Home | Opinion | Columnists | Markos Moulitas

Them versus us

Republicans certainly haven’t hidden their fury at billionaire Warren Buffett for suggesting that super-rich folks — like him! — should shoulder more of the load of balancing our nation’s finances. And their rage has only intensified now that President Obama has adopted the Buffett plan as his own.

“If he’s feeling guilty about it, I think he should send in a check,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” “But we don’t want to stagnate this economy by raising taxes.” Of course, there’s no evidence that raising taxes stagnates the economy. Just look at the Clinton-era boom, which followed an increase on upper-income tax brackets. Moreover, the Bush recession serves as evidence that tax cuts for the rich don’t stimulate the economy.

ADVERTISEMENT
But Republicans cast their lot with the richest Americans, shielding them from shouldering any of the supposed “shared” sacrifice they demand from everyone else. Hence they wail about class warfare. “Pitting one group of Americans against another is not leadership,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) complained.

Pitting Americans against one another? Republicans know a little something about that, given that their core philosophy can be boiled down to “They want to take away your money!” But that’s just one face of the GOP’s divisive them-vs.-us approach to politics.

These are the same Republicans who built their entire electoral strategy over the last several decades around exploiting racial resentment in the South. This “Southern Strategy” eventually led to the mass defection of the Dixiecrats to the GOP. Today, the number of white Southern Democrats is in single digits, with numbers guaranteed to shrink even further next year.

These are the same Republicans who pit union members against other Americans, stoking resentment at the better wages and benefits enjoyed by those who organize. Rather than work to make organizing easier, to lift the standard of living of all Americans, they divide workers at the behest of their corporatist friends.

These are the same Republicans who have declared entire regions of the country unacceptable — from San Francisco, Berkeley, Hollywood, Chicago, Austin and other urban centers to the entire state of Massachusetts. They even fantasize — as Texas Gov. Rick Perry has — of seceding from the United States when they deem our nation insufficiently conservative. 

These are the same Republicans who have embraced bigotry against gay Americans, declaring them inferior not just in their minds, but in the laws of the land. They deny equal treatment under the law, while using cynical and divisive anti-gay ballot measures to drive their bigoted vote on Election Day. 

These are the same Republicans who stoke fears against brown immigrants, irrespective of legal status. They pass laws that allow law enforcement to single out Americans simply because of the color of their skin or the gods they worship, and are even attempting to circumvent the U.S. Constitution’s freedom of religion and birthright citizenship. The Constitution is sacred — unless it gets in the way of pitting Americans against one another.

These are the same Republicans who cheered the death of an uninsured man at the Republican Tea Party debate last week, because nothing brings Americans together like saying, “Given the choice, I’d rather my neighbors die than have my taxes go up to provide true universal healthcare.” 

Where is the GOP’s leadership in all that? It’s tragic that rather than bring America together to fix what ails the country, Republicans merely seek to stoke a class divide that has withered the nation’s middle class.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).