As I mentioned yesterday, conservatives often project their failings onto others. They promote a false narrative of liberals supporting the use of big government to control their lives. In reality, opposition to conservative support for greater government intrusion in the private lives of individuals is a common liberal position. We