Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans are a cynical and calculating bunch. They are extremists the likes of which we have never seen in American politics.
In commenting on the anemic jobs growth in the last quarter - 96,000 jobs - they place the entire blame on the president. Not a hint of criticism was directed at congressional Republicans. But everyone knows that Republican leaders in the House and Senate have attempted to block anything that might remotely reinvigorate the economy and create jobs.
Even small initiatives have been obstructed and then dismissed as examples of the Obama administration's fascination with "big government budget-busting" solutions to problems that can only be solved, so Romney and gang say, by the private sector.
But there is no evidence that entrepreneurial capitalism will set the economy on a dynamic, job-creating growth path. Facts on the ground tell us that while the engine of capitalism is not quite on life support today, it is experiencing, by nearly all measures, a crisis that is more deep-going and protracted than any crisis since the Great Depression.
To entertain the idea that the system will move onto a robust path of development on its own, as a result of a "burst" of entrepreneurial activity, is delusional, as is increasingly evident with each passing quarter of dismal economic reports.
In fact, long-term stagnation is more likely than robust recovery.
Thus waiting for the economy to first jump start itself and then throw itself onto a sustained high-employment growth trajectory is a fool's errand. It just won't happen. Capitalism is not a self-correcting system, especially in current conditions.
But I don't believe that the Republicans even care if the economy rebounds. A sluggish economy in their view is their only path to the White House in this election cycle. If confronted, they will deny it, but if you judge them by their actions in Congress, it seems apparent that sabotage of the president's economic plans is at the top of their agenda. It is the thin reed on which their return to power and domination rests.
To say that Romney and his fellow Republicans are consciously undermining the economy for the purpose of winning this election is probably hard for many Americans to swallow.
Even with their skepticism of politicians and the political process, many American people still believe that there are bounds beyond which neither party would go to accomplish its aims. That is not the case in this instance in my opinion. No matter what the cost and pain, Romney and the Republicans are hell bent on undermining any recovery of growth rates and jobs in order to emerge triumphant on Election Day.
Don't forget that today's Republican Party is of a different vintage than the Republicans of even a few decades ago. The extremists who used to be on the fringe are now at the center of the GOP. They formulate policy, they set the agenda, and they frame the message.
Moreover, they have an existential fear that demographic trends - the country is becoming majority minority while the Republican base among older white voters is literally dying out - are going to render them a historical anachronism. For them, that ratchets up the stakes of this election. It becomes their "last stand." It incites them to do whatever is necessary to win in November - lies, demagogy, racism, misogyny, immigrant bashing, homophobia, voter suppression and intimidation, and yes, economic sabotage.
Will they realize their objective? I don't think so, but the outcome of these elections isn't written in the stars by any means. No stone should be left unturned to ensure the decisive defeat of Romney, Republicans in Congress, and right-wing extremism.
Photo: DonkeyHotey // CC 2.0