Guns And Butter; A View From A Democratic (small “d”) Perspective

Guns and butter have always been a part of America’s economics and the economics of all nations throughout the world.  I don’t know how many other nations use this term or even if they are familiar with it but I do know that it is used here in America.  Many in the younger generations are probably familiar with it even if due in great part to the fact that it was used in a well-known movie entitled Baby Boy. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, guns and butter is a model that demonstrates in a nation’s budget the relationship between the amount of money that it invests in defense and the amount that it invests in civilian goods.

In simple terms, the guns piece of this model represents the amount of a nation’s budget that it dedicates to protecting itself and the butter piece represents the amount that it dedicates to civilian goods including things such as the overall caring for its citizenry.  Accordingly, it is easy to see that guns and butter are very closely related.  Either guns or butter, or both, can be effectively used by a nation to impose its will upon the people; whether those people be people of their own nation or people of other nations.

The term “guns and butter” is used in general in this article to, hopefully, capture and hold the attention of those in the aforementioned younger generations that are reading it and specifically because of America’s position as the designated leader in determining what to do about President Putin’s attempt to takeover Ukraine by brute force.  This term makes it easier for me to make the following comparison while holding the attention of the younger generations, explain it in simple terms and still make my point.  Further, it is used because of the hypocritical position that America and far too many Americans find ourselves in as it relates to defending democracy.  Now that you have endured my somewhat lengthy preamble, allow me to make my point.

Right now – via Putin’s war, Russia is trying to impose its will upon the people of Ukraine.  While the world looks on, Russia is trying to beat Ukraine into submission through the use of the “guns” provided via its guns and butter budget and through trying to render ineffective or destroy the guns and butter that Ukraine has in place.  But the world is not only looking at Putin’s war – although it is obviously at the fore and that is where the world’s attention is primarily focused right now, it is also looking at America, the leader of the free world.  It is contemplating and processing those things that we are doing to protect and enhance our own democracy as we attempt to foster this concept in other nations around the world; as we, along with NATO and other nations provide as much help as possible to Ukraine without escalating Putin’s war into World War III.

What President Putin is doing is despicable even if he isn’t purposely targeting civilian areas – which include women, children, hospitals, water supplies and food storage areas – and Russian soldiers are not raping Ukrainian women and executing innocent civilians as is currently being reported!  His vitriol toward the Ukrainian people, lack of mercy for them, lack of respect for the rules of war and his incessant lies to the Russian people only compounds the despicableness of his war.  And he is doing all of this in an effort to stop the spread of democracy!  America is rightfully doing everything that it can to assist Ukraine in defending itself against a foreign bully who wants to take the Ukrainian peoples’ land and deprive its citizens of their freedom and rights.

But America has a problem that she must deal with before she can be viewed by all Americans and other people throughout the world as a country with righteous indignation at what Putin is doing to the Ukrainian people: It’s a hypocrite problem.  Fortunately, we can deal with and work to correct this problem while at the same time helping the Ukrainian people.  President Putin deserves to be viewed as the pariah that he is and to be isolated from the rest of the world.  The only drawback is that this is hurting the entire Russian population and they don’t deserve this.

As regards America’s hypocrite problem, in the event that you have not been keeping abreast of the political news lately, the Republican Party has twisted itself into an extremely complex political pretzel trying, by hook-or-crook, to assure that it positions Republicans in the strongest position possible to retake the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm election and still project the image that they are concerned about and protecting democracy.  They are faced with a big problem in pulling this off.  First, the majority of Republicans in the Senate and House still view Donald Trump as their leader and still support him as such.  Secondly, virtually all of the Republicans in the Senate and House are supporting the curtailment of the voting rights of all Americans based solely on Mr. Trump’s “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him because the election system is rife with fraud!  There is no proof of this and even Bill Barr, Mr. Trump’s Attorney General when Mr. Trump was in office, said there was no election fraud.  Despite this, many Republican-controlled states across the country have passed hundreds of laws curtailing voting rights and there are more that are pending passage.

To make matters worse, as regards Putin’s war in Ukraine, many of the Republicans in the Senate and House are railing against President Biden and saying that he is not providing Ukraine with enough support!  The clencher?  They voted against the package that would provide Ukraine with this support!  In light of this situation and Republicans supporting the curtailment of voting rights, how much more of a hypocrite could these lawmakers be?!  And because they are our elected officials and, right or wrong, speak for the American people, it makes America – and therefore the American people, appear to be a bunch of hypocrites!  There is no doubt that the majority of Americans view a large percentage of our elected officials as hypocrites and it is very likely that the world views them as such as well; and since they are our elected officials and speak for America…  Finally, to make matters even worse, the most popular host on Fox News, which has always appeared to be an intricate part of the Republican Party – Tucker Carlson, is being used by Russian media as a poster child to justify Putin’s war.

Again, we can ultimately solve our hypocrite problem here in America while at the same time helping Ukraine and the Ukrainian people: We just need to have the resolve to do it.  It might not be an appropriate analogy to compare what Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party are doing to Americans to what Putin is doing in Ukraine because what they are doing is not nearly as brutal.  But both the Putin war and what these Republicans are doing is an attack on democracy!  Both are despicable!  And the Republicans’ attack on democracy is not made less despicable because they are using butter rather than guns; it might be made more palatable but it is made no less despicable!  Americans must remember this when we go to the polls in the 2022 midterm elections and beyond.

The Republican Party’s focus is on people of color right now as they fight to curtail voting rights and even now, they are hurting people other than just people of color; in the eyes of the Republican Party, these other people are simply collateral damage.  But let there be no doubt, after they finish with the people of color, they will be coming for you; people who are not White, rich and powerful.  Don’t get too comfortable if you are White; you must meet the entire criteria.  Let what is happening in America and Ukraine be a wakeup call for all of us.  Let this motivate all of us to scrutinize politicians more closely, “watch what they do and not what they say” and judge them accordingly.  And finally, let that close scrutiny and observation cause us to always remember that whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!

Eulus Dennis, Author – Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line