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Robert J. Elisberg Headshot

"My Country, Far Right or Wrong"

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A couple weeks ago, I hesitantly said to a friend, "I hate to say this, but it's appeared to me that the Republican Party has become just on the good side of..." and I paused, reticent to complete the sentence -- but my friend finished the thought.

"...treasonous," he said.

I had hesitated because I don't toss around such words lightly. I know how easily Republicans threw charges of "Commie Pinko" against liberals during the McCarthy era. Or how in the 1960s, "America, Love It or Leave It" was the popular right-wing mantra, along with "My country, right or wrong." (Never mind that government dissent is what created America.) During the early stages of the Iraq War, any dissent of the "Mission Accomplished" war -- a war still going on EIGHT YEARS later -- was painted as un-patriotic by the far right, most egregiously when first-term congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH) tried to defame Vietnam medal-winner John Murtha as a coward. Then add multiple medal-hero John Kerry being disgracefully Swiftboated.

No, because much of the right wing has long tried to paint dissent as disloyal (a charge that would itself seem un-American), I've always felt it was best not to be careless with such smearing, knowing how divisive it can be when handled irresponsibly.

Yet we have today come face-to-face with a radical right and Republican politicians who are on the record as virtually wanting to see America collapse, simply for political gain.

This is not mere hyperbole.

Consider Rush Limbaugh, the vocal conscience of the far right, saying, "I hope Obama fails - and consider that there wasn't an outcry from Republican politicians. Instead, we got the nodding agreement of silence.

Consider that Republican votes in Congress have regularly been unanimously "zero" against. It's one thing to disagree with opponents, but the sheer law of averages and human individuality suggests occasional single votes of "aye" should exit. But unanimity of zero, time and time and time again says that an effort is being made to vote against something solely because of politics, not on its merits, because it might be good for America.

Consider that in the Debt Ceiling Debate, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, went on record to admit, "I refuse to help Barack Obama get reelected..." One must understand that he wasn't saying "if I think the President's issue is bad." He was saying something purely political: that whatever the President of the United States proposed, even if it was good for America, the Republican Senate leader would work against it.

To be clear: near treasonous was meant literally. Not hyperbole.

Ultimately, it's the Republican actions in Congress over that debt ceiling which has laid bare the near-treason on their part.

In history, Congress has been called to raise the debt ceiling 71 times, and all 71 of those times Congress has lived up to its responsibility. Every single time. Because even when one party might disagree with the other, Congress has always -- always -- understood that when you have already spent money and owe that money...you have a responsibility to pay it.

We all know that.

That's what raising the debt ceiling is. It's not about what money government should spend. It's about paying for what you have already bought. It's what Congress has always known it has the responsibility to do.

Until the Republican Party in this Congress.

Since the debt ceiling was first raised in 1917, it has never been tied to the budget or debt. But only now, for the first time in 94 years, because Republicans want to see the President fail, the GOP has put a gun to the head of America and held the nation hostage, putting its party's politics ahead of America's interest, threatening the good reputation of the United States and risking bringing the country crashing down. And risking crashing the world economy with it.

If any enemies of America tried the same, they couldn't have done it better.

Near treasonous is not hyperbole.

The blackmail by Republicans was never about actually reducing the debt. Republicans have never cared about the debt before. When George W. Bush doubled the national debt from $5.7 trillion to $11 trillion, there wasn't a peep from Republicans. Cutting Medicare and Social Security has absolutely nothing to do with the national debt. If Republicans got their wish and eliminated both programs, the national debt would not change one penny. Republicans simply want to eliminate social programs they don't like. And they are willing to crush America to achieve their goals.

If Republicans politicians truly cared about eliminating the national debt, they would tax America's wealthy. Not doing so exposes the lie. In a McClatchy-Maris Poll, Americans favored raising taxes on income over $250,000 by 64% -33%. Even 43% of Republicans favored raising taxes on the wealthy! But in Congress, Republican politicians marched lock-step unanimously against it, preferring instead to push the nation towards disaster.

Near treasonous is not hyperbole.

Disagreement with your opponent is one thing. But acting unanimously against them repeatedly -- all purely for politics -- is contemptible.

This is where far-right apologists try to misdirect your attention. "What about when President Obama...?," they cry. "What about when Democrats...? "What about...?" -- fill in the blank. That's avoiding the issue. Because this isn't about others. It's about the Republican Party in Congress. And any excuse that begins "What about..." is someone telling you they have no answer.

Republicans like to call for personal responsibility. Well, it's time for Republicans in Congress to take responsibility for their continued, unanimous actions playing political games to try to make the president fail even if it means harming America - whose economy collapsed under their own party's Administration -- and bringing disaster to the nation, and then the world.

Near treasonous is not hyperbole.

Once upon a time, Republicans cried, "America, love it or leave it." And "My country, right or wrong."

So much for taking personal responsibility...

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