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Take this Pledge and Shove It

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The GOP unveiled its "Pledge to America," a pledge with little explanation on how it might be carried out but one with plenty of ideology on America. The pledge itself demonstrates that the Republicans think the battle to win hearts and minds in the next months, for the midterm elections and after, will be won by appealing to what they think Americans believe about America.

The Pledge's opening reminds Americans that the very idea of America is under attack. Implicit is the idea that the presidential election of Barack Obama somehow ravaged America's very identity. It shows the GOP is afraid that they are losing control over determining the norms by which Americans live by and the way with which those norms will be created, established and preserved.

If it isn't they who are deciding what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, beautiful and ugly, healthy and sick, than they fear the tyranny of someone else's beliefs.

The thrust of this Pledge is that America is an "idea" and not merely a country. Here, GOP leaders conveniently depart from the experiential and enter a realm where circumstances can presumably exile reason.

Citing key principles from the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge also asserts, "America is an inspiration." No doubt, that is the case for many of the globe's citizens. But, one thing is for sure: world public opinion on the United States has dropped significantly in the past decade as America has pursued unilateral foreign policy actions like wars, as America has shown contempt for international laws, treaties, and principles of human rights.

The Pledge promotes the idea that, when government is destructive of these ideas, that are intrinsic to the nation's founding documents, the people have the right "to institute a new working agenda." That's an idea too, one that has helped sell books like Kenneth Blackwell's "The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency" or Dick Armey's "Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto."

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, through extended interviews with both authors, has exposed the idea that Obama has brought tyranny to America to be really a fear of democracy. The stimulus, permanent bailouts, "government takeover" of healthcare, and additional uncontrollable spending, etc. have all passed through legislative procedure. Millions of Americans watched health reform move painfully slowly and slowly become less reform and more frankenreform, a measure to appease the private insurance companies responsible for America's health care problems and the people making demands that government reform health care.

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One section of the opening seems like it was lifted from a book summarizing the history of government during the Bush Administration. It reads, "An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down long-standing laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people." There is little evidence that this type of imperial activity has been carried out in the past two years, but to free market-loving, values voting, anti-multicultural Republicans, Obama's attempts at injecting bits and pieces of Keynesian economics into the lives of Americans to put a band-aid over economic wounds that continue to fester is like living under Joseph Stalin.

The de-legitimization of a president not only breeds false narratives and lies about American policies and politics but also makes it harder for people to level criticisms of the Obama Administration which may be based on something the GOP lacks called evidence. Aspects which could be described as being totalitarian or authoritarian in their implementation and prosecution become harder to discuss publicly because it is hard to separate the reasonable from the reactionary.

Once you get past the framing, two glaring problems jump out: first, the idea that government spending is bad and tax cuts are the answer is simply false. The Center for Economic Policy and Research analyzed the politics around an economic stimulus in 2009 and found that $100 billion of additional government spending could increasethe GDP $150 billion and amount to an increase in employment of 1 million workers. In contrast, a change in taxes would give firms or corporations more money but would not change the firms' or corporations' incentives for business. Therefore, investment in job creation was not guaranteed or highly unlikely.

The second is that all this talk about healthcare is pure unadulterated bullshit. It is no different from what Republicans proposed in 2009. And, the Congressional Budget Office found then that their alternative would "shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years, while the Democrats' plan would "slice $104 billion off the deficit. This means the CBO found the Democratic bill would cover "12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan."

The Republicans are deluded with fantasies that can only be satisfied if Doc Brown existed to advise on the production of Delorean cars, which could take them back in time to when America was being born. One might encourage others to start the process of developing time travel to get Republicans out of here right now if there wasn't reason to fear the future they would create if they were inserting themselves into the business of the formation of America days after the American Revolution was won. (You may ask why they wouldn't go back to when the Declaration of Independence was being written? They wouldn't go back to 1776 and fight for independence. They don't fight wars; poor, working class Americans especially those brown and black fight the wars.)

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Simply put, American dogma is not the way forward. The way forward will be found in better understanding that which can be observed. It will be found in using such observations to support policy proposals and specific agenda items. It will be found in suggestions that can be separated from the mythology of America's Founding Fathers and conservative propaganda of the last two years.


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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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