Monday, October 30, 2017

Details on the Bubble

I haven't mentioned Doug Muder's Weekly Sift blog much lately, but it continues to be must-reading every Monday. Today, as we're hearing about the Manafort indictment, Muder is talking about why the Republicans controlling Congress can't get anything done. He discusses both their attempts to repeal the ACA and their current efforts on "tax reform." The underlying cause of their ineffectiveness comes down to this:

Republican base voters live in a fantasy world that long predates Donald Trump. It has been carefully constructed over decades by politicians, Fox News, talk radio, and the rest of the conservative media establishment. Here are a few features of that fantasy world:
  • Tax cuts pay for themselves by creating economic growth.
  • Government spending is mostly waste, so it can be slashed without hurting anybody.
  • Climate change isn’t happening, or if it is, burning fossil fuels has nothing to do with it.
  • When the rich make money, everybody makes money.
  • The free market can solve all problems, including providing healthcare to the poor.
  • White Christians are the primary victims of discrimination.
  • The uninsured can get all the medical treatment they need in emergency rooms.
  • Elections at all levels are tainted by massive voter fraud, as millions of illegal immigrants cast ballots.
  • Big business wants what’s best for America, so there’s no need to stop them from polluting our air and water, or from making products that kill their workers or customers.
The fantasies are so extensive, and so divorced from reality, that there is literally no major issue that can be discussed in a rational way inside that bubble.

Any public debate Republican politicians participate in has to happen inside that bubble, because anyone who disputes any of those fantasies will be labeled a RINO and will likely face a primary opponent who sticks to the bubble orthodoxy.

That process worked great as long as they were out of power.
I would note that Muder's list of fantasy-world-creating institutions is heavy on media and light on the intellectual institutions that underpin those media, all of which are funded by people like the Koch brothers and the Mercer family. I've been resisting reading Jane Mayer's modern classic Dark Money because I'm not sure I can handle my reaction to it.

As Ebony Elizabeth put it on Twitter a few days ago,
I can't believe the past 40 years of American life have sucked so hard because a few billionaires had tantrums over mid-20th century gains.

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