Remember Bill Clinton's infamous 1996 declaration of surrender to conservative dogma, "The era of Big Government is over"? Well, I think it's time to issue a declaration of our own for 2012 and going forward to put a nicely symmetric book-end on that tragedy. It's time for a clear consensus in the Democratic Party that we will put an end to the disastrous economic consequences that have dogged this country's every step since Ronald Reagan made aversion to taxing the wealthy or spending public money on anything remotely worthwhile into a state religion. We have just overwhelmingly won an election where failed, delusional, and corrupt Republican economic fantasies were put in stark contrast to an explicit promise to raise taxes on the rich, so the mandate is there and it's time to put that into words - time to shout it from the rooftops of the crumbling schools and down all the pothole-strewn streets of America neglected by the GOP Congress: The Era of Cheapskates is Over.
The wealth of this nation is more than equal to the modest tasks before it: More than equal to repave every square inch of every road level, safe, and durable, and keep it that way because this is a country that maintains its infrastructure; more than enough that every school in America from Malibu to rural Mississippi be a shining, clean, safe, and opportunity-filled palace to the wonders of education; more than enough that every American have the right to a free college education, because there is no down side to such a thing; more than enough that every American be able to see doctors and dentists whenever they damn well want to, never mind need to, and not have their paychecks ripped to shreds for the "privilege" of something that is a human right; more than enough to care for our natural wonders without auctioning them off to rapacious vultures while demanding user fees for access to public parks. More than enough, in other words, for the word "public" to actually mean public - parks, transit, education, all of it.
All that has stood in the way is a recalcitrant, arrogant, and virulently un-American minority of entitled wealthy people with no conscience or country - people who hopscotch from country to country with the carefree ease and indifference with which a person in ordinary circumstances crosses the street, shopping for nations, flags, and laws that will best kowtow to them the way that you or I shop for groceries. But this borderless, lawless, careless existence has not made the right-wing contingent of this tiny demographic more cosmopolitan or given them a greater appreciation of the depth and breadth of humanity, and certainly not its hopes and dreams: Quite the opposite. Not only are we not their countrymen, and morally beneath them for simply having less money, but are barely even owed acknowledgement as human beings.
This is hardly surprising, of course - people hate those whom they wrong, and it's hard not to do wrong to the world when your wealth grows on auto-pilot with no moral or ethical checks and balances, entirely on its own inertia. All they have to do is take our money, subvert our governments, and then move their money around to escap the consequences - burn down one country and flee to another, always looking for new pickings, and yet never personally experiencing anything even resembling consequences for bad behavior. It is already almost impossible to convict these people of crimes because they wield greater resources than any government is typically willing to spend on a single case, so they are effectively reduced by their wealth back to a state of moral infancy with no restraint on their impulses. Some manifest as idiot party people, some as egomaniacs, and some as ruthless tyrants, but one thing is for sure - responsible citizenship on any level is the rare exception.
Most of these people were born into their privileges, yet vehemently insist that not only does their conspicuous lack of merit or productive achievement not obligate them to give anything back, but that the equally conspicuous presence of merit among people with far fewer resources does not even entitle them to opportunity when such would be an inconvenience or a threat to established wealth. And in this agenda, their faithful and eager servants, the Republican Party, have always been hard at work serving them at the expense of the United States of America. The Party of Lincoln is now ironically the Party of Slavery, violently defending deranged economic policies built on the degradation of the vast majority to serve the idleness and arrogant conceits of a selfish and disloyal few with increasingly little emotional or financial connection to America.
