Monday, September 25, 2006

The Moral High Ground

Certain members of the Republican Party have, for a number of years now, reveled in their perceived status as the party of morality. As GOP politicians have derided Democrats as unpatriotic or immoral, implying of course that Republicans are the opposite, I have wondered exactly what politician in history has publicly claimed to be anything else. So, six years after the GOP has achieved its goal of holding the presidency, majorities in both chambers of congress, and appointing seven of the nine justices of the Supreme Court, what grand strides have been made by our government to promote morality and patriotism? Let’s take a quick look back at some of the great achievements of the past six years.
In 2003 Congress and the President took a great moral leap and cut veterans benefits to the tune of just under a billion dollars over five years. This decision clearly took into account the high level of patriotism felt by America’s men and women in uniform. Realizing that our valiant heroes were eager to sacrifice for their country, their country took them up on the offer thus rendering them more patriotic and more selfless! The Democratic alternative to those cuts was a 2.4 billion dollar increase in veterans’ benefits. As a veteran, I can only lament my party’s misunderstanding of our needs. I believe I speak for most veterans when I say that we neither desire nor need any reward for our service. The knowledge that cuts in the Veterans’ Administration budget will be used to fund a massive tax cut for the wealthiest of Americans is enough for me.
Also, as a former soldier, I never did think much of the Geneva Convention. There are several clear problems with it, not least of all combat provisions which clearly came from a different era of warfare. Most of all, however, I hated the requirement that we treat prisoners of war as human beings. I must admit that I am truly grateful that our Justice Department spent years working the legal system to keep the detainees at Guantanamo Bay from having the rights of either a criminal or a prisoner of war. Heaven knows that either might prevent us from utilizing interrogation techniques pioneered by the Spanish Inquisition or the judges at the Salem Witch Trials. After all, torture has always provided such reliable information. Another moral victory brought to you by the Republican Party! Who cares if we periodically find out that some of the detainees were tourists?
As the battle has raged on at home over gay marriage, the Department of Defense has held the moral line abroad, discharging Sergeant Bleu Copas and fifty-five other Arabic linguists who were found to be homosexual. That, my friends, is real moral certitude. Our Department of Defense has willingly sacrificed the practical gain of having Arabic linguists for the sake of letting the homosexuals know that their service to the nation will not be tolerated under any circumstances, not even war. I’m certain that every American soldier who has died because of faulty intelligence reporting or mistranslation died secure in the knowledge that the military has remained morally upright.
Nothing, however, could prove our government’s commitment to creating a nation of moral patriots than this year’s tripling of the tax levied on teenagers with college savings funds. In this day and age college students have too many advantages when paying for their education. Tax breaks on college savings funds may seem like a good idea, but the reality is that they simply make life too easy for students, to the detriment of their moral character. Clearly these tax hikes are critical to the health of the nation. It is of utmost importance that students do their part to pay for the war, the massive federal deficit, and the construction of a 100 billion dollar missile defense shield (even if it doesn’t work). Our nation’s millionaires have already done too much, so abolishing the estate tax entirely (It already has exemptions for estates valued at under 2 million dollars.) should clearly take priority over college savings funds.
All sarcasm aside, I do not oppose much of the traditional platform of the Republican Party. As a Democrat, I am an advocate for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. I support our troops, and, in fact, was one. I have faith in our entrepreneurial spirit to discover unique solutions to long-standing problems, and I believe that the market can create enough jobs and wealth for every American to have a living wage, healthcare, and a retirement. I believe that careful government spending can provide a massive tax cut for the American middle class. I am pro-choice, but so was Ronald Regan. I support the War on Terror, even if I disagree with certain of the methods this administration has employed.
In my opinion, the problem inherent in the Republican Party does not lie in its rhetoric, but in its actions. If the GOP would practice what it preaches and make a tough stand for morality and ethics in government, cut wasteful spending, honor our veterans, and author practical tax cuts instead of reckless ones, I might just become a Republican. They, however, continue to produce such outstanding policy achievements as the renaming of French fries and failed Constitutional Amendments to ban flag burning. As war deaths mount, as crime rises at home, as our ports remain insecure, and as our heroes fail to receive proper treatment, this is the best the GOP can offer. The problem with the Republican Party does not lie in its rhetoric. The problem is that the Republican Party is only rhetoric.

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