The returns aren't all in yet on today's
Republican primaries but President Obama didn't wait. He kicked off his
2012 campaign against Mitt Romney with a hard-hitting speech centered on
the House Republicans' budget plan -- which Romney has enthusiastically
That plan, by the way, is the most radical reverse-Robin Hood
proposal propounded by any political party in modern America. It would
save millionaires at least $150,000 a year in taxes while gutting
Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, transportation, child nutrition,
college aid, and almost everything else average and lower-income
Americans depend on.
Here's what the President had to say about it:
"Disguised as a deficit reduction...it is really an attempt to impose a
radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism."
We are likely to hear a lot more about social Darwinism in the months ahead. It was the conservative creed during the late 19th century -- legitimizing a politics in which the lackeys of robber barons
deposited sacks of money on legislators' desks, and justifying an
economy in which sweat shops were common, urban slums festered, and a
significant portion of America was impoverished.
Social Darwinism encapsulated the idea of survival of the fittest (a
phrase Charles Darwin never actually used) as applied to societies as a
whole. Its chief apostle in America was Yale Professor William Graham
Here's what Sumner had to say in his social-Darwinian classic "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other" (1883):
"Let it be understood that we cannot go outside of this alternative:
Liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest; not-liberty, equality,
survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors
all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors
all its worst members."
Could there be a better summary of what today's regressive Republicans believe?