(Photo: Steve A Johnson / Flickr)At some point in the next few weeks, we should all expect the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to quietly take down the American flag hanging behind the Speaker’s rostrum and replace it with a new flag – one that’s emblazoned with money signs instead of stars and bars. It will be the new national flag of Billionaire-istan (a loosely-associated nation existing in various parts of the world where there are private airports, resorts, and only billionaires allowed).
Quiet murmurs among Republican insiders before the 2012 election, are now anxious shrieks asking, “What the heck is wrong with the Republican Party?!”
A few weeks ago, former Reagan and George W. Bush adviser, Bruce Bartlett lashed out at his Party (which he has now been excommunicated from) saying, “The Republican Party was the Party of ideas and now it’s the Party of crazy people, ignorant Tea Party people – people who know nothing and are proud of it.”
Earlier this month, Charlie Crist, who as recently as 2010 was a popular Republican Governor in Florida, switched parties and joined the Democrats saying, “What changed is the leadership of the Republican Party…I didn’t leave the Republican Party, it left me.”
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Even current Republican Members of Congress are openly talking about what’s wrong with their Party.
After Speaker of the House John Boehner’s “Plan B” failed last week, thus proving that even the smallest tax increase on the smallest group of rich Americans can’t pass the Republican House, Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette blasted the Tea Party wing of his Party saying, “It’s the continuing dumbing-down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we’re putting forward.” He singled out, “40 chuckleheads that all year…have screwed this place up.”
And in the editorial pages of today’s Financial Times, an op-ed asking about the future of the Republican Party describes the faltering party this way: “Today’s Republican party is a bit like a headless body striking out blindly against change.”
With this sort of talk making the rounds serious publications like the Financial Times, clearly, something is wrong. The Republican Party, which thought it was headed for a big night in November, ended up getting creamed, losing the presidency, seats in the Senate, and receiving more than a million fewer votes in the House than Democrats. In fact, the only reason Republican still have a majority in the House is because Republican state legislatures in places like Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio gerrymandered the Congressional districts to neutralize Democratic voters.
In America, the Republican Party is following in the footsteps of the 19th Century Whig Party, rapidly descending into irrelevance.
But, in the fledgling new nation of Billionaire-istan, the Republican Party is achieving new prominence, and has staked out its position as the ruling Party of this tiny nation comprised of extremely wealthy American ex-pats.
The problem with the Republican Party, as we knew it, is that a handful of billionaires have taken it over and are using it to push the interests of their exclusive little nation of Billionaire-istan at the expense of our nation, the United States. Arguably, at the expense of the entire world, which is why a London-based publication like the Financial Times is so concerned.
It’s oligarchs like the Koch brothers who’ve given fortunes to the Republican Party to re-focus the party on Billionaire-istan. And banksters like Paul Singer and John Paulsen. There’s billionaire Harold Simmons who’s now making a fortune storing nuclear waste in the United States (not in Billionaire-istan areas, of course). He’s given tens of millions to the Republican Party. There’s foreign casino-magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who spent more money than anyone else in the history of our elections trying to get Republicans into office. He wants to make sure the United States Justice Department can’t get its hands on him across the border in Billionaire-istan.
Understanding the Republican Party in this way answers a lot of question about how the Party is behaving today.
Why the Republican intransigence on Capitol Hill as our nation hurdles toward self-inflicted economic wounds? It’s because Residents of Billionaire-istan don’t give a damn about the so-called “fiscal cliff” or the debt-limit. The billionaires’ taxes won’t go up because they don’t pay the same income taxes that working people do; they have their carried interest and capital gains loopholes, so, like Romney, their income taxes are capped out at less than half that of working people.
Billionaire-istanis could care less about cuts to social insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security. With billions in their bank accounts (some offshore), they already have their retirement and health insurance covered. And they pay virtually nothing in taxes to keep these programs alive.
Billionaire-istanis don’t give a damn about crumbling infrastructure. They have their private jets, which can fly over congested roads and crumbling bridges.
Billionaire-istanis aren’t bothered by cuts to public education. They send their kids to the most elite private schools.
And, ultimately, Billionaire-istanis could care less about the American economy. They make most of their money abroad anyway, in developing nations where they’ve outsourced what were once American jobs and American factories. And they keep it stashed in offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. If the United States collapses, Billionaire-istan will be just fine.
So, if you look at the Republican Party from the perspective of the Billionaire-istanis, there’s nothing wrong with it at all. The Republican toadies are doing all they can to protect Billionaire-istan from the American working people.
But for those of us still left in the United States, who are watching the Billionaire-istani’s take our wealth out of America job-by-job, factory-by-factory, commons-by-common, it’s time we wake up to what’s really happened to the Republican Party. Their allegiance is no longer to the United States of America, but now to the residents of Billionaire-istan. They’ve become an insurgent Party, and a fringe one at that.
So, it’s up to the only real political party left in America, the Democratic Party, to reclaim its roots and launch an all-out assault on Billionaire-istan – not with bombs and secret police, but with new wealth taxes, regulations, and protections for workers. If they don’t, the residents of Billionaire-istan will soon finish their job of looting everything of even marginal value that’s left in America.