There are deep differences between Republicans and Democrats, but that’s not the debate that’s happening today. Today, Republicans have succumbed to the irrationality, magical beliefs, and outright falsehoods of ignorant and intolerant far right crazies, who demand honoring the illogical and impossible. The most distressing part of this is that otherwise intelligent people subscribe to these impossibilities.
The current effort among the furthest right Republicans is “reform”, by which is meant “finding ways to cut funding for crucial expenses and lower taxes for the very rich”. The real Republican vision is nowhere to be seen.
It will not be easy to move Republicans away from the insanity that has come to define them, because their political lives are literally controlled by billionaires and badly educated ignoramuses whose grasp of reality puts them on a par with the Taliban.
Republicans have succumbed
to the irrationality and magical beliefs
of far right crazies.
Looking at just one conservative belief, Repubs should ask themselves how sacred their Immaculate Free Market should be. No one but a devout communist would argue for omnipresent government control, but to argue that government should have no part in it at all, as many do, is insanity.
Corporate billionaires have little interest in anything but profit. If they did, they would embrace any and all steps that would stop the destruction of the human life support system, well under way, that will soon engulf us in uncontrollable decline and rising seas (not to mention make their profit irrelevant). But they oppose all steps to preserve our life support system. Such captains of industry are no friend of the people or the planet.
The real Republican vision
is nowhere to be seen.
Not that government limits have never been embraced by the bosses. From our first years, all of our new industries had import protections until they were well established. Yet it remains a Republican shibboleth that there must be no such interference in the all-benevolent Free Market. The most dangerous element of this belief in the benign wisdom of the free market is that industry can be trusted to protect the American people.
Sure. These are the people who want to disembowel the Environmental Protection Agency, and imagine that the result would be the saving of vast amounts of wasted tax money. Al contrario, the result would be the rapid decline of air and water quality and other environmental damage, creating disease, death, and decay that would cost thousands of times more than could possibly be saved. The average value to the US found in all independent cost/benefit analyses of the EPA is in the range of a trillion dollars each year.
Tea Party fools have pushed the GOP so far to the right it has become detached from reality, both in the sense of scientific reality and in its belief in blatantly racist falsehoods and religious stupidity. Lawmakers should weigh all the facts before making decisions, but they have purposely made themselves deaf, dumb, and unresponsive to rational thought.
Tea Party fools have purposely
made themselves deaf, dumb, and
unresponsive to rational thought.
Now, a country can be managed using irrational beliefs, beliefs that we have known for centuries are not the way the real world works, such as those derived from religious books that are thousands of years old. In the news today, ill-educated armies of fundamentalist Muslims (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)) are seeking to re-establish the golden age of the Caliphate, the ideal world of 1,300 years ago. The Taliban in Afghanistan have a similar goal. Both want to turn their claimed territory, and eventually the whole world, into heaven on Earth. For whom this might be heaven is unclear, because their vision requires that half of humanity remain enslaved and uneducated, and most of the remainder crushed under a primitive barbarism that denies almost everything that makes life worthwhile. But don’t worry. If you don’t agree, they will kill you. The ISIL has murdered hundreds of captive soldiers and civilians in cold blood, and even literally crucified their own soldiers who were judged to be inadequately rabid.
I haven’t heard of a proposal quite so extreme from the GOP, but they do embrace a whole series of repressive ideas that negatively affect women and groups of people they adjudge to be naturally inferior, particularly blacks, gays, and immigrants. So we could, indeed, be a country managed under irrational beliefs.
Most of these beliefs defy science,
reality, and the most basic fundamentals
on which the country was founded.
Most of these beliefs defy science, reality, and the most basic fundamentals on which the country was founded. So we find conservative Republicans who both insist on strict interpretation of our fundamental laws as expressed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, while at the same time demanding policies that are directly contradictory to them. No better example can be had than their insistence on Constitutional fundamentalism while claiming that the US is a Christian nation, a notion that is specifically contradicted by our most fundamental laws. (Not to mention that at least a fourth of us are not even nominally Christian, and others are non-observant.) Then there’s their insistence on creationism as a scientifically valid theory, and their denial of the facts of global climate change. These ignorant and irrational zealots are hardly different from the Taliban, whose minds are trapped in the seventh century, and whose idea of education consists entirely of memorizing the Koran.
Yes, we could have such a country, where everyone is taught that dinosaurs lived a few thousand years ago, presumably during Egypt’s golden age, although no evidence has ever been found. No country that believes such falsehoods can contribute anything of importance to the modern world. World-class carpets are made by hand in Afghanistan, but no up-to-date technology will come from there any time soon.
There is no part
of this wingnut fable
that is true.
Another part of Republicanism these day is a profound racism that is creating havoc in communities that do not conform to their all-male and lily-white ideal. Thus Mexicans and Mexican-Americans—my nomination for the hardest working people on the planet—and African-Americans, and all immigrants, are judged to be naturally inferior and lazy, so it’s OK to mistreat them any way we can. Women also need to be managed carefully, which the congressional GOP’s old white males are doing their best to bring about (624 bills to regulate women’s bodies in 2013 alone, 0 for men, ever). Red state governments have also been busy, passing dozens of outrageously biased laws and regulations every year, most of which are cruel and unconstitutional.
There is no part of this wingnut fable that is true, which has been proven time and again. Yet every Republican politician in the country endlessly repeats the same fairy tales, reality be damned. The strategy, used extensively by Ronald Reagan, is not unlike Hitler’s: distract the people from their misery by blaming everything on some minority group. Hitler blamed the Jews; Republicans blame gays, blacks, and immigrants. (Only immigrants with darker skin, of course. Their own immigrant relatives don’t count.) Tell this lie often enough, the belief goes, and it will become reality.
This toxic Republicanism
does not represent
what the GOP has been and could be.
The bitter irony of all this toxic Republicanism is that it does not at all represent what the GOP has been and could be. A book published by Arthur Larson in 1956, A Republican Looks at His Party, gives us a well-reasoned study of the party and what it stands for. (I’m grateful to The Pacific Bull Moose for the suggestion.) I do not agree with everything Larson said, but what he says is rational, and not based on the kind of magical thinking and racism embraced by Tea Party nitwits and Republican ignoramuses who hold debate hostage at present.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take another look at 1956 to see what a rational Republicanism could look like in the 21st century.