Republicans and their identity politics are destroying America
© Greg Nash

Instead of acknowledging facts, Republicans continue to perpetuate the racially-tinged myths that have gridlocked our government. Instead of acknowledging facts, Republicans choose to pontificate about the illegality of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), while simultaneously defending the unconstitutional racial profiling by Sheriff Joseph Arpaio and the unconstitutional muslim ban by President Trump.

What happened to any semblance of political consistency? Republicans shouldn’t have to add falsities into their arguments, but they choose to. Republicans shouldn’t have to play to insecurities and fears to drive their party’s agenda, but they choose to. Republicans shouldn’t be willing to trick and misinform voters to win a political battle, but they choose to. Republicans are making a choice.

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Rewriting our political and racial history using identity politics isn’t just immoral and dangerous, it’s a desperate choice. Identity politics are destroying our ability to have honest conversations. Identity politics are destroying our ability to govern. Identity politics are a tool for distracting away from actual policy debates.

 

Republicans know that it’s easier to distract than it is to discuss our obligations. Republicans know that nothing works more effectively to rile up the Republican base than identity politics. It’s no accident that Republican voters increasingly believe that the “takers” are lazy minorities who depend on the government and that immigrants here illegally are bleeding the system dry.

What Republican politicians don’t publicly acknowledge is that statistics show that approximately 40 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients are white Americans, and specifically, white southern Americans, many of whom are Republicans. If Republicans have the better argument, if Republicans have the better policies and if Republicans have the better ideas, shouldn’t they be able to rise above the identity politics that they purport to hate and argue facts?

Look no further than the health care debate for proof. Republican voters have been told repeatedly that a single-payer system would mean the end of the private markets. Republican voters have been told repeatedly that a single payer system means government-controlled health care. Republican voters have been lied to repeatedly. A single-payer system doesn’t mean the private market disappears, it just means that you don’t die if you can’t afford health insurance. It’s that simple. Isn’t that what being the greatest country in the world is all about? There’s nothing great about letting your citizens die from preventable and curable diseases, right?

As the most powerful nation in the history of the world, we can afford to improve the lives of all Americans. The question we must ask is whether that’s a priority. How we spend our money is directly tied to what kind of future we want to have and what kind of country we want to be. The notion that we can’t afford better schools, better roads, better health care and a better shot at the American dream isn’t outdated, it’s flat out wrong. We have choices.

We can afford what we want to afford. At the end of the day, our budget is a moral document. Our budget reflects our priorities and our preferences. Our budget reflects our fiscal and moral obligations. Republican politicians have made their choice, and now it’s our turn. If we want to pay for a public school system that isn’t funded in a way that keeps poor children in inadequately-funded schools, then that’s a choice that we can make. We can choose to give every child a real shot at climbing the economic ladder. We can choose to ensure that every American has access to medicine when they’re sick, food if they’re hungry and an education that not only informs them but prepares them to compete in an evolving marketplace. We have that choice.

We understand that we won’t meet the needs of everyone or be the answer to everyone’s prayers, but we can certainly try to be. We have that choice. Not everyone will maximize their full potential, but that’s not a reason to give up trying. Whether we like it or not, we are in this together. We sink or we swim together. In order to succeed, we must have a real conversation about everyone paying their fair share. If you can afford to fly on a private plane, you can afford to kick in a little more to the communal pot to ensure that we are meeting our obligations. That’s not redistributing wealth, that’s being part of something bigger than yourself.

We are the greatest country in the world, but with greatness comes an obligation. We are obligated to continue to strive to be greater. We are obligated to live up to our highest morals and the standard of greatness that we constantly espouse. Every other country in the world is trying to catch up to us. We cannot take our foot off the pedal. We cannot let up. Luckily, we have choices about how we move forward.

At some point, Republicans will run out of distractions. At some point, our problems will become so severe and debilitating that coy responses and allegations of fake news won’t be enough. At some point, the American people will demand answers. When that day comes, it won’t be enough to attack Colin Kaepernick for silently kneeling to show his disapproval of our country’s moral failures. When that day comes, it won’t be enough to throw around terms like “welfare queens” or “leeches,” as if we don’t understand dog-whistle politics.

When that day comes, it won’t be enough to mock and malign the dreamers, who are examples of what makes America truly great. When that day comes, Republicans will have to tell Americans what they stand for, not merely what they stand in opposition to. When that day comes, Republicans will have to answer for the decades of distractions, divisiveness and identity politics that have hurt countless Americans. When that day comes, it will be a truly great day. But until then, we have choices.

Michael Starr Hopkins is an attorney and former member of the presidential campaigns of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaReport: FCC chair to push for complete repeal of net neutrality Right way and wrong way Keystone XL pipeline clears major hurdle despite recent leak MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE. He regularly appears on Fox News and CNN to talk about national politics. You can follow him on Twitter @TheOnlyHonest.


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