“The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot, so well do, for themselves in their separate, and individual capacities.... [such] as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the machinery of government itself.” Abraham Lincoln
President Lincoln believed in government and what it could accomplish for the people. Now, the so-called ‘Party of Lincoln’ seems to believe that anything government does is inherently evil. Today’s Republican Party is perfectly summarized by a recent cartoon in the LVN: Government FOR the people who hate government, BY the people who hate to govern.
In this last election, the Republican agenda was, “We hate Obama, and all his policies have failed.” They had nothing constructive to propose, only opposition to Obama. Here are some of those ‘failed’ policies: Deficit less than half from when Obama took office. Over 10 million jobs added since Feb. 2010, with 55 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Unemployment at 5.8 percent. A record stock market and growing GDP. A booming auto industry. Increased energy independence, with gas prices dropping. And Osama bin Laden is dead.
Republicans were able to counter these real achievements with lies. Now that they’ve been elected, we have to see if they can actually do anything positive for the country. When Republicans had complete control of Congress and the White House for the first six years of Bush’s administration, all they brought was war and recession. What makes anyone think they will be different now?
What is so frightening about the 2014 election are the unknown consequences. In 2000, Vice-president Al Gore won the popular vote, but the U.S. Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush by stopping the vote recount in Florida. Republicans gained control of the White House and Congress. What did we get out of that? The worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, an unnecessary war that ruined thousands of American lives, our national debt basically doubled, and the worst recession since the Great Depression. A conservative paradise indeed.
In 2010, outrage over the Affordable Care Act led to a Republican sweep of Congress and many state legislatures. The result was Republican gerrymandering in several states, producing untouchable Republican districts. In 2012, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives received 60,252,696 million votes, while Republican candidates received 58,541,130. Democrats won a majority, yet Republicans ended up with 234 seats to the Democrats’ 201, thanks to gerrymandering. The Republican majority in state legislatures has led to several state voter suppression laws, with the blessing of the Supreme Court.
Republicans claim to respect the Constitution, but their actions show the opposite. Several Republicans have resurrected the idea of nullification, which says states can refuse to enforce federal laws. They not only ignore the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution — Article Six, Clause Two — but they ignore the fact that a civil war was fought over this principle and nullification lost. One more example of their disdain for government.
Nevada just elected a full slate of Republican state officials. Barbara Cegavske, a Nevada State senator, was elected Secretary of State. This is the person who supervises and certifies all state and local elections. While in the Senate, Cegavske voted against increasing the number of polling places and extending voter registration. She is now tasked with the job of protecting voter rights.
In other states, Republican Secretaries of State have allowed questionable election practices to proceed. Will Cegavske join their ranks? I hope not. I hope she is a woman of integrity who will do what is ethical. But the records of other Republican–led state governments don’t inspire much confidence.
Adam Laxalt was elected Nevada attorney General. Again, in many Republican-led state governments, the attorneys General have allowed flawed voting laws to go into effect. On Laxalt’s campaign website, he parroted the Republican Party line on just about everything. If he follows Republican principles, we in Nevada might see restrictions on our voting rights. Again, I hope I’m wrong; we’ll just have to see.
Lincoln believed in government “of the people, by the people, for the people….” He would be dismayed at what the Republican Party has become — government for the wealthy, by people who hate to govern. I don’t know what these new Republican majorities will bring us, but after what happened during the Bush years, I’m not very optimistic.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.