Every Republican since Ronald Reagan has ridden on his coattails by attacking social services such as welfare. Welfare reform became the trumpet cry of the Republicans during the so-called conservative revolution when American voters grew tired of the excesses of the New Deal and the Great Society. Ronald Reagan’s campaign story about the welfare mother who was living like a queen on the backs of working taxpayers penetrated to the very core of the institutionalized fears of socialized government in America. The fact that Reagan’s people had essentially made up this story didn’t appear to matter; it seemed to have the “feeling” of truth.
Since then, Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay and all those other dastardly Republicans whose utter contempt for appearances gave rise to the myth of the “compassionate conservative” whose face was, unfortunately for them, that of George W. Bush, have stuck to the script. Whether compassionately or rabidly conservative, the message has always remained the same. Whether talking about American citizens or illegal immigrants, the clarion call to voters is that too much government money is being spent on too many people who aren’t contributing their fare share. Whether the money goes to an African-American woman or an illegal Mexican man, the Republicans remain committed to the idea that welfare in any form sends the wrong message: If you simply give people fish instead of teaching them to fish, they’ll just keep coming back to you for more free fish. There is, it must be admitted, a certain logic to that. It must also be admitted that more than a few people have taken advantage of the paltry welfare system in America, though none to the extent of Reagan’s fictional welfare queen. That being said, the question that must be asked is: What made Republicans change their mind?
Yes, it’s true, somewhere along the way, the Republican Party changed its mind about welfare. I’m not talking about corporate welfare; the GOP has always been eager and willing to give away free money to billionaire corporations. I’m talking about how in the past five years the Republican Party actually changed their mind about the relative value of teaching poor people to fish versus giving them an unending supply of free fish. Not poor Americans, of course; the GOP has succeeded in almost entirely cutting back social services to poor Americans. No, the GOP has proven itself entirely in favor of welfare when it comes to Iraq.
The war in Iraq has been going on for years now. And there is no end in sight even without the GOP rubber stampers in control of Congress. Four years after Pres. Bush declared that the mission was accomplished, he and his fellow Republicans keep asking Americans to have patience with Iraq. Despite the fact that countless-literally-billions of dollars in money has been given to Iraq to do the exact same things that Americans apply for welfare to do, Pres. Bush and the GOP keep telling us to wait and see. When the poor mother whose welfare checks that don’t even cover her rent payments goes to the welfare office to ask for more patience in finding a job, she is told the money has dried up. She’s been told that two years is long enough; get a job or hit the streets. That has been the Republican response to welfare since it was first introduced.
But when the Iraq government, so-called, says it needs billions more because four years just isn’t long enough to create a democratic government does Pres. Bush and his GOP cronies say no? Do they tell these bozos to hit the streets and learn the hard lessons about going fishing? No. They give them more free fish. Well, free to the Iraqis.
Have you ever paid a billion dollars for a mackerel? No?
Think again. And then write your President and your Republican Congressman and your Republican Senator and ask them to stand up for their traditional beliefs and put an end to the welfare system. And when Rudy Giuliani and John McCain and Mitt Romney and the rest show up in your town, ask them this question: If welfare is bad because it sends the wrong message to Americans, why isn’t welfare bad when it sends the wrong message to the Iraq government. So-called.
These are the guys who followed George W. Bush’s lead in taking August off for vacation. They keep showing up at the welfare office in the form of the White House and asking for just a little more time to find a job and Pres. Bush keeps writing out welfare checks in the full knowledge that there is never going to be a job. Every single Republican candidate for President except Jim Paul supports this policy. While Pres. Bush cut funding for free lunch programs to poor kids, he keeps sending billions of your dollars to Iraqi politicians who, clearly, see no reason to assume responsibility for cleaning up their own mess because they know they don’t have to. Pres. Bush and the GOP love to say that talk of pulling troops out of Iraq sends the wrong message to our enemies. Well, talk of staying there until the job that has never been defined by Pres. Bush is accomplished sends the wrong message to our allies. It tells them not to be in any great hurry because as long as they remain incompetent and detached from the actual business of running a country, the American soldiers will stay to take care of their enemies and the steady stream of money will never dry up. The only way to achieve political progress in Iraq is for the Republicans to go back to being the big fat meanies they were before when it came to welfare and free government handouts. American soldiers will never stop dying in Iraq until the GOP leadership quits giving these guys free fish and hands them some fishing poles.