Monday, July 17, 2017

Salon -- A New American Revolution: Can We Break Out of Our Nation’s Culture of Cruelty?

"If we are now a failed country, as I believe we are, it is not because we have a failed presidency, although we do. It is because we are a failed people." - Neal Gabler.

The Republican Party and their leaders -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan -- have an unacceptable bias against poor people, and anyone who is weak, vulnerable or do not have the wherewithal to help themselves. They lack the empathy and compassion necessary to appropriately address and produce legislation that benefits all Americans without marginalizing any of us. They have a penchant for taking away from Americans in need and giving it to a minority of wealthy people who don't need it. And, to make things worse, there are an undesirable number of Americans who also lack the same empathy and compassion, who support their efforts, and the United States has a President Donald Trump who exemplifies their lack of compassion, meanness, cruelty, and callousness.

Republicans believe in a“Just-World Hypothesis,” which is a false notion that people somehow through a lack of not trying and working hard enough to achieve the American Dream deserve what they get. They blame the victim without any attempt to understand the underlining causes and reasons why some Americans are struggling and suffering.

President Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and those who support them are putting the lives of a majority of Americans at risk.

The health care reform bills proposed by Republicans in the House and Senate have generated heated discussions across a vast ideological and political spectrum. On the right, senators such as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have endorsed a new level of cruelty — one that has a long history among the radical right — by arguing that the current Senate bill does not cut enough social services and provisions for the poor, children, the elderly and other vulnerable groups and needs to be even more friendly to corporate interests by providing massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Among right-wing pundits, the message is similar. For instance, Fox News commentator Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, in a discussion about the Senate bill, stated without apparent irony that rising public concerns over the suffering, misery and death that would result from this policy bordered on “hysteria” since “we are all going to die anyway.” Montgomery’s ignorance about the relationship between access to health care and lower mortality rates is about more than ignorance. It is about a culture of cruelty that is buttressed by a moral coma.

On the other side of the ideological and political divide, liberals such as Robert Reich have rightly stated that the bill is not only cruel and inhumane, it is essentially a tax reform bill for the 1 percent and a boondoggle that benefits the vampire-like insurance companies. Others, such as Laila Lalami of The Nation, have reasoned that what we are witnessing with such policies is another example of political contempt for the poorest and most vulnerable on the part of right-wing politicians and pundits. These arguments are only partly right and do not go far enough in their criticisms of the new political dynamics and mode of authoritarianism that have overtaken the United States. Put more bluntly, they suffer from limited political horizons.

Fighting back against the right's politics of exclusion can be a path toward rebuilding American democracy

By Henry Giroux