Mike Lofgren retired this summer after 28 years as a congressional staffer, 16 of which he spent on the Republican side working with the House and Senate budget committees, and he wants to tell you something about the nature of the current Republican Party. Namely, that it has become a lunatic enterprise, different from that of the Democratic Party, through the willingness of its members to engage in any fantasy that suits them.
The author is correct in drawing a distinction between Republicans and Democrats. But perhaps Republicans’ actions are best understood if we refrain from psychological evaluations and consider motivation instead, which would suggest we are witnessing the behavior of unscrupulous, calculating careerists. —ARK
Mike Lofgren at Truthout:
Barbara Stanwyck: “We’re both rotten!”
Fred MacMurray: “Yeah—only you’re a little more rotten.”—“Double Indemnity” (1944)
Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten—how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats’ health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats’ rank capitulation to corporate interests—no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele [Bachmann] (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.