America Today: Buy Cable TV, Get a Free Gun
by Don Monkerud
Guns in churches, schools and bars. Immigrants expelled to solve financial problems. Morality praised as the key national issue.
American politics are getting more bizarre and in some cases, borders on the nutty. Current politics include Republican legislatures in Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Minnesota fighting for their "rights" to reject energy efficiency light bulbs, while South Carolina will manufacture their own state's rights incandescent bulbs.
Alaska wants to eliminate Federal protection of salmon, polar bears, seals and wolves in favor of "state sovereignty." Dozens of states pledge to roll back "Obamacare," and protect their citizens' right to high-priced monopoly healthcare. A GOP legislator in New Hampshire recommends sending the disabled and homeless to Siberia where it's cheaper to live.
Americans have always relished smears, scandals, and partisan struggles that appeal to the lowest common denominator. A fierce national anti-intellectualism, fear of losing social position, and an economy run into the ditch by greedy bankers are driving the public to look for answers. The Tea Party and their Republican sycophants used this by making the Federal government the enemy to win recent elections: They are having a field day.
Important issues they've tackled include expanding the rights of gun owners, portrayed by the National Rifle Association as oppressed victims of government regulation. These oppressed victims bought 200,000 more guns than usual in 2010, to make a total of 200 million to 350 million guns in the U.S. Despite 30,000 deaths a year and 70,000 injuries caused by these guns, the NRA insists, "guns save lives."
In Florida, NRA supporters seek to impose a fine of $5 million on any doctor who asks patients if they own guns. In South Dakota, NRA supporters want to require every adult citizen to purchase a gun. Georgia is about to allow guns in bars, churches and political events; Arizona allows anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit; and Utah has named an official state firearm, soon to be followed by Texas.
NRA supporters in nine states seek to legalize guns on school campuses. In Montana, Radio Shack is giving away a gun with every purchase of Dish Network, and in Missouri a car dealer is offering a free AK-47 with the purchase of a new vehicle.
Congressional Republicans forced "gun rights" into the healthcare bill to prevent the collection of "any information relating to gun ownership." Congress refuses to ban ammunition clips that hold 40 bullets and fire two shots a second, and the NRA refuses to meet with President Obama because he has "spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment."
In another effort to "save the country," GOP legislatures are attacking illegal immigration. Georgia wants to charge any undocumented resident caught driving drunk with a felony, condemn immigrants for stealing "job opportunities" from citizens, and make it a crime to "transport" or "harbor" illegal immigrants. Several states seek to bar illegals from college and prevent them from marrying U.S. citizens. Alabama would make it illegal to rent to an illegal immigrant, and several states want to pass laws requiring employers to check with a Federal citizenship database before hiring anyone. One GOP legislator says he wants to "make South Carolina a very hostile place for those who are in this country illegally."
Meanwhile GOP presidential contenders support a moral crusade to save America:
- Mike Huckabee of Arkansas blames the economic downturn, crime and high school drop out rates on our "morality." He wants America to "rediscover God" and worship evangelical Christianity.
- Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi lauds the White Citizens Councils of the Civil Rights days and pledges that we should do "everything that we can do to stop abortion."
- Newt Gingrich claims, "religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite" that wants God "driven out of public life." He places moral values at the top of the U.S. agenda, as important as the economy and national defense.
- Michele Bachmann promises to increase the importance of social moral issues and says, "Social conservatism is fiscal conservatism."
Working people are not faring well in the business-supported GOP push to dominate politics. In Nevada, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is seeking to repeal the state's $8.25 minimum wage. Darrell Issa, Republican from California, wants to outlaw any states minimum wage higher than the Federal minimum wage. Wisconsin overturned the rights of state workers to collective bargaining, and Republican governors around the country are laying off thousands of workers, privatizing government jobs and firing schoolteachers.
Republican Congressional leaders abolished committees on global warming and ended recycling programs in the House cafeteria, claiming "green" initiatives are too expensive and compostable utensils melt in hot soup and break in salads. The GOP wants to end cheap government mortgages by abolishing Fannie Mae because it competes with for-profit banks. They also seek to abolish the EPA, along with government support of Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio; and Republican Ron Paul wants to abolish almost all government agencies.
Is the GOP creating a new role for America as a laughing stock of the world, or is American simply becoming one giant loony bin?
Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire.