Monday, June 05, 2017

Making Ignorance Great Again

As noted many times over the years, the Republican Party was once a political party that valued science and knowledge.  Education and learning were valued.  Not anymore.  Now, inconvenient facts are simply ignored, or, worse yet, said to be untrue.  How did this happen?  One word: Christofacists.  Or, if you prefer two words: evangelical Christians.  Before I resigned from the Virginia Beach GOP City Committee, I had seen an active member of the Christian Coalition elected to the position of Vice-Chairman. Next came a coup of sorts when the then Chairwoman was voted out and replaced by a man who was only too happy to pander to the demands of the Christofacists and, just as disturbingly, have more of them elected to the City Committee.  What happened in Virginia Beach happened time and time again across the country.  The result is a party that lies constantly - a trait I noted in the Christofascists time and time again - and embraces ignorance.  Anything - and anyone - who goes against the knuckle dragging ideology is said to be untrue or not a "real American."  A column in the New York Times bemoans today's GOP which has reached new lows under Donald Trump.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump just took us out of the Paris climate accord for no good reason. I don’t mean that his decision was wrong. I mean, literally, that he didn’t offer any substantive justification for that decision. Oh, he threw around a few numbers about supposed job losses, but nobody believes that he knows or cares where those numbers came from. It was just what he felt like doing.
And here’s the thing: What just happened on climate isn’t an unusual case — and Trump isn’t especially unusual for a modern Republican. For today’s G.O.P. doesn’t do substance; it doesn’t assemble evidence, or do analysis to formulate or even to justify its policy positions. Facts and hard thinking aren’t wanted, and anyone who tries to bring such things into the discussion is the enemy.
Consider another huge policy area, health care. How was Trumpcare put together? Did the administration and its allies consult with experts, study previous experience with health reform, and try to devise a plan that made sense? Of course not. In fact, House leaders made a point of ramming a bill through before the Congressional Budget Office, or for that matter anyone else, could assess its likely impact.
When the budget office did weigh in, its conclusions were what you might expect: If you make huge cuts in Medicaid and reduce subsidies for private insurance — all so you can cut taxes on the wealthy — a lot of people are going to lose coverage. Is 23 million a good estimate of those losses? Yes — it might be 18 million, or it might be 28 million, but surely it would be in that range.
So how did the administration respond? By trying to shoot the messenger. . . . . He also accused the office — headed by a former Bush administration economist chosen by Republicans — of political bias, and smeared its top health expert in particular.
But Mulvaney and his party don’t study issues, they just decide, and attack the motives of anyone who questions their decisions.
Which brings us back to climate policy.
On climate change, influential conservatives have for years clung to what is basically a crazy conspiracy theory — that the overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth is warming due to greenhouse-gas emissions is a hoax, somehow coordinated by thousands of researchers around the world. And at this point this is effectively the mainstream Republican position.
Do G.O.P. leaders really think this conspiracy theory is true? The answer, surely, is that they don’t care. Truth, as something that exists apart from and in possible opposition to political convenience, is no longer part of their philosophical universe.
And as health care and climate go, so goes everything else. Can you think of any major policy area where the G.O.P. hasn’t gone post-truth? Take budgeting, where leaders like Paul Ryan have always justified tax cuts for the rich by claiming the ability to conjure up trillions in extra revenue and savings in some unspecified way. The Trump-Mulvaney budget, which not only pulls $2 trillion out of thin air but counts it twice, takes the game to a new level, but it’s not that much of a departure.
As George Orwell noted many years ago in his essay “In Front of Your Nose,” people can indeed talk nonsense for a very long time, without paying an obvious price. But “sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
The party base simply rejects anything that challenges what it was taught in childhood, especially childish, myth based religious beliefs.  For them, it is more comforting to reject objective reality than to face the wrongness of their beliefs.  And today's Republican "leaders" are only too happy to play the game to stay in power.  They truly are political whores of the worse kind.   

No comments: