Because we have, quite properly, been focused on the disaster called Trump, we, or at least I, have been less attentive to the harm threatened by the Republican Party. It is time, however, to think about how to undo the calamitous harm that the Republicans have done to America with the tax bill they are in the process of passing. This legislation is the fulfilment of desires Republicans have harbored for more several generations. As someone wryly observed, Paul Ryan has been dreaming of this moment since he first read Atlas Shrugged.
Most attention has been directed to the increase this bill will bring about in America’s already extraordinary inequality in the distribution of income and wealth [the latter being far more unequally distributed than the former] and to the assault on health insurance contained in the legislation. But we must not lose sight of the longer term consequences, which are intentional and truly disastrous. The bill will dramatically increase the yearly deficit and therefore the national debt. Republicans mouth assurances that the loss of revenue will be made up by increased economic growth, but they do not really believe that and in fact would be disappointed if it were to turn out to be true.
The real purpose of increasing the debt is to create a justification for doing what Republicans have wanted to do since the nineteen thirties: dismantle the entire social democratic welfare state. Their dream is to be “forced” to privatize Social Security, end Medicaid, diminish and then end Medicare, and in general return America to where it was during the Great Depression.
Can they be stopped? Never mind our dreams of socialism. Can we hang onto such protections as eighty years of struggle have secured for the poor and for those genuinely in the middle class [which is to say, households with annual income of fifty to sixty thousand, not one hundred to two hundred thousand]?
There really is only one answer to that question, and it isn’t revolution. I mean, let’s get real. The answer is the vote. We need at an absolute minimum to take back and then hold onto the House. We need to fight as hard as we can to take back the Senate [allowing us to block more Gorsuches before it is too late]. Then we need to take the Presidency, and start undoing some of the damage. I realize that this is not an intellectually interesting answer, one that allows us to cite recherché social theorists or talk about Marx [my personal favorite pastime]. It is about as much fun as flossing or counting calories. But it is our only chance.
The wind is blowing in our direction. When you win an unwinnable Senate seat in Alabama and take a Virginia House of Delegates seat in a recount by one vote, you know this is your time.