It has been evident for some time but became more apparent in the faces of Republicans listening to the State of the Union address in the House chamber last night. The Grand Old Party has fully embraced hate as its political brand. Whether for reasons of partisan animus or just outright racial bigotry, the Republican Party that exists today harbors deep hatred and resentment toward President Obama and by extension, the constituencies that are the President’s base – Blacks, women, Latinos and working class Americans.
How else can you explain the grim and tight expressions on the face of Republicans last night when the President boldly called for gender equality? It makes you wonder what’s in the water in the Republican caucus rooms in the Capitol that provokes such an extreme dislike and disrespect of women among its white men. And it makes you question how white women Republicans can tolerate such disrespect. There is something both bizarre and frightening about a group of people that can be so out of touch in the 21st century. The President’s message on equal pay for women is not about feminism, as so many in the Republican Party use as a reason to object, but is principally about human rights.
What is very clear is that the Republican Party is aligned against “we the people” and has cast its lot with individuals and institutions that are invested in human exploitation and abuse. The GOP sees access to basic sustenance – food – as a privilege that must be earned even if it means cutting off food stamps from adults, and children, who will go hungry without government support. Republicans rail against “Obamacare” but are silent over disproportional mortality rates based on race, the hardships faced by the elderly and the needs of children. And while the GOP cast the Affordable Care Act as socialized medicine Republicans in Congress take full advantage of their federally provided health plans. Despite glaring wage differentials between men and women, Republicans on the Hill persist with an “Ozzie and Harriett” mentality that works to make women perpetually subservient.
What was on full display last night on the Republican side of the chamber was the full disdain of the party for the masses of Americans outside the confines of privilege and entitlement, and the new America that is emerging. The party only makes concessions on immigration because it views Latinos as a possible electoral constituency. Beyond that minor act of “decency,” the Republican Party stands opposed to any effort to further equalize opportunity and economic security beyond their narrow definition of deserving Americans. This is the reality we face in 2014 and the one that we must now accept and push back against going forward.
Republicans have created an infrastructure to preserve the entitlement of its white male minions that includes a cadre of willing female partners on the Hill. The GOP is also assisted by a cable television news channel, the Fox News Network, which is a national embarrassment for its shameless stream of misinformation and legions of right-wing idiots on radio airwaves. To further inoculate itself from charges that it is racist and sexist, the Republican Party now has a defense in the brigade of blonde women and Blacks willing to do its bidding while the GOP marginalizes women and Blacks. And fueling the Republican hate machine is a cadre of wealthy white males who gleefully prime the political pump by supporting politicians and institutions that will in return protect their privileged status.
The Republican Party has become the ultimate Billionaire (White) Boys Club and while there are Democrats in Congress of significant personal wealth, the GOP personifies greed and white entitlement. Their only purpose in holding office is to protect the status quo and enlarge their already outsized advantage. It is why we see the continuous attacks on affirmative action, on public education, on income equality and voting rights. What opportunity that might have existed in recasting the GOP has been lost because the Republican Party has no credibility on the issues that align with expanding opportunity in America for groups that have been traditionally disadvantaged by institutional racism and punitive social policy.
Last night’s State of the Union speech drew a stark comparison between the America that was and that some are clinging to, and the America that we are destined to become. For once this President made clear that he will not wait for people who have no intention of acting in decency and in the best interest of the majority Americans. It is time we all left them behind.