The Republican Presidential primary has unmasked one astonishingly ugly facet after another in the GOP’s character, leaving the party’s soul stripped bare of any moral pretense and revealing, at its core, an appalling indifference to — even a smug pleasure in — human suffering.
Consider what has been on display in just three months of debates and campaigning.
We’ve watched a party driven by fear and greed, and more important, obsessed with feelings ranging from indifference to anger to hate for the “other.” The “other,” the objects of their hostiltiy are women, blacks and latinos, the poor and uninsured, students attending college, gays, all government workers especially teachers, scientists, unions, liberals, environmental/health/safety advocates, and most of all, the not-really-true-Christians, especially that half-black unAmerican who presumes to be President of a country he stole from its true freedom-loving Christian stewards. That’s a lot of hating going on there, and we’re seeing it all come out.
Now we can add to the list of those whose well-being is not important to the Republican Party: 20 million unemployed Americans. Via National Journal (emphasis mine):
“We need a candidate who’s going to be a fighter for freedom. Who’s going to get up and make that the central theme in this race because it is the central theme in this race,” Santorum told a crowd of about 200 voters during a rally here on Monday. “I don’t care what the unemployment rate’s going to be. Doesn’t matter to me. My campaign doesn’t hinge on unemployment rates and growth rates. It’s something more foundational that’s going on.”
[updated] That was followed by this clarification:
“Of course I care about the unemployment rate. I want the unemployment rate to go down, but I’m saying, my candidacy doesn’t hinge on whether the unemployment rate goes up and down,” he said. “Our candidacy’s about something that transcends that; its about freedom, its not about, you know, Governor Romney’s idea that he’s going to fix the economy which is something that, of course, we as Republicans don’t believe that presidents fix the economy; we believe that we try to do things to create an atmosphere for the economy to fix itself.”
Huh. So Republicans don’t believe they can actively “fix the economy,” which would come as a surprise to every GOP President who deliberately chose economic policies (often Keynes and/or Friedman) to foster growth, boost employment, raise interest rates to slow inflation, increase exports and so on. So today’s GOP is just being consistent when it votes en masse against spending money to relieve all the suffering or put people back to work. That only helps people the GOP views as undeserving and envious. Better to give tax cuts to the wealthiest of the wealthy and trust them to decide how much to trickle down to the undeserving.
To be sure, the unprincipled Mitt Romney, campaigning in Illinois and not South Carolina, and realizing the opportunity presented by Santorum’s brutal honesty, was quick to say, “I care.” Sure you do, Mitt.
In one of the few worthwhile acts of his life, Newt Gingrich exposed Mitt Romney’s caring and economic competence for its vulturous, looting essence; Mitt knows how to strip struggling companies of their assets and lay off their workers. His instincts are on record: let millions of homeowners default and lose their homes and bankrupt an entire industry just to destroy its unions. But he knows nothing about how to revive an economy after a financial meltdown and put tens of millions back to work. His economic policy is to simply lie about his opponent.
Perry, Cain and Bachman, like Sarah Palin before them, exposed the ignorance of the religious zealots, yet they embarrassed even the know-nothings in the Tea-GOP. Perry is now back home in the nation’s worst insured state depriving millions of women of essential health care, while Tea-GOP governors and legislators maintain a vicious assault on government workers, women’s reproductive rights and just simple respect for women’s/gays’ dignity and equality.
What we’re seeing is not just an appalling indifference to human suffering; they seem to extract some pleasure in the misery and humiliation they force others to suffer. There is not even a veneer of “compassionate conservatism” left in this crowd. They’re proposing statutory rape for women who seek abortions. What we’re seeing is the unvarnished truth of a party drowning in its own self righteouness and exposed for its cruelty to just about everyone.
And what of Mr. Santorum’s notion of freedom as somehow transcendent, a more foundational virtue than relieving human suffering among those he disrespects? It’s gibberish. As Glenn Smith wrote at Firedoglake, the GOP is at war with any meaningful notion of freedom, and Santorum sees himself as the Christian soldiers’ Commander in Chief. Never mind “the kiss,” listen to what he says: