One of the essential purposes of any government, indeed perhaps the primary purpose, is to provide protection for those that it governs. People formed governments because they realized that they needed this protection. Protection from the world at large, from outsiders, and from each other. Since January 20, 2001, the Republican Party has had complete control over the Federal government. They control the Congress, the Presidency, and the United States Supreme Court. So, given that control, how are they doing?
Not so well, it appears. They couldn't protect the residents of the Gulf Coast from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, they can't protect Americans in Iraq from attack, and they can't even protect teenage pages from the sexual predations of one of their own. They are failing in the most basic purposes of government.
One of the ongoing debates between conservatives and liberals is what dangers government should protect us from, what type of protection falls within the purview of the government. Liberals, for example, argue that government has an obligation to make sure that all Americans have access to medical care, conservatives argue that this should be left to the market. Liberals argue that Americans' natural environment should be protected, conservatives want to leave protection of the environment to corporations and businesses. Liberals argue that Americans should be protected from a penniless old age, once again conservatives argue that this should be left to the market.
There is ample room to debate these points, but the failure to protect displayed in Hurricane Katrina, or in Iraq, or with Representative Mark Foley is different. You don't protect Americans by disregarding warnings that levees might break because of a Category 5 Hurricane. You don't protect Americans by putting them in a foreign country with no plan to win or to exit. You surely don't protect American children by covering up for a sexual predatory Congressman for political purposes.
All of these failures represent the most basic of failures. All of them are rooted in the philosophy of the modern Republican Party. That philosophy demands that only those with money, or access, or connections deserve the protection of government. We have about 38 days to make sure that Americans get this message: you can't count on those who hate government to run government anymore than you can count on the devil to save your soul.
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