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Monday, October 24, 2011

The GOP's 'Punish Everything and Everyone' Mentality

I was tempted to write that an LA Times headline -- "Medical help for illegal immigrants could haunt Mitt Romney" -- demonstrates everything that's wrong with today's Republican Party. It hits a lot of the bullet-points; a lack of compassion or mercy, a complete absence of anything approximating common sense, and the belief that every problem can be solved by punishing someone.

The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.

Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.

The program, widely supported in Massachusetts, drew little attention when Romney signed the trailblazing healthcare law. But now it could prove problematic for the Republican presidential hopeful, who has been attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry for supporting educational aid for children of undocumented immigrants in Texas.

So undocumented immigrants, including children, should be sick and uneducated. Because a sick and uneducated segment of the populace is just so damned good for a society.


If you think about it -- for even a minute -- these sorts of punishments offer no deterrent to illegal immigration. What they're escaping is crushing poverty and, in many cases, human rights abuses. There are plenty of stories about immigrant families -- native, documented, and undocumented -- packing up and leaving states with draconian anti-immigrant laws (that's going to work out great for the local economy, huh?), but I doubt the majority leave. Whatever crazy law you impose, it's still better than what they left. Unless you're willing to turn your state into a banana republic police state for undocumented immigrants, you're really not going to get anywhere. Unfortunately, the Republican base is more than willing to go that far -- on nearly every issue.

Think of the audience cheering Rick Perry for setting the record for executions in his state. Never mind that bragging about setting a record for executing prisoners is an admission of failure to prevent crime. When you have more criminals to punish every year, things are really going in the opposite direction of where you'd like.

And these are the oh-so Christian voters, for whom "mercy" is a curse word and forgiveness a sin. Jesus would've unhealed these immigrants and -- judging from the response to the Wall Street protests -- chased the moneychangers into the temple. With clasped hands and fervent prayers, they ask The Lord to give them the strength to hate the illegals and the gays and the feminists and the Muslims and that whole long list of subhumans as strongly as they've been commanded to. Their god is a cruel tyrant, when all is said and done, and they promise to govern the way this tyrant would want.

Is it any wonder I'm against them?

So no, that headline doesn't demonstrate everything that's wrong with the GOP. There's still the wishful thinking that passes for logic and allows them to dismiss plain, proven facts as liberal dogma -- global warming denial and creationism are both examples of this. As is their bass-ackward, supply-drives-demand brand of economics. But the main problem with modern conservatism is its absolute faith in the idea that every problem can be punished out of existence -- that if you just find the right person or group of people to slap silly, Utopia will be the result.

There's a saying; "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." That's close to the GOP's problem right now, but not the root of it. The real problem is that the only tool Republicans seem to want is a hammer.


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