Eugene Paslov: The strategy for unraveling the nation
Our Democratic Republic is fragile. To maintain the institution it needs constant attention and support. If support erodes, the system of government itself is at risk.The anti-government rhetoric takes hold. The crescendo against taxes drowns out reasonable citizen needs. People are afraid to work for government because jobs don’t pay well and are subject to derision by Republican policy-makers. Or government’s lack of resources doesn’t allow people to be hired. Government agencies can’t function well. The federal, state and local governments slowly begin to unravel. Federal and state employment levels are now at their lowest in decades. I saw recently in the New York Times ( 9-27-12) that state archivists are losing their jobs. Georgia, whose state records go back to the 1600s, runs the risk of losing its history. There is no way to preserve state historical records without skilled state personnel. History will be lost. History lost is history made irretrievable. History remembers (and interprets) what people and events said and did to make a difference. States need their history to plan their future. The loss is profound.This anti-government, anti-taxes sentiment, has been with us for a long time. But it seems in the past few years it has become even more reactionary, deliberately hateful.When President Obama was elected, Republican leadership in Congress immediately initiated a plan to obstruct any legislative action the president proposed. They wanted to make him a one-term president (Sen. Mitch McConnell made it his first and only priority) and the Republican leadership demanded their caucus not cooperate with the president’s party on any important legislation. In 2009, President Obama had to drive his agenda with only the Democratic members of Congress to save the country’s economic, fiscal, and auto industries. No cooperation from the congressional Republicans. The president managed to get the affordable care act enacted, saved the auto industry, provided infrastructure stimulus (3.5 million jobs created), and prevented the banks and financial institutions from going belly-up. The Republicans said “no.” The president’s decisions were not popular but necessary to save the Republic. The Congressional Republicans screamed and incessantly blamed the president for everything that had befallen the country (virtually all of it caused by their past policies). They called for his head. They offered no ideas other than those that had failed in the past during the George W. Bush administration (balanced budget, tax breaks for the rich, cut budgets impacting middle class). They assumed no responsibility. As a strategy, they blamed the president 24 hours a day. “Lies repeatedly told are lies eventually believed.”In 2010, the Republicans regained the House with numerous Tea Party members in tow. Not a particularly enlightened group. They had little knowledge of how government functioned. They had less interest in the work of Congress — developing policy, making laws work through negotiation and bipartisan compromise. To this day these Tea Party types resist taxes, rail against progressive programs to help those who need assistance (Governor Romney’s 47 percent), and have no understanding of bipartisanship. They are anti-government/anti-tax advocates, opposing federal innovations in education, promulgating anti-science movements and demeaning the notion of climate change. They also seem interested in another Middle East war. Their handlers (Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, et.al.) have taken over the top of the Republican ticket. No civil discourse in sight.If we don’t get rid of these bogus Congressional representatives and their behind-the-scenes supporters in statehouses in 2012 (or whenever possible), we will end up furthering diminishing our Republic. This may be the most important presidential election in our history. A few power brokers have funneled unprecedented amounts of money (Citizens United) to the purpose of changing our system of government: deregulate industries (especially financial and energy industries), have fewer entitlements, privatize many if not all government functions, put people at the mercy of insurance companies or force those who can’t afford insurance to be on their own, do away with unions (especially public employee unions). Perhaps even get a Supreme Court with a super conservative majority to seal the deal. These are all reasons to defeat the Romney ticket.This is not a conspiracy theory. This will be our future reality unless we take action to support President Obama and his party. The opposition has been corrupted by big money and huge appetite for power. They do not have the best interest of the people, in the states or the nation.• Eugene T. Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.