Just Sayin'

Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.

The Will of the People

Political, Wisconsin, U.S.

Today's Republican Party often takes policy positions that run counter to the wishes of the American people. Rather than working for the folks who pay their salaries, Republican politicians are taking most of their direction from powerful lobbyists, deep-pocketed donors, and their party's loony fringe. Below are just a few examples in which GOP politicians are standing in the way of popular reforms.

Marriage equality. In a March Washington Post poll, 59% of Americans support same-sex marriage and only 34% are against it. The opposition to wildly popular marriage equality comes almost exclusively from Republican politicians.

For example, Wisconsin Attorney General Van Holland vowed to fight any court decisions which allow same-sex marriage. And Scott Walker recently said that he wanted to "spend his time focused on the state’s economy and not issues like gay marriage." I guess that instead of dealing with important state issues like marriage equality, he would rather be in Las Vegas kissing the ring of billionaire donor Sheldon Adelson.

ACA. Republicans are also on the wrong side of public opinion in their maniacal fixation on killing the Affordable Care Act. In a March Kaiser poll, 59% of Americans want to improve the law or leave it as is. Despite four years of Fox News propaganda, a meager 29% want to repeal it.

Similar numbers of people want their states to expand Medicaid. In an October Marquette poll, 56% of Wisconsin citizens oppose the rejection of federal expansion money by Walker and his Republican legislature. Only 37% support Walker's rejection.

Citizens United. Our political system has been taken-over by big corporate money since the Citizens United decision. In an October 2012 poll, over 70% of respondents favor various approaches to rein in dark-money spending. An outright ban on corporate political spending is favored 52% to 39%.

Clearly, there is strong sentiment to limit the damage wrought by the Citizens United decision. Yet, Republican politicos stampede to block progress whenever reform bills are brought forward. Clearly, the GOP's corporate masters will not abide any lessening of their influence. Without bipartisan efforts for change, "corporations will continue to be people" and "money will continue to be speech".

Minimum Wage. A January Quinnipiac poll reveled that a hefty 71% of Americans want to raise the minimum wage. Only 27% are against such an increase. However, in March every single Republican in the US House voted against raising the minimum wage. Scott Walker dismissed a move to increase Wisconsin's minimum wage as "a political grandstanding stunt". Increasing numbers of Republican politicians are calling to abolish the minimum wage outright. These "representatives" surely do not represent the will of the people.

Abortion rights. A January 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 53% of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Only 29% want the right to a legal abortion repealed. Yet, Republican politicians act as though they have a national mandate to close clinics, impose intrusive procedures, and otherwise limit the reproductive rights of women.

Gun Safety laws. After each school shooting massacre, calls revive for common-sense gun safety laws. Such laws are wildly popular with the American people. For example, in an April 2013 poll, universal background checks are supported by 91% of Americans. Limits on ammo clip capacity are supported by 58-38%, and restrictions on the sale of assault weapons favored by 59-36%.

Yet, despite the the will of the people, even these weak weapon safety reforms cannot get past Republicans in Congress. Congressional fear of the NRA keeps even the most dilute reforms from getting past a filibuster in the Senate or from being given the decency of a floor vote in the House.

Social Security/Medicare. A 2013 Kaiser Family poll revealed that fully 58% of Americans want no cuts to either Social Security or Medicaid. Clearly, the public wants these earned-benefit programs left alone. However, Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" (aka "Highway to Hell") would do heavy damage to Social Security and tries to replace Medicaid with a discount coupon scheme. The "Path" has been passed repeatedly by the Republican House majority and the cuts are heartily endorsed by our own Jim Sensenbrenner.

Common Core. In a recent poll conducted by the conservative Hoover Foundation, 65% of the public supports adoption of Common Core State Standards, while only 13% oppose them. Despite this widespread support, the Republican National Committee passed a resolution to reject Common Core. And after intense pressure from Tea Party activists, Wisconsin Republican legislators recently introduced Assembly Bill 617, a measure to abandon the standards in our state. Evidently, the loony fringe of the GOP has developed paranoid delusions about uniform education standards.

On issue after issue, today's Republicans are out of step with the will of the American people. The views of the majority are being increasingly ignored in favor of powerful lobbyists, rich donors, and fringe party extremists. Republican politicians are representing an increasingly tiny segment of our citizens. Since these GOP politicians insist on representing a minority viewpoint, it is only fitting that the voters turn them into a minority party.



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