Life in the Republican bubble
January 14, 2014
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Upton Sinclair
Republican politicians and pundits are living examples of the above quote. They live in a world where adopting a Republican idea for providing health care insurance (the ACA) is equivalent to leading the U.S. into socialism. They live in a world where socialism leads to dictatorship, even though the happiest countries in the world — including Norway, Denmark, Canada, Netherlands, and New Zealand — are socialist, prosperous and very free.
They live in a world where cutting the deficit in half is equivalent to "exploding" deficits ($1.42 trillion reduced to $658 billion and declining). They live in a world where it's okay for a Republican president (Reagan) to triple the national debt, but when a Democratic president (Obama) slows federal spending growth the most since Eisenhower, that is "runaway" spending.
In the real world, most of the states that voted for Mitt Romney (Red) receive more in federal money and aid than they pay in taxes; these are the "taker" states. Most of the states that voted for Obama (Blue) receive less federal money and aid than they pay in taxes; these are the "donor" states. But in Republicanland, the Red states are the makers, and the Blue states are the takers. The "moocher" states magically become the providers. Reality is irrelevant.
I keep reading that Obama is a dictator, that he has done terrible things, that he should be impeached, but I never see any specific charges given. This is because he has done nothing that wasn't previously done by Republicans — czars, executive orders, vacations, etc. President G.W. Bush advocated the "Unitary Executive" theory, which says the president alone has the power to decide what laws to follow in wartime and neither Congress, the courts, nor anyone else should be allowed to interfere. In other words, Bush believed the president could and should be a dictator. Was that okay?
Republicans say Obama chooses which laws to enforce and which to ignore. They have apparently forgotten the hundreds of signing statements by Bush, where he declared he had the authority to disobey over 750 laws he didn't feel like enforcing, even though they had been passed by Congress and signed by him. Where was their outrage then?
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Republicans are furious that Obama has "forced" Common Core educational standards onto the states, even though the standards were written by The Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, and other experts, not by the federal government. Each state had the option to incorporate these standards or not. Common Core may or may not succeed, but it isn't being mandated by Obama.
Some recent columns illustrate this separation from reality. One columnist wrote, "Come to think of it, other than the cool planes and helicopters, who needs the government?" Next sentence? "I am thankful for our military." Not much irony there! Just as Republicans didn't realize the government shutdown meant shutting down the government, apparently some of them don't realize the military is a branch of the government not to mention the Veterans Administration, Social Security and Medicare. But who needs those?
Another columnist talked about how the Pilgrims had tried socialism and it failed, so they switched to capitalism and thrived. Again, this story only works if the date of the first Thanksgiving is changed to 1623 instead of the actual date of 1621. Of course, in Republican-land, this is no problem. Facts just get in the way of a good story.
Do you know who did practice socialism? The First Century Christian church. Read Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-35. Clearly these early Christians would be shunned by today's Tea Party as communists. But then, the early Christians wouldn't understand the Tea Party's contempt for the poor, so I guess it all balances out.
This disconnection from facts would be amusing if it didn't have such serious consequences. There are millions of people who are genuinely afraid of President Obama, who believe he has committed unconstitutional acts that no other president has done, who believe he is somehow planning to put us under the sovereignty of the United Nations, and who believe health care reform will result in death panels. Their fear is real, even though what they fear isn't. The fear mongers are profiting from this, not caring who is hurt. Reality can be frightening enough. To profit by artificially manufacturing panic is just sinful.
Jeanette Strong's column appears every other Wednesday.