The Republican Party has made a great leap towards fairness and egalitarianism, and they are to be commended for it.
As Republicans themselves would likely acknowledge, the GOP has not really been one for sharing. Merely hearing the phrase, "Share the Wealth," makes most Republicans quiver. Sharing the nation's resources on welfare, Social Security and Medicare is against all conservative belief. And pooling Americans together to share the benefits of health care in a public option, well...that just gives Republicans the creeps. An American should stand or fall on his own. Unions share, and unions must be crushed and, God willing, Republicans will do their best to accomplish that.
Sharing just isn't good, despite what your mother taught you and what you learned in the schoolyard. Sharing is what the Commies do. Not Americans. At least not Republicans.
That's why it's come as a shock and pleasant surprise to see the Republican Party finally reach out and actually call for sharing.
"Share the pain."
In this Republican-created economic crisis, everyone should be asked to share the pain, Republicans say. Democrats say it, too, but they're bleeding-hearts liberals; they have to say it. But Republicans asking others to share the pain, now that's news.
Asking teachers to share the pain, to give up some of that cushy existence teachers luxuriate in. Asking union members to share the pain, since they're so used to sharing anyway. Asking Wisconsin public employees to share others' pain because it's time that janitors, bus drivers, sanitation workers, park rangers and nurses understand just a wee bit of discomfort in their lives.
The truth is that in a financial crisis, it does make sense to share the pain. And Republicans express this eloquently.
"We're all going to have to share the pain," said the Republican Majority Leader in Wisconsin's Assembly, Scott Suder.
"I think everyone will have to share the pain," explained Mike Milburn, the Republican House Speaker in Montana.
Sarah Palin herself has urged union members to throw off the shackles of their "union bosses who are not looking out for you," who are burdening members with collective bargaining rights, and nobly follow her instead to get "budgets that share the burden."
Even the business community has issued a rallying cry, like one of Wisconsin's leading manufacturers, Badger Meter. "For many years, the public unions in the state have won a lot of battles," bluntly noted its CEO, Rich Meeusen, who donated $5,000 to Gov. Scott Walker's election. "Clearly, the private sector has had to take pretty draconian measures. The public sector so far has not. It's time for them to share the pain." Mr. Meeusen well-understands the "draconian measures" his own company had to take: last August, Badger Meter was painfully forced to increase its quarterly stock dividend by 15%. One can only presume they were hoping for a 25% raise.
And on and on the new-found, sharing voice of the Republican Party grows. From Washington, and Wisconsin, from Indiana, Ohio, Florida and Montana. Share the pain.
This inspiring sense of community spirit and sharing means so much to the nation. And it would mean oh-so-much more if the concept of "Share the pain," meant to Republicans that everyone should share it. After all, "Share the pain" takes on such a less-noble meaning when you are only asking teachers, nurses, janitors, bus drivers, the middle class -- y'know: workers -- to share it. And conveniently leave out corporations and the wealthy.
Republicans fought like angry badgers against President Obama to make sure that people who made over $200,000 a year got tax cuts. When Democrats were willing to increase this to a million dollars, it still couldn't get past Republicans in Congress.
While asking public workers to "share the pain," Wisconsin governor Scott Walker gave a $117 million tax cut to corporations.
In Florida, Republican governor Rick Scott wants to cut corporate taxes $1.5 billion over two years.
Share the pain.
This is what "share the pain" is to Republicans. Telling others to suck it in, while they increase their stock dividend.
Now, it's a dead certainty that Republicans have a treasure chest of reasons why all these tax cuts are a good thing for corporations and the wealthy. But when you are asking everyone who has something worth sharing to "share the pain" -- then providing any exemption, whatever the reason, gives lie to your call for "sharing." That's not sharing. That's cutting a backroom deal with your pals.
We all know what sharing is. We learned it in the third grade. Well, some of us did.
At least Marie Antoinette told the poor people of France to eat cake. The Republican Party is telling you not to eat. While they pay themselves a bonus.
The next time you hear a Republican say we must "share the pain," step back a moment and ask yourself just one simple question:
What pain has the GOP yet asked corporations and the wealthy to share?