We're all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us--Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)
They got hammered in 2006, then completed knocked out in 2008. So they've decided on their latest winning strategy. It doesn't matter that most Americans want something done, and quickly, in the public sector to turn around the private sector's crisis. The GOP has decided that the way to get the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and the least educated and the majority of minorities to start listening again is to vote against the Congressional stimulus package. The GOP, said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, will "need to resist this package with every strength that we have."
It's like GM deciding that its key to survival lies in building a lot more Suburbans and Hummers. But even GM isn't that stupid. The GOP it seems, has learned nothing from the last two election cycles. Worshipping at the altar of the free market no longer stirs the imaginations of Americans, particularly when they can't afford to buy anything on the free market, because they have lost their jobs or are afraid that they might lose them.
Here's the risk: if the stimulus package passes without substantial GOP votes, and it works, the 2010 elections will be full of Democratic challengers contending that GOP incumbents "don't represent the values of the American voter." If it doesn't work, those same challengers will say that it's the fault of an obstructionist GOP. The free market/small government/lower aria is a little flat these days.
Last week, 75,000 American workers at corporate stalwarts like Home Depot, Caterpillar, and Sprint lost their jobs. And that was just on Monday. Around the country, cities like Rome, Georgia are burning. According to the Georgia Labor Department, unemployment claims are up 350% in the once vibrant manufacturing town. Here in South Carolina, each day brings another round of brutal plant closings and lay-offs. In fact, South Carolina and Indiana had the largest percentage gain in jobs lost during the past 30 days. And just wait until next Friday, when the unemployment figures come out: five straight months of nerve-shattering job losses are sure to push the national average to 7.5%. (Watch what's left of your retirement fund vaporize after that announcement. )
Meantime, on Friday, the GOP elected its first black leader who told the faithful :"I know we’re living in the era of bipartisanship…I thought it was very important to send a signal, and you sent it loudly, very clearly, that this party, the leadership of this caucus, would stand first and foremost with the American people. You made it very clear that in order to grow through this recession that you not redistribute the wealth of the people of this nation."
But of course, the GOP has been all about redistribution of wealth--and it has not been to the middle and lower classes. So while the rest of the country has stopped paying attention to them, Michael Steele and the GOP string band have tuned up their fiddles for another chorus of "Fire on the Mountain."