For thirty years, these stateless entities who consider our nation little more than a trough to feed at - and who were born to the resources that make it possible because their grandfathers were rewarded for being industrious in more taxy-and-spendy times in US history - have ruled over our lives like invisible pharaohs, wielding veto power over our democracy and all functions of government. Better any number of Americans die due to easily preventable circumstances than that one fraction of one percent of additional taxation be allowed to trouble the delicate sensibilities of these people's accountants (plural); better a thousand children die from lack of services, have truncated lifespans from poverty and lack of opportunity; better the United States of America that generations fought for, worked for, and in many cases died for unravel at the seams into a disparate, medieval pastiche of semi-livable vs. degenerate Third World states than that the slightest exercise of national and human obligation impinge itself on the awareness of those who consider themselves masters over the Earth (and the pathetic corporate gangster wannabes who imitate them on a more local level).
That game is over. They will still play it, since they don't know how to do anything else, and their mercenary servants will still use every professional skill at their disposal to lobby, litigate, bribe, lie, propagandize, steal, and kill their way to a world where they are God and all must bow before them, but they will be talking to only themselves from here on out. This is real, and we are free people who no longer consent to their corrupt rule - free by virtue of our own choice to be so, not by the grace of their permission to be rescinded when they find democracy inconvenient. The election just concluded is one prominent expression of that new and growing determination, and more will follow, because, once again, the Era of Cheapskates is Over. We are no longer interested in indulging the whinings of self-absorbed millionaires and billionaires who have never been richer or less taxed, but who say that America can't afford to even meet - let alone exceed - the standards of 21st century Western civilization.
We are no longer interested in the broken record Republican Party Line in service to this civically moribund and yet ever-wealthier demographic. We are no longer interested in corrupt millionaire officeholders with government healthcare telling everyone else that the government is broke and the only way to fix it is for the rest of us to get paid less, work longer hours, have fewer benefits, drastically reduce or eliminate public services entirely, take away our right to unionize, let their campaign contributors pollute our air and water with impunity, deny our children any education not offered through some religion or corporation, and turn America into the Holy Roman Empire - a swamp of petty local tyrants, brutally enslaved peasants, and fanatic religious movements. Sorry, but the answer is No.
We choose America. We choose civilization. We choose education. We choose decency, honor, opportunity, equality, change, science, and the instrument of it all will be Good Government - that perennial enemy of the conservative and the criminal alike, since they are so often one and the same. That means when we don't have enough revenue to properly invest in our society, we raise it by raising taxes; and when we raise taxes, we will raise them first and most on those who can best afford them, not on those who are the least powerful and least able to afford them. No one is entitled to infinite money, and even if they were it would certainly not be a higher level of right than the right of everyone else to freely draw breath in their own country rather than being suffocated and eaten by predators with overweening and brazenly criminal financial empires.
If you have more money than even your grandchildren could spend, let someone else spend it who can actually use it to make the world a better and more livable place. Frankly, we're not asking. That money was not conjured out of thin air by your will alone, but by the brilliance, sweat, and sacrifice of generations, and the work of contemporaries who are no less entitled to the opportunities that originally made your privileges possible. Reap what you sow, and sow back some of what you reaped for the next tenants of the land to enjoy the same bounty, or be treated as the thieving pestilence you are.
Now, I know the kind of policies that would rebuild America will never pass a Republican Congress, and they never have to - the pressure on them to start behaving like Americans rather than paid employees of their wealthiest campaign contributors will only increase the more they resist, and tax their political capital down to bankruptcy. The Cheapskates have robbed, raped, disgraced, and starved this nation long enough, and their time is over. In fact, I think they know it, judging by the growing overtness and declining effectiveness of their attempts to rule over our society: The more pompously and belligerently they lie and lord over us, the faster and more durably the American people grow away from them.
The rich can pay more - a LOT more - without feeling it anywhere but in their inflated egos, and government can spend more - a LOT more - on all the things that are worthwhile: Not just the necessities, but the dreams and desires of an intrepid, healthy, and confident society. We want nothing more to do with the paranoid fears and psychotic fixations that have reduced so many Red States to impoverished rubble. Time to wake up from the long conservative nightmare, and tell whatever parasites have been profiting from it to bugger off.