Delivery alert

There may be an issue with the delivery of your newspaper. This alert will expire at NaN. Click here for more info.

Recover password

GOP has morphed into a failed socialist state

Once upon a time, Ayn Rand-reading, red-baiting Republicans denounced Soviet Russia as an evil superpower intent on destroying the American way of life.

My, how things have changed.

The Grand Old Party has quietly become the pro-Russia party – and not only because the party’s standard-bearer seems peculiarly enamored of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under Republican leadership, the United States is starting to look an awful lot like the failed Soviet system the party once stood unified against.

Supposedly middle-class workers – people who have government jobs that are supposed to be stable and secure – were waiting in bread lines. Thanks to government dysfunction and mismanagement, those employed in the private sector may have been going hungry, since 2,500 vendors nationwide were unable to participate in the food stamp program while the government was shuttered and unable to renew licenses for the Electronic Benefit Transfer debit card program.

Why? Because of the whims of a would-be autocrat who cares more about erecting an expensive monument to his campaign rhetoric than about the pain and suffering of the little people he claims to champion.

Most of those little people were too frightened of the government’s wrath to fight back overtly. Instead, desperate to keep jobs that might someday offer a paycheck again, the proletariat protested in more passive ways: calling in sick. …

The would-be autocrat surrounds himself with toadies who spend more time scheming against one another – sometimes to comic effect – than trying to offer their boss sound guidance or thoughtful policy solutions. In his presence, and perhaps especially when the cameras are on, they praise him relentlessly: his brains, his leadership, his “perfect genes.”

Sometimes they appear afraid to stop clapping, echoing stories of forced standing ovations for Joseph Stalin recounted in video footage and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago.”

Apparent corruption among these kowtowing aides – including improper use of public funds or private favors for … pampering – remains rampant. Unlike in true socialist states, it seems, our leaders haven’t run out of other people’s money.

Meanwhile, federal law enforcement is publicly directed to pursue the would-be autocrat’s political enemies, as well as the family members of those enemies, such as former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s father-in-law. Purges of law enforcement or other members of the “deep state” are also demanded and sometimes acted upon. Such actions, when taken by thugs abroad, were once denounced by Republicans.

State-run media, or something closely approximating it, feeds the public a steady diet of pro-leader propaganda and shields viewers from news that might embarrass the head of state. Independent sources of information or accountability, or those who deviate from the party line, are branded “enemies of the people.”

On the macroeconomic front, leadership may be touting “deregulation” but in many ways is moving toward a more centrally planned economy, which includes the shielding of pet industries from the whims of the market or technological change.

That means propping up coal plants, which fracking has made less competitive. And slapping tariffs across thousands of foreign products to subsidize struggling domestic competitors or sometimes to protect “national security.” And granting more price supports for farmers.

Just as government has inserted itself into more markets, though, it has abruptly stopped functioning, holding up the processing of those farmer subsidies or tariff exemptions. It’s the old Soviet model in a nutshell: promising much, interfering a lot, failing to deliver.

Perhaps providing proof of concept to President Dwight Eisenhower’s domino theory, our government has simultaneously encouraged more central planning by other economies, too. This includes greater government-directed management of bilateral trade balances by China, the European Union and other countries, regardless of what individual businesses within those countries need or … prefer. … While the Trump administration claims it wants China to move in a more market-oriented direction, it also wants it to promise theoretically private Chinese companies will buy soybeans from the United States, and not Brazil, regardless of quality or price.

Needless to say, “picking winners and losers” was once a thing Republicans abhorred, a practice embraced only by failed socialist states; today the Republican standard-bearer picks winners and losers even within government. …(In the shutdown) President Trump decided to do an end run around the constitutionally mandated, democratic appropriations process, picking … which government functions are allowed to function: yes to his offshore drilling plan and tax refunds; no to the Smithsonian museums.

All branches of government may be equal, but some, it seems, are more equal than others.