George knew we needed to be in the game together, not all playing for ourselves. It’s no wonder that we spend all our time debating over whether low-income women deserve welfare checks or whether teachers make too much money. There are powerbrokers at the top, bipartisan powerbrokers, people with lots of money that have decided the best way to keep most of their money is to keep most of us divided. They force us to fight among ourselves for an ever-shrinking piece of the pie.
So they pit non-union workers against those in unions, public sector workers against private sector, those who favor marriage equality against those who do not. They pump billions of dollars into political advertising designed to make us do nothing but react against the people we see as our opponents and do everything we can to beat them. And then they extend tax cuts for the wealthy for another decade and snicker at the rest of us as we fight one another to survive.
I have more in common with most Republicans than I do with plutocrats. Admittedly, we disagree more than we agree. But we all want enough money to provide for our families and to live with dignity. I would say to Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike – let’s pull back the curtain and see who’s there. I think it’s high time that we “common folk” – the disaffected middle class – shake the halls of power and place them back into our hands, not the hands of wealthy interests who only have their own interests at heart.
A quote from a great president, Progressive Republican Teddy Roosevelt: “Of all forms of tyranny the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of plutocracy.”
I would argue this country does need a change, but it isn’t based on red states or blue states. It’s whether or not the middle class will continue to endure the tyranny of the wealthy.