Keep the Faith, or Change It?

Suppose you knew a guy who owned a local store. He was “one of those” you didn’t like on sight because he was the wrong color. You went to his store now and then because he was often the only one who had certain things you needed. But you suspected him of some sort of criminal behavior. The store had to be a front, because those people were always doing criminal things. It was in their DNA. Always cheating, always lying. Selling drugs.

But he died, and you learned that he had supported dozens of orphaned children over the years, many of whom were now successful adults. In his will he left a large sum of money to establish a scholarship for graduates of the local high school. No one knew. No one even suspected.

He was “one of those”. Will you change your mind about him, about those others?

Will you acknowledge that you were wrong?
Or will you find some excuse,
like “these are false figures”?

Suppose you believed that the school system was squandering money. Every year they spent more, but the schools never got better. Every year the taxes got higher. Every year the teachers got a big raise when you did not. And the teachers were a bunch of loafers anyway. What an easy job, with all that time off.

But one day when you were holding forth about it, someone showed you a newspaper report about the schools. Everything you believed about them was wrong. The budget was declining, but student evaluations were holding steady. The school tax had been unchanged for twenty years. Teacher salaries lagged behind inflation. Teachers were required to improve professionally during the summer, and too many of them burnt out and left.

Will you acknowledge that you were wrong? Or will you find some phony excuse, like “these are false figures”?

People whose lives are lived to follow an ideology that they believe is eternal are unlikely to reconsider their beliefs, even in the face of indisputable facts that flatly contradict their beliefs.

Consider a primary belief of Republicans in recent years, that government costs and the national debt under Obama are skyrocketing. But they are not, actually. They skyrocketed under George W. Bush with his ill-advised wars and massive tax cuts for the rich, but they have actually declined under Obama. Is that enough evidence that the Republicans who made the claim that government expenditures were increasing would realize that they were wrong, and that Barack Obama’s administration has actually put government expenditure on a downward trend? So far it is not. Republicans who made the expenses-out-of-control claim still make that claim every chance they get. The actuality has had no effect on their beliefs.

People who follow an ideology they
believe is fixed are unlikely to change.

Some of these people actually believe in a whole slew of stupidities about the president and his administration: he’s a Muslim communist terrorist who was born in Kenya. He plans to confiscate your guns. He doesn’t believe in America. He plans to sell us out to a world government. He will somehow compel Shariah law. The claims go on and on, and they are all ridiculous.

Unfortunately, such beliefs are not confined to fringe elements with a tenuous grasp on reality. A number of senior elected members of Congress say the same things, and so do some so-called leaders of the business community.

Then there’s the health care debacle. The House votes every few days to repeal Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, claiming it will create all sorts of dire consequences that will ruin America, absolutely none of which have happened, are happening, or will happen. Some 40 House votes so far. 8.5 million Americans will shortly receive substantial rebates from their insurance companies because of Obamacare. A state study in New York showed that health care costs for New Yorkers will fall by 50% under Obamacare, putting their cost in line with the best of national plans. Likewise in Maryland. It is reasonable to assume that the same savings are available to the other 48 states.

But many of those state residents won’t get it. Why? Because those states are controlled by Republicans, who have determined, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that Obamacare is a national disaster.

False beliefs are not amusing; they are dangerous.

It is important for Republicans to prove that the Republican vision is the best one for Americans. This is an item of faith, and as such, the reality that they are completely wrong is irrelevant. They cannot disbelieve what they believe, regardless of the evidence.

False beliefs like these are not amusing; they are dangerous. Besides the slanders against a president democratically elected twice by significant margins (in spite of ongoing Republican attempts to stifle the vote) they speak of a large number of citizens and elected officials who simply don’t understand what reality means, preferring instead their fictions and ideology.

Millions of Americans will be denied affordable health care in Republican-controlled states because of Republican obstructionism. Some of them will die because of it.


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