© Josh Sager – May 2014
When debating with other Americans on issues of partisan politics, I have often run into individuals who have a “pox on both their houses” attitude in regard to the Democrats and Republicans. These people see both parties as filled with corrupt, unreasonable, liars who serve the interests of a select group of private interests over those of their constituents.
Americans who subscribe to this cynical view of politics are half correct in their assessment of the two main political parties: both parties are corrupt and deeply flawed. That said, they are half wrong because both parties are not equivalently flawed, nor are the dangers stemming from the parties’ flaws equally serious.
In several vitally important policy areas, the Republicans are demonstrably worse than the Democrats to a degree that makes virtually any vote for the GOP on the federal level simply irresponsible. Among these issues, the GOP’s positions on campaign finance regulation and climate change are the most extreme and the most likely to cause immense harm to Americans.
Put simply, based purely upon the GOPs stances on campaign finance regulation and climate change, no informed and rational American should be able to vote for a Republican in a federal race—the destruction caused by the GOP’s views on these issues far outweighs any possible benefits in other policy areas (ex. taxes, regulations, social issues, etc.).
Campaign Finance Deregulation
Campaign finance policy is a meta-issue of politics that has extremely significant ramifications on virtually every other issue. Because it has such wide-ranging consequences for other policy issues, a political party’s policy suggestions on the issue of campaign finance are of overriding concern.
If you have strong campaign finance regulations (ex. donation limits, publicly funded elections, disclosure mandates, etc.) that prevent large interests from leveraging their wealth to control politics, elected representatives are beholden to their constituents. Conversely, weak campaign finance regulations allow rich interests to buy elected officials, compelling them to pass laws which benefit their rich donors at the expense of their constituents.
Any party to support weak campaign finance regulations is either intentionally or unintentionally supporting corruption—this remains true regardless of the party’s other policy preferences or partisan identity (left, right, center, or anarchist/libertarian).
The Republican Party and the American right wing are the definitive drivers of the campaign finance deregulation that has completely corrupted American politics. This makes the GOP demonstrably worse than the Democrats from the standpoint of democracy and ensuring that the wealthy don’t control the American government.
In 2010, a right wing advocacy group called Citizens United brought a case against the FEC which was decided by the Supreme Court. This decision was a 5-4 decision on purely partisan lines, where the five right wing justices opened the floodgates to corporate money in American politics.
Just recently, this same 5-4 right wing majority ruled in the McCutcheon v. FEC case—brought by Republican super-donor Sean McCutcheon and supported by the GOP leadership—and weakened campaign finance regulation further by eliminating aggregate donation limits.
Put simply, the campaign finance deregulation in modern America is a direct function of right wing Supreme Court Justices, appointed by Republican presidents, ruling in favor of Republican groups.
It is certainly true that Democrats have become corrupted by money in politics, but it is also true that this corruption was created and fostered by the Republican Party—they worked for decades to infect American politics with the virus of moneyed corruption and we must lay the blame at their feet now that they have been successful.
Using the issue of campaign finance deregulation alone, we can say that the GOP is a worse choice for the average American than the Democratic Party. Unless you have large amounts of money or agree with those who do and are willing to give them your political influence, you simply cannot support the Republican Party.
Anthropogenic climate change is a real and imminent threat to humanity as a whole. The overuse of fossil fuels by mankind has released massive quantities of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide into our atmosphere, thickening it and causing it to trap increased heat energy. In effect, we have put a heating blanket over the earth and are causing the global climate to shift accordingly.
If nothing is done, the climate patterns on earth will shift and humanity will suffer a series of extreme consequences. Here are a few examples:
- The sea level will increase by several feet (the IPCC upper estimate estimates nearly a meter of sea level rise by the end of the century, and this was before it was confirmed that a portion of western Antarctica has entered irreversible collapse—this collapse would add a minimum of two feet to the IPCC estimate, and, in a worst case scenario, could increase sea level by as much as 13 feet in the next 200 years) and will render numerous coastal cities uninhabitable.
- Extreme weather events will worsen, increasing the strength and frequency of storm events (both polar and tropical). Additionally, droughts and floods will afflict different portions of the country.
- Potable water will become scarce in many areas and farming will become more difficult—this will lead to water conflicts, deaths due to dehydration, and may even cause famines across the globe.
While many in the American media promote the idea that there is a scientific debate about climate change, this is simply not the case. Every major/state scientific organization, 97% of scientists and over 99% of published journal articles conclude that climate change is real and anthropogenic—to put this into perspective, the percentage of American public who believes that lizard people control the world (4%) is larger than the percentage of scientists who deny climate change (3%).
Unfortunately, the Republican Party has, as a whole, refused to take any action to mitigate the coming climate catastrophe. A majority of the Republican Party is unwilling to even admit that climate change exists, while those who do deign to acknowledge the scientific consensus on this issue refuse to support legislation aimed at protecting the planet—they either argue that climate change is natural, not anthropogenic, or say that the USA is only one country, thus we shouldn’t take unilateral action to curb emissions.
Refusing to address climate change is simply not an acceptable position for any political party which is hoping to steer the American government. If we refuse to address climate change, millions of Americans will suffer, trillions of dollars will be lost, and it is possible that entire states will be swallowed up by the sea (never mind the devastation that will occur abroad).
Until the GOP accepts the reality of global climate change and develops a coherent and fact-based policy to address the problem, they should not be allowed to have any say in the federal government. Just as how campaign finance deregulation is a disqualifying issue, a denial of climate change is so consequential that it should override virtually every other policy consideration.
The current Republican Party supports campaign finance policies that will destroy our democracy and climate policies that will destroy our planet (or at least make it far less habitable for human life). In the face of these consequences, no other policy can justify a vote for the Republican Party on the federal level—after all, marginal tax rates, gay marriage, gun rights, abortion, and all of the other issues we argue about are somewhat meaningless if we are living in an oligarchy, on a planet that is no longer capable of supporting human life.
Until the Republicans change on these two issues, they should simply be disqualified for office in the eyes of the American people. Unfortunately, this is unlikely, as the American people are ignorant about issues of public policy and the media is content to run misinformation, false debate, and sensationalistic trash to draw in viewers for revenue and ratings, even if the programming is vapid.