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Is The Republican Party Attempting to Form a New Confederacy?

Is The Republican Party Attempting to Form a New Confederacy?

As a native of an historically significant Civil War city in the southern United States, as well as an economist, I have often had the feeling that by electing its first black President, the normal U.S. partisan politics were going to take on a completely new and intensified atmosphere. Not to make a direct comparison, but the secession of the southern state that resulted in America’s Civil War was immediately preceded by the election of Abraham Lincoln. I have had the uneasy feeling that the Republican Party, and the Tea Party which was absorbed by it so quickly and seamlessly after President Obama’s election, would be resurrecting not only sociological remembrances of my childhood but the economic remembrances as well.

Fact of the matter is, I grew up in a unique town which had as its center, a crescent-shaped National Military Park which commemorates the Siege of Vicksburg—a siege which, in some ways, was the turning point of the Civil War, since the fall of Vicksburg gave control of the Mississippi River to the Union troops and signaled the inevitable defeat of the Confederacy, especially since Gettysburg’s demise occurred on almost the same day.

As I struggle daily with conceptualizing a way to cure America’s ailing economy (short of killing all politicians because my One-Penny Solution is clearly not catching fire), these feelings of unease keep rising to the surface, despite my continual attempt to restrict my focus to the economy and the eerie similarities which the last 30 years share with the run-up to the Great Depression. Congress and the “Supreme” judicial branch of our government have fallen so deeply into partisan dysfunction that I struggle against an innate instinct to lock myself away in the safe, warm, cozy, retro-fitted, circa 1955, fallout shelter that I discovered on my property after purchasing my house years ago. Either by nature or nurture, I’m not sure which, I have evolved over my lifetime into a “fixer”, in that I prefer to solve, then fix problems, and move the heck on. This problem, however, is above my pay grade.

I have inexorably become overwhelmed by the partisan nastiness which has become the daily staple of cable and broadcast news, and I keep coming back to a nagging question.

Just what the hell is the function supposed to be of the United States of America, and by extension, its government?

Taking a play out my collegiate Business Statistics text book , I decided on a radical course of action. It’s a familiar political ploy, but one that usually proves nothing. Nevertheless, since everyone seems to place a lot of trust in them…I conducted a poll.

I have a nifty cable plan that allows unlimited calls from my home phone, so I just started calling numbers. A day or two in, I decided to get a list of area codes from “the Google” just to give the appearance of legitimacy. I got a helluva lot of hang-ups, cursing in various accents, dialects and languages, but it was interesting nonetheless as I stumbled upon those who were willing to talk(some were surprisingly EAGER to talk). In all, over a period of three months, I recorded the answer from two thousand five hundred willing Americans. I made certain that I had at least 30 responses from all 50 states, and having achieved that lofty goal, I just started literally picking phone numbers at random. Not a bad statistically relevant sampling, as my college Stats professor would’ve mumbled in a somewhat agitated tone some 25 years ago.

The most common answer I got to my self-imposed question above, regardless of area code, whether they were a university graduate, an out-of-work blue collar worker, or a high school teacher, was this: To help me get rich of course(or some variation thereof).

Out of 2500 responses, this response was the RANDOM answer (not multiple choice) of 60% of those who chose to answer the one question that I asked. That is an astounding percentage given a lack of choices from which to choose. Not to raise a family, not to obtain a more comfortable life for their loved ones, not to get a world-class education. To get rich….OF COURSE. OF COURSE!

Although it didn’t particularly surprise me as I was slogging through the daily grind of making all those calls, it was a bit shocking to me as that one column of tick marks continued to grow. I suppose for most people born after the Viet Nam War era, the world has been shaped by Ronald Reagan’s redefining of government’s relationship with the private sector’s interests. His was a vision of lower taxes, less regulation, and maximum economic latitude for those at the top, or the now (in)famous “trickle-down, supply-side”economics. In Reagan’s (or his advisers’) view, the pursuit of wealth is the only thing worth pursuing in America; everything else is just fine, if its foundation stemmed from that single meme.

But I had to wonder if this was some sort of other-world statistical anomaly or has it been this way all along and I had just missed a memo, or was taking a nap while it happened…or something.

Continue reading at hg.scimth.net


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