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Never Trust A Republican

 By Jack Krug
Remember Reagan’s second term? Remember that “trickle-down” economic theory? Simplistically, we were told that if the government enacted programs that benefited the wealthy, the wealthy would in turn “trickle down” their largesse to the middle class; more businesses would expand, more jobs would be created, and everyone would benefit.

I bought into that theory. Card-carrying Democrat that I am, I decided maybe it was time to listen to rich conservatives. “What the hell,” I said, “The important thing is jobs, and if giving tax incentives and other economic breaks to big business results in benefits for everybody, who am I to fault the plan? So what if the rich get richer? They can’t get any snobbier and exclusionary than they are, can they?”

Every time I try to compromise my liberal ethic, every time I listen to the economic doubletalk of somebody living on a fake farm in Somerset County, I get burned big time. Reagan got my vote, we got trickle-down, and the only problem was the money for the middle class somehow disappeared. The business “expansion” turned out to be Caribbean resorts and cruise lines, and the jobs became entry-level burger flippers for fast-food consortiums. Franchises that were once a great opportunity for the middle class to get a leg up into the Hamptons have now become the purview of stock brokers and bankers. McDonald’s is one of the few successful franchise operations that still cater to individuals (not partnerships and passive investors), but the average franchise buy-in starts at $175,000! Trickle down, indeed. Money just went from one pocket to another in the same pair of trousers.

But I digress. The real reason for this column is to point out an essential difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats like the two-party system. They think of elections as honorable combat; sometimes they even listen to the opposition, and on rare occasion compromise in their favor. Republicans, on the other hand, appear to want all Democrats dead. In my own little mini survey, I have found several dozen Democrats who, at one time or another, voted for a Republican—Tom Kean, Millicent Fenwick, Rodney Frelinghuysen come to mind—but not a single one of my GOP friends (yes, I do have some!) will admit to ever having cast a Democratic vote. Ever. Compromise with liberals is just not in their play book.

Take George W. for example. Here’s a guy the GOP elected with a minority of the popular vote; you’d think common sense would dictate some kind of amicable coming together, some attempt at bi-partisan government, but after a few words in that direction the Bush Administration has marched to the right as if it had a landslide mandate, and it’s using the war on terrorism as an axe to cut off any criticism.

I never learn. Like Reagan’s second term, I listened to W’s inaugural address, and he seemed to make sense. “I’m gonna give this guy a chance,” I said. I tried to make sense out of oil drilling in the Arctic, I tried to see Enron as just some fluke, but last week I gave up on the guy. When he refused to acknowledge a global warming report—and a lukewarm report at that—by the EPA, he showed just what an inferior education can foster. Up until the Industrial Revolution, the most toxic gas emitted on Earth came from sheep, but since the 1800s we have fouled our atmosphere at an exponential rate. Anyone who thinks 200 years of non-stop aerial bombardment of the atmosphere is not worthy of a front burner on the governmental stove just shouldn’t be in the kitchen. Harry Truman was right. The next time I start to think a Republican has a good idea, that they have something in mind besides their own account balances, somebody please kick me.

June 6, 2002




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