When is it fair to say that some political battles aren't just disagreements over policy, but actually represent a struggle between "good" and "evil" points of view? And when, if ever, is it helpful to say so?
There are those on the Right who debase the currency of that four-letter word -- "evil" -- by using it against anyone who disagrees with them. But what word do you apply to people who deny food to hungry families, voting rights to minorities, or a chance for self-advancement to hard-working students from lower-income homes?
How do you fight the hateful without succumbing to hate?
Politics was once a collegial craft in this country. They called it the "art of compromise," and policy disagreements were handled without resorting to wholesale condemnation of one's opponents.
Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in Washington DC has pretty much abandoned that practice. They're also making hard not to respond in kind, since they keep on committing one reprehensible act after another.
In fact, that could be the new Republican Party's motto: one reprehensible act after another.
Note that we're speaking of the Republican Party's leaders, not its voters. Polls have shown that registered Republicans are a very different breed from the party's leadership. By large majorities, they want to preserve and strengthen Social Security. They support Medicare. GOP voters even supported a "public option" for healthcare and additional taxes on millionaires, if only by slim margins.
Sure, the Republican rank-and-file includes people who hold some pretty reprehensible ideas -- about society, minorities, the poor, and women. But it also includes many people whose ideals, and whose beliefs about the nature of freedom, lead them to embrace political positions which many of us reject. That doesn't make them any less idealistic.
Party leaders, on the other hand, seems to hold no principles except self-interest. They've reversed themselves on core principles of individual liberty, states' rights, and privacy whenever it suits them. The only common thread has been their own power and the interests of their major funders.
Their track record is remarkably despicable. And just this week they make that record worse, by voting to take food from the mouths of hungry children.
Countdown to Starvation
First Republicans tried to cut $20 billion from the food stamp program. When that didn't work, they decided to try again -- and doubled the figure to $40 billion. Who would that hurt? Government data tells us about the human beings who rely on "SNAP" assistance (its official name):
A record number of people - 47,661,353 Americans - are receiving food stamps this year.
SNAP's benefits are extremely modest. The average person receives $133.29 per month. That's $4.38 per day.