These feelings are manifested in wildly popular programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all aimed at ensuring the most prosperous nation in history cares for its old, its poor, and its sick.
So what feelings motivate conservatives? As reported by Associated Press this week, anger, resentment and bitterness appear to be their chief drivers.
And what is the fruit of their churlishness?
The 112th Congress recently wrapped up its two-year session as the most unproductive since the infamous “Do-Nothing Congress” of 1947. While the nation languished, the GOP-led House sat on its hands as Senate Republicans threatened to filibuster any legislation that would help jump start the economy, their leader’s stated goal to make President Obama a one-termer.
To that end, House and Senate Republicans blocked the president’s jobs bill. They blocked and defeated the Fair Pay Act. They blocked the Small Business Jobs Act twice. They blocked health care for 9/11 first responders and they blocked the unemployment extension bill. They even blocked benefits for homeless veterans. But they did vote to repeal Obamacare 33 times.
Republicans hoped voters wouldn’t notice, that they could blame Obama for inaction as Sen. Saxby Chambliss did this week, but their scheme backfired badly.
They not only failed to oust the president, they lost seats in the House and Senate, then, finally teetering on the edge of the fiscal cliff, Republicans were compelled to do what Obama had been asking for all along, letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans.
The response from far right ideologues? Why, more anger, of course. “People are mad as hell,” Amy Kremer, chair of the Tea Party Express told AP. “I’m right there with them.”
Once again, the bellicose tea party tail is wagging the whipped GOP dog. “Anybody that voted ‘yes’ in the House should be concerned” about primary challenges in 2014, warned Kremer.
House Speaker John Boehner tried to mollify right wingers by tabling a vote to approve relief funds for victims of Superstorm Sandy, symbolic payback for Northeastern Republicans who’d voted for the tax hike.
New Jersey’s Republican governor and notorious hothead, Chris Christie, went ballistic when he learned of Boehner’s attempt to punish pragmatic Republicans, condemning his party’s “toxic internal politics.”
They couldn’t take down Obama so, like a pack of wolves driven mad with starvation, Republicans have turned on each other, attacking those who worked with Democrats to avoid throwing the economy into a second deep recession.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-east Cobb) was among the first to bare his fangs on his blue-state GOP colleagues.
“If you look at the votes that were ‘yes’ on the Republican side — there were 85 of them.” Price declared in a radio interview. “Seventy of them come from blue states. I think this is a red state-blue state issue. I think we need red-state representation in both our leadership as well as the organizing committees that we have.”
Meantime, conservatives like Chambliss are promising another debt ceiling fight that could shut down government and trigger a worldwide economic crisis if they don’t get the deeps cuts they’re demanding to the aforementioned social safety net.
Another bad idea says, of all people, Newt Gingrich, who paid a steep political price for shutting down the government 20 years ago.
“Everybody’s now talking about, ‘Oh, here comes the debt ceiling,’” said Gingrich on MSNBC. “I think that’s, frankly, a dead loser. Because in the end, you know it’s gonna happen.”
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.