The GOP’s message of Social Darwinism

To the Editor:

The 2012 campaign illustrates two oft-quoted maxims: that war is a continuation of politics by other means, and that truth is the first casualty of war.

It’s more than the usual question about which party will occupy the White House for the next four years. The campaign has become a civil war — minus the bloodshed — over what kind of America this will be for a long time to come.

The Republican Party, its former “big tent” converted into a death chamber for dissent, single-mindedly idealizes an America where wealth is a measure not just of success but of one’s value to society. Whatever stands in the way of wealth — whether taxes or regulation — is to be rooted out. 

The Democrats still believe that we Americans owe more than that to each other, to our children, to our future, to our planet.

No one alive has experienced a choice so clear or so stark. That’s the one thing on which the parties agree: it’s about changing the future. Whether for better or for worse is for the voters to decide.

But the Republicans don’t trust the voters to make that choice intelligently. If they did, they wouldn’t be lying so much and so often about whether President Obama repealed welfare’s work requirement or “raided” Medicare of $716-billion.

My side has shot from the hip too, but not nearly so flagrantly or persistently.

The Medicare issue, one of five falsehoods that Paul Ryan spoke to the Republican convention, has long since been effectively debunked by Consumers Union and dozens of media fact-checkers. But the Republicans are on record as saying they’re not going to let fact-checkers run their campaign, and so there was Ryan, retelling that big lie. I also found it reeking in my mail box last week and heard it in a Romney-Ryan robocall.

Ryan’s own budget incorporated the same $716 billion in savings, but of course hypocrisy is just another form of deceit. The truth is that Obamacare added new benefits to traditional Medicare, such as wellness visits and cancer screenings, and took none away. The savings will come from reducing overpayments to Medicare advantage plans, hospitals that because of Obamacare will no longer have to treat so many uninsured patients, and certain other providers.

The Romney-Ryan Medicare canard symbolizes the Republican attempt to insert generational warfare into the class struggle that they began. They want to peel off senior voters by assuring us that our Medicare and Social Security benefits would be safe in their hands, so long as we let them have their way with people not yet 55.

Do the Republicans truly take us to be that selfish? Are they betting that we don’t care as much for our children and grandchildren?

Yes, they do. Yes, they are. Is it surprising that a party pledged to Social Darwinism as national policy should be encouraging voters to look out only for themselves? 

Martin A. Dyckman


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