The "Finger Quotes" Moment: The Defining Difference Between the Parties
This was the moment that John McCain sealed not just his fate, but the fate of the Republican Party this year. There will be no comeback in 2008:
John McCain cedes the "health" of the mother to the Democratic Party, thus alienating women voters. But I see something deeper in this clip. It cedes "health" altogether. It admits that to the Republican party, the healthcare crisis is not of concern to them. "Health" is, to McCain and the Republican Party, so unimportant that it gets put into finger quotes. John McCain has just defined "health" as nothing but a rhetorical talking point.
And herein lies a sharp difference between the two political parties. To the Republican Party, the "health of the mother," "healthcare" and the related "healthcare crisis," "education," "farmers," "environment," "Joe six pack," "Joe the plumber," etc. are all rhetorical talking points, not real issues to be solved with real solutions. In the end the Republican Party has no interest in these issues other than using them as rhetoric. To the Republican Party, to the degree they are interested in ANY of these issues, these offer only opportunities to give big business more money. "Health," "education," "housing," the whole agenda that average Americans worry about daily are handed over to the highest bidder. Republicans don't care about solving these issues, they care only about exploiting them politically and financially. That is why they never even ATTEMPT to solve them and stand in the way of any real solution. The only "solution" they ever offer is tax cuts to the rich and to big business. That is it.
The Democratic Party, by sharp contrast, views these key issues not just as exploitable rhetorical talking points, but as genuine problems requiring genuine solutions. From FDR's New Deal to LBJ's Great Society, real solutions that affected real people have been the expertise of the Democratic Party. Even with issues like the deficit, the Republican Party has talked "fiscal responsibility" constantly since Reagan, but has also constantly run the highest deficits in American history through three presidencies and 12 years of Republican control of the White House. Even "fiscal responsibility" is a rhetorical talking point to be exploited while the Republicans really do nothing but help the rich while the middle class and working class drown.
Yes, the word is drown. Figuratively and, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, literally. "Drown" was the word used by Grover Norquist when he defined the Republican ideology:
"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
This statement has been the basis of Republican policy. Norquist went into more detail:
"Cutting the government in half in one generation is both an ambitious and reasonable goal," Norquist stated in May 2000. "If we work hard we will accomplish this and more by 2025. Then the conservative movement can set a new goal. I have a recommendation: To cut government in half again by 2050"
What are the consequences of this extreme right-wing "Drown Government in a Bathtub" doctrine? You drown AMERICA along with it. You drown real life Americans.
To Republicans government has no role in our lives. Levees are not maintained. Bridges are not maintained. "Infrastructure" is a rehtorical talking point which is in reality underfunded to the point where levees break and bridges collapse. And Americans drown for real.
Your health, my health and our children's health don't matter. "Health" is a rehtorical talking point which is in reality left to a so-called business model which gives us some of the most expensive and least effective healthcare in the modern world. We pay the most yet the quality of care is on par with, I kid you not, Albania and Slovenia. And the fact that Republicans want to apply this same failed business model to education shows that "education" is also merely a rehtorical talking point that in reality will be sold to the highest bidder with no concern for the realities of education.
Republicans want to drown government even if drowns Americans...but they then advocate government invasion of our privacy on all levels.
This is why McCain reflexively put "health" in quotes. You care about the health of your children. McCain merely wants to exploit it for political and financial purposes. The actual quality of your child's health means NOTHING to John McCain.
Barack Obama offers explicit solutions on a myriad of issues. He begins with a real energy policy and a real offer of tax cuts for those who have carried an increasing tax burden under Republican Presidents, the poor and middle classes, while increasing taxes on those who have carried a decreasing tax burden under Republican Presidents, the richest 10%. He even offers an explicit Economic Recovery Plan for the Middle Class that you can look at and review.
Obama and most Democrats still focus on the so-called business model, but do not view it as the one and only tool available to solve our problems. Obama and the Democrats see government as actually GOVERNING the nation, not drowning it the way Grover Norquist promised and America witnessed after Katrina.
I hear over and over from Greens and Independents that there is "no difference" between the Democrats and Republicans. This is demonstrably untrue. You can argue that there is not ENOUGH of a difference at times, but you cannot argue that there is no difference. And the difference was illustrated in the final debate of 2008. To Republicans, all the problems that American citizens face every day are rehtorical talking points put in quotes, and all they care about is a right wing ideology that drowns government until Americans drown but put government police in your bedroom to regulate who you have sex with and what you do with your body. Republicans are ideologues. Democrats view our problems as requiring solutions, as real, tangible issues that require practical solutions. Democrats roll up their sleeves and seek practical solutions. From the deficit (eliminated only under a Democratic President) to education and healthcare, OUR issues are DEMOCRATIC issues.