“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” — Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Republicans are becoming experts at creating their own little universe, far removed from reality. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans believe Obama was born in Kenya (false); 43 percent believe he is Muslim (false). These believers create conspiracy theories to persuade themselves that a lie is the truth. But there are two situations where the facts are indisputable to anyone with two eyes and a brain, and Republicans still refuse to see the truth.
Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August 2005. More than 1,800 people died. President George W. Bush was on vacation at the time and stayed on vacation for a few more days, while people died. In 2013, Louisiana Republicans were asked, “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?”
Then Sen. Barack Obama took office in January 2005. Bush had been president for over four years. Republican propaganda has been so effective at blaming Obama for everything that 29 percent of those Republicans questioned said Obama was responsible, while 28 percent said Bush. Forty-four percent didn’t know. Ignorance that massive is stunning.
The second example of spectacular ignorance is the birthplace of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This isn’t a secret; he held dual citizenship until 2014. But when asked, “Do you think Ted Cruz was born in the United States?” 40 percent of Republicans said, “Yes.” Ignorance is bliss. And Republicans are really blissful.
In a poll about a year ago, 68 percent of people felt the economy was just as bad as when Obama took office. For those who remember, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month when Obama was inaugurated. The stock market was at 7,949; it had dropped 40 percent since Bush’s inauguration. A total of about 1.3 million jobs had been created over eight years.
Since Obama took office, the stock market has hit record highs and we’ve had 65 straight months of job growth, with over 13 million private sectors jobs created. But again, Republican propaganda has been so successful, millions of people think we are worse off.
Republicans claim to worry about the deficit. The national debt has grown under Obama, after Bush doubled it, but the deficit itself has been cut by more than half. Obama slowed federal spending by signing the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act in February 2010. This mandates that new spending be offset with spending cuts or new revenue. You know how many congressional Republicans voted for this law? None. Republicans believe in “Borrow and spend,” not “Pay as you go.”
Only 35 percent of Republicans realize that the national debt tripled under Reagan. Obama is far more fiscally responsible than Reagan ever was; Republicans don’t care.
One more example of Republican fantasy is connected to a current candidate. On Sept. 15, Donald Trump spoke at an event held on the USS Iowa in San Pedro, Calif. This event was sponsored by Veterans for a Strong America. As he spoke, Trump thanked Veterans for a Strong America and its “hundreds of thousands” of military veteran members for their endorsement. Turns out, the group has one member, its founder, Joel Arends. It’s also not allowed to operate in California. So, the group has one member and is operating illegally, and Trump raised money for them. How dumb is that? Sadly, this is completely typical of the whole Trump campaign. Make stuff up, shout really loud, and watch people swoon with adoration. Very, very Republican.
Republicans rarely live up to their supposed principles including balancing the budget (they don’t), cutting spending (they don’t, unless it’s the safety net) and creating jobs (Democrats do better).
When GW Bush was elected, he promised “compassionate conservatism” and a humble foreign policy, since he said we shouldn’t be the world’s policemen. He failed miserably in both promises. When Obama was elected, he promised certain things; he’s fulfilled most of those promises and is working on the rest, whether Republicans like it or not.
With such rampant ignorance, it’s no wonder we can’t get meaningful legislation passed in this country. Too many Republicans have dug their feet in, standing firm on quicksand, eyes shut, fingers in their ears, refusing to see or hear anything that doesn’t fit their imaginary world. Living in the real world may not always be easy, but living in a fantasy world is downright dangerous, and they need to stop.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.