Sunday, June 03, 2018

The Great Unmasking: the Falsity of Today's "Conservatives"

I left the Republican Party and the so-called conservative moment nearly two decades ago as it became increasingly homophobic, racist, and dishonest - a trend that, in my view, directly correlates with the rise of evangelicals within the Party. Over the intervening years, things have only gotten worse with Donald Trump exemplifying the conservative movements descent into indecency and moral bankruptcy.  Since Trump occupied the White House, pretty much everything conservatives have claimed to stand for over the years has been shown to be a lie as deficits have ballooned, free trade is under attack, and we witness a meddling in the market to benefit specific industries, and the environment is trashed. Meanwhile, white Christian religious extremists and white supremacists are ascendant.  A column in the New York Times looks at this unmasking of today's false conservatives.  Here are column excerpts:

If there is any lasting benefit from the Trump era — which is by no means a sure thing, since democracy may not survive the experience — it will lie in the Great Unmasking: the revelation of just how much bad faith pervades modern conservatism.
Some of us, of course, knew this all along, and are not surprised. Conversely, many centrists and much of the news media simply refuse to face up to the asymmetry of our politics and will persist with bothsidesism even as one side drives us into the abyss. But one can at least hope that the constant revelations of past hypocrisy will have some impact.
These revelations come on many fronts. Flag-waving super-patriots who called Democrats unpatriotic are perfectly OK when Republicans actively collude with foreign dictators. Pious invokers of fiscal responsibility and hysterical debt alarmists are perfectly OK with tax cuts that explode the deficit. Professors who denounce campus political correctness as the greatest threat we face to free speech collude with right-wing activists to conduct opposition research on left-wing students.
Rather oddly, some of the few people on the right who really seem to believe what they were saying are foreign policy neoconservatives. They misled us into a disastrous war; but they appear to have been sincere about their national security concerns, and are among the few Republicans who remain steadfast in their Never Trumpism.
Over the past 40 years or so conservatives have become ever more strident in their attacks on environmental protection. They questioned the science; they insisted that any attempt to limit emissions would greatly damage economic growth; they denounced government intervention and declared the sanctity of free markets.
But none of it was sincere. Climate skeptics have repeatedly given the game away, for example by touting new studies that they insisted would refute global warming, then rejecting those studies when they confirmed it. Economists who tout the limitless ability of markets to cope with change suddenly proclaim them utterly incapable of adapting to a carbon tax.
And now all that talk about free markets is revealed as the sham it always was.
Ten years ago the big debate was whether we should adopt a comprehensive strategy to limit greenhouse gas emissions. For a while it seemed possible that we’d adopt a cap-and-trade system that would in effect place a price on carbon. That effort failed . . . however, technology has been coming to our rescue. The single biggest source of greenhouse emissions, the thing we really need to stop, is coal-fired electricity generation (which has lots of other public health costs too.) And a funny thing happened: coal-fired power became uneconomical. Instead of building new plants, we’re retiring old ones.
Partly this was the result of cheap natural gas thanks to fracking. Increasingly, however, we’re looking at the effects of the technological revolution in renewables, which has produced spectacular declines in the cost of wind and solar power.
So is the Trump administration accepting this market verdict? Of course not: as with trade, it’s abusing powers granted to defend national security on behalf of destructive policies that have nothing to do with security. In this case, it’s planning to force clean energy to subsidize dirty energy.
Why? Probably the main reason is sheer corruption: coal moguls are key Trump backers, and he’s trying to reward them. But there’s also, I suspect, the sheer mean spiritedness that characterizes modern conservatism: “Liberals want clean energy? Hah! We’ll show them!”
[I]t’s yet another demonstration of the pervasive bad faith of the conservative movement. Nothing they said about their reasons for opposing climate policy were sincere, and now they’re perfectly willing to ditch all their supposed principles to keep the coal fires burning.

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