A former Republican legislative staffer has explained why he retired, and why he believes the GOP are “an apocalyptic cult.” (More)
Former Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren’s article at truthout has been making the rounds in progressive blogs and emails. Lofgren retired in June after 27 years on Capitol Hill, with the past 16 years spent as a Republican staffer on both the House and Senate Budget Committees. His comments are both revealing and disturbing.
For example, Lofgren writes that Republican obstructionism serves a larger and longer interest than merely blocking any useful policies that President Obama and Democrats might propose:
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.
Yes, an August CNN/Opinion Research showed voters disapproved of Republicans more than Democrats. Yet a Marist Poll from the same week showed 77% of Americans had less confidence in government to solve problems after the debt ceiling battle. Even if voters blame Republicans more than Democrats, that loss of confidence favors the ideology of Ronald Reagan: “Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
Lofgren also cites the spate of anti-voter laws spreading through state legislatures, and takes a de rigeur swipe at Democratic messaging, before moving to the core of his argument:
Thus far, I have concentrated on Republican tactics, rather than Republican beliefs, but the tactics themselves are important indicators of an absolutist, authoritarian mindset that is increasingly hostile to the democratic values of reason, compromise and conciliation. Rather, this mindset seeks polarizing division (Karl Rove has been very explicit that this is his principal campaign strategy), conflict and the crushing of opposition.
As for what they really believe, the Republican Party of 2011 believes in three principal tenets I have laid out below. The rest of their platform one may safely dismiss as window dressing:
1. The GOP cares solely and exclusively about its rich contributors. The party has built a whole catechism on the protection and further enrichment of America’s plutocracy. Their caterwauling about deficit and debt is so much eyewash to con the public.[…]
2. They worship at the altar of Mars. While the me-too Democrats have set a horrible example of keeping up with the Joneses with respect to waging wars, they can never match GOP stalwarts such as John McCain or Lindsey Graham in their sheer, libidinous enthusiasm for invading other countries.[…]
3. Give me that old time religion. Pandering to fundamentalism is a full-time vocation in the GOP. Beginning in the 1970s, religious cranks ceased simply to be a minor public nuisance in this country and grew into the major element of the Republican rank and file.[…]
Each section is a detailed critique of the the legs of the GOP stool: economic, national security, and social values conservatism. However, Lofgren pins most of the blame on the third part. By wrapping plutocracy and militarism in the cloak of religion, Lofgren argues, those GOP policies have become articles of faith on a par with fundamentalist Christianity itself, making them immune to evidence, criticism, or compromise.
Lofgren concludes that he retired out of “rational self-interest,” and explains:
Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and “shareholder value,” the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP’s decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.
He goes on to challenge the naïveté of those who doubt Republicans want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare, saying:
They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” – and that doesn’t mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.
I disagree with some of Lofgren’s points, such as his footnoted charge of Democratic cowardice. But if you want to know what animates Republican policy, Lofgren’s analysis is worth reading in full.