Saturday, July 01, 2017

Today's GOP: The Face of Cruelty

I have often noted that, in my opinion, the Republican Party began its transformation into something hideous when evangelical and fundamentalist Christians began to hijack the party base.  A party that had been moderate on social issues and seemingly had little interest in policing people's bedrooms while pushing for fiscal conservatism became something very different and extreme.  First came near hysteria over abortion even as any form of science based sex education that would have decreased unwanted pregnancies was opposed tooth and claw (many far right Christians still would like to make contraception illegal and see Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a right to privacy in sexual matters, reversed).   This was followed by anti-gay hysteria which continues to this day.  Now, we see open hatred towards Muslims and those of other faiths - and anyone or anything that challenges beliefs based on Bronze Age myths, hence the push for creationism in public education and denial of climate change.  Through it all, the Christofascists as I call them have harbored a thinly disguised racism against anyone who doesn't have white skin.   The cancer has fully metastasized in the GOP even as country club Republicans - and I know many - pretend that the GOP of the 1960's and early 1970's is alive and well.  That party is dead and gone.  Logic, reason, and objective fact no longer matter and this hatred of others permeates GOP policies: the poor are poor because they deserve to be poor; the sick are responsible for their illness because of bad "choices" or their sinfulness; gays deserve abuse and discrimination because they "choose" to be gay; racial minorities deserve no social safety net because they are lazy and less than fully human.  It's a hideous mindset (and anything but Christian), but it explains much about the Republican effort to destroy Obamacare and health care in general.  A column in the New York Times looks at this push for open cruelty.  Here are excerpts:
The basics of Republican health legislation, which haven’t changed much in different iterations of Trumpcare, are easy to describe: Take health insurance away from tens of millions, make it much worse and far more expensive for millions more, and use the money thus saved to cut taxes on the wealthy.
Donald Trump may not get this — reporting by The Times and others, combined with his own tweets, suggests that he has no idea what’s in his party’s legislation. But everyone in Congress understands what it’s all about.
The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.
Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.
Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.
More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.
So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is.
Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?
I won’t pretend to have a full answer, but I think there are two big drivers — actually, two big lies — behind Republican cruelty on health care and beyond.
First, the evils of the G.O.P. plan are the flip side of the virtues of Obamacare. Because Republicans spent almost the entire Obama administration railing against the imaginary horrors of the Affordable Care Act — death panels! — repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority. . . . . Republicans, through their political opportunism and dishonesty, boxed themselves into a position that makes them seem cruel and immoral — because they are.
Yet that’s surely not the whole story, because Obamacare isn’t the only social insurance program that does great good yet faces incessant right-wing attack. Food stamps, unemployment insurance, disability benefits all get the same treatment. Why?
As with Obamacare, this story began with a politically convenient lie — the pretense, going all the way back to Ronald Reagan, that social safety net programs just reward lazy people who don’t want to work. And we all know which people in particular were supposed to be on the take [blacks and non-whites].
Now, this was never true . . . . some of the biggest beneficiaries of these safety net programs are members of the Trump-supporting white working class. But the modern G.O.P. basically consists of career apparatchiks who live in an intellectual bubble . . . . Or to put it another way, Republicans start from a sort of baseline of cruelty toward the less fortunate, of hostility toward anything that protects families against catastrophe.
In this sense there’s nothing new about their health plan. What it does — punish the poor and working class, cut taxes on the rich — is what every major G.O.P. policy proposal does. The only difference is that this time it’s all out in the open. . . . . this is what modern Republicans do; this is who they are.
I truly do not understand how a decent, moral person can continue to be a Republican.  Are they so brainwashed by Fox News and so driven by their racism and hatred of others that they simply close their eyes to depriving children and the elderly - and many others - of life-sustaining health care?  I cannot comprehend the mindset - which perhaps is a good thing or else I'd still be a Republican. Coming out as gay and becoming part of a minority that faces daily hatred from "Christians" and others does open one's eyes as to what other minorities face even though the mistreatment and prejudice is different.  I wish more of my Republican "friends" could have the experience. Ultimately, we are all the same: we all bleed, we all have hopes and dreams, and we all have loved ones we seek to protect.  Why is it so impossible for some to see through skin color, sexual orientation or religious belief to our common humanity?

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