Unless you buy into whatever Republicans are selling without thinking very hard, very little of what they are doing makes the slightest bit of sense. They are against virtually everything that would make us better off as individuals and as a country.
As Paul Krugman noted in his NYT column of 21 March 2011, Republicans are, for example, doing everything they can to oppose Elizabeth Warren, who is charged with establishing the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now, there are few people who could do the job better, but what Republicans actually want is to oppose protecting citizens from the predations of the financial barons that brought us to our present sorry state. I am unable to imagine a coherent reason for this opposition.
Because the disaster in Japan is in the news now, the thought of nuclear meltdown and radioactive contamination is fresh in our minds, and we’re all wondering whether nuclear power is such a good idea after all. But that will soon fade. (Is anyone still thinking about the big earthquake and tsunami in southeast Asia?) When it does, you can count on Republicans to say that it is absolutely essential that we have more and more atomic electricity plants because that’s good for business, and therefore good for America. And anyway, the new plants are really safe.
For the record, not one ounce of radioactive waste has ever been permanently stored anyplace on the planet. Nor is there any possibility it ever will. (Check out John D’Agata’s book About a Mountain if you don’t agree. He points out the absolute insanity of trying to store this stuff—which must be safely kept for longer than we have been a species—in our best hope, Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas.) Nor is it possible to build safe nuclear plants. They can be safer, but even then corruption, mismanagement, and natural disaster can bring all to naught, and they must be safely managed forever. Then there’s the inconvenient thing that Republicans ought to care about but don’t: nuclear power has not generated one cent of profit anywhere on earth.
Here are the two biggest domestic problems facing the country at the moment: unemployment and lack of medical insurance. Do Republicans have any interest at all in doing something about this? No. Their entire focus (aside from opposing anything and everything that originates on the Democratic side of the aisle) is on paying down the national debt and balancing the annual budget. The fact that unemployment is the driving force behind these deficits, and that many millions of suffering Americans are unemployed and without medical insurance is not relevant. We don’t care about them. Nor is it relevant that the amount of money available for balancing the budget even with the most extreme slashing is simply not enough to balance the budget.
Here’s a teeny fault in how conservative Republicans are thinking. Conservatives believe that it is the family, specifically the father, that is the prime element of society. Families must rely on their own strength. They are responsible for their own wellbeing. That is ostensibly why conservatives oppose such things as consumer protection. We must protect ourselves. But this is loose thinking. They expect an average man to protect his family from the predations of the financial world, for example, a place where once a week someone goes on trial for one form of predation or another, where billions of dollars change hands daily in manipulating a system that not even the professionals understand. In addition, it’s more than a little hypocritical for politicians to scorn anyone who is helpless in the face of financial power, because the entire Congress is virtually controlled from the election onward by these same powers.
I spend a lot of hours trying to understand our political situation, and to imagine ways to improve it. I am completely stumped by the blindness of conservative Republicans, about their uncaring attitude toward the ordinary American, and most of all, how they managed to convince these same average Americans that Republicans have the best answers for them, when everything Republicans do makes their lives worse.