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Ebeneezer Scrooge, the Grinch, and the Modern GOP

By all accounts, the GOP in Congress is determined to eliminate unemployment insurance for more than one million Americans who have been without a job since Memorial Day (or longer). Right after Christmas.

Ebeneezer Scrooge would be proud of them. The Grinch, after he got over his pique for not thinking of this himself, would be cheering them on.

Meanwhile, FDR would be angry.

At the FDR memorial, which sits near the other end of the Mall from the Capitol, stands the sculpture seen in the photo here. On the left is a struggling farm couple, on the right is a line outside a soup kitchen, and between them is inscribed a bold indictment of the Republicans in our present Congress:

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.

(What a marked contrast from those who point to a rising stock market, ignore the huge numbers of unemployed and underemployed, and shout “All is well!”)

Elsewhere at the memorial is another FDR quote, carved into the stone wall:

No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order.

The GOP didn’t like FDR when he said these things, and they still don’t like him now.

I saw the FDR memorial this summer, and those figures haunt me today. I see them walking down the streets of town — they’re the ones with no shopping bags. I see them lined up at the soup kitchen of my church, trying to hold on to their dignity while feeding themselves and their families. I see them at school Christmas programs, looking a bit more ragged, a bit more tired, and a lot more hungry than some of the other families.

And the GOP in Congress cannot see them at all. They’re too busy looking at the Invisible Bond Vigilantes, the Deficit Fairy, and the spreadsheets laid before them by conservative think tanks.

They see numbers, and grumble about waste. They see the length of time these folks have been without jobs, and shout “Fraud!” They see money going out, and shout about bootstraps.

Here’s a word for the GOP, especially those of a more religious bent: there are no bootstraps in the Bible. The angel didn’t tell Mary, “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps!” No, he told her that God has a special concern for the poor and powerless, and God would act, through her, to lift these folks up and put down the wealthy and powerful.

Scrooge eventually figured out that spreadsheets are not the be-all and end-all of life, and the Grinch ultimately saw that possessions are not how one measures success. I have little hope that the GOP in Congress will follow their example.

No, the GOP seems intent on following the example of Cain, after he killed his brother. When God asked him “where is your brother, Abel?” Cain replied “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as he tried to hide what he had done to his brother.

Having pushed for the deregulation the allowed Wall Street to crash the global economy and throw millions out of work, having stacked the deck in favor of the wealthy, having protected the banks from accountability over their rapaciousness and callousness, and having fought against any kind of stimulus programs to shorten the Lesser Depression, the modern GOP is still asking Cain’s question.

Note to the GOP: this is not a question you really want to ask. You seem to have forgotten the answer to that question (but FDR didn’t). It was “Yes, you are.”


h/t to either Mrs Dr Peterr or me for the photographs (I forget who took these) and used because we don’t to ask anyone else’s permission to use our travel photos. But I’ll spare you the five hour slide show.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.