Conservatism and Social Divestment: A Commentary on the Republican Debate

The Tea Party debate on CNN last night was a showcase in the politics of selfishness, xenophobia, and weaponized ignorance. After watching the entire ordeal, there were many points that were made by the field of GOP contenders that were reprehensible. But for the purposes of this post, I will limit my comments to one aspect that is particularly obscene. Public political debates are good things to observe, because it can give great insight on what are considered acceptable parameters. What we saw was not only a conversation about whether Social Security should be reformed, but the question of whether it should even exist. There was talk of replacing the federal program with personal retirement accounts, and/or making retirement available through the states. To even speak of this openly was not possible even 10 years ago. The discussion around the debt ceiling and the political battles about “entitlement programs” has prepared the way for Social Security and Medicare to become political punching bags.

But there is more to this. What we see here is the emerging ideology of social divestment. In short, its the idea that you can cut social insurance programs, social services, and save costs to lead to a leaner, more efficient way of doing things. But this has dire consequences. The idea that stripping Medicare and Social Security will somehow enrich the future and bring fiscal sanity back to America is a dangerously wrong idea. Assaults on these programs, are nothing more than another manifestation of disaster capitalism. In a good economy, talk of gutting these programs would have ended political careers. Now even President Obama is calling for some reforms to Medicare. How did we get here? Is there a way back? If so, than it would mean standing for the social safety net as a matter of principle, no matter which party is advocating “reforms”

With talk of allowing the uninsured to die, have we reached an era where callousness is a political movement? All you Ron Paul supporters can start explaining yourselves, right… about.. now.

Marc W. Polite

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