Saturday, October 27, 2018

Seeing Through Republican Deceptions

One of the most disturbing aspects of politics over most of the last two decades is the manner in which working class whites have voted against their own economic interest and supported the Republican Party which offers them noting other than pandering to their prejudices and bigotry.  In short, these voters are played for fools as the GOP pushes policies and tax cuts that favor the wealthy and allow big corporations to cut corners on safety regulations.  With the 2018 midterms upon us, we are seeing past GOP deceptions taken to a whole new level of dishonesty and open racism.  The days of dog whistle messaging are gone and open white supremacists and Christian extremists (the two tend to overlap significantly, in my view) are embraced.  A column in the New York Times by a Nobel Prize winning economist looks at this latest round of GOP lies and deceit.  Here are column excerpts:
Until recently, it looked as if the midterm elections might be defined largely by an argument about health care. Over the past few days, however, the headlines have been dominated instead by hatred — hysteria over a caravan of migrants a thousand miles from the U.S. border, and now the attempted assassination of multiple prominent Democrats.
But whoever sent the bombs and why, the caravan hysteria is no accident: creating a climate of hatred is how Republicans avoid talking about health care. What we’re seeing in this election is a kind of culmination of the strategy the right has been using for decades: distract working-class voters from policies that hurt them by promoting culture war and, above all, racial antagonism.
When it comes to substance, the modern conservative policy agenda, which centers on cutting taxes and tearing up the social safety net, is consistently unpopular. By large margins, voters want to raise, not lower, taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They overwhelmingly oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
So how do Republicans manage to win elections? Partly the answer is that gerrymandering, the Electoral College and other factors have rigged the system in their favor; Republicans have held the White House after three of the past six presidential elections, despite winning the popular vote only once. And they will probably hold the House unless Democrats win by at least 6 percent.One way they have traditionally gotten there is with red-baiting, portraying any and all progressive policies as the next thing to Communism. More than half a century ago, Ronald Reagan warned that Medicare would destroy American freedom. (It didn’t.) A few days ago, the Trump White House issued a report equating Medicare for All with Maoism.
Another key tactic involves lying about both their own positions and those of their opponents. During the administration of George W. Bush, the lies were relatively subtle by current standards, involving things like pretending that tax cuts favoring the rich were actually aimed at the middle class. These days, the lies are utterly shameless.
But lies about policy, while they may confuse some voters, aren’t enough. Hate has always been part of the package.  Let’s not romanticize the past. When Reagan talked about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, or a “strapping young buck” using food stamps to buy steaks, he knew exactly what he was doing.
Under Trump, however, the strategy of hatred has gone to a whole new level.  For one thing, after decades of cloaking its strategy in euphemisms, the G.O.P. is back to letting racists be racists.
At the same time, the mainstream G.O.P. has gone all in on the kind of conspiracy theorizing — tinged with anti-Semitism — that used to be restricted to the fringe.  And it’s hard to see calling the news media “enemies of the people” as anything other than an incitement to violence.
So will this ramped-up strategy of hate work? It might, in part because those same news media still dance to the haters’ tune. Take the story of the migrant caravan. The right’s hysteria is obviously insincere; it’s clear that it is hyping the story to take attention away from health care and other substantive issues: Never mind pre-existing conditions! Look at those scary brown people!
[I]f this strategy of hate works in the midterms, the right will pursue it even more avidly. Don’t expect anyone involved to experience any pangs of conscience. Indeed, after CNN and several prominent critics received bombs in the mail, Trump blamed … the media.
I have seen the future, and it’s full of menace.

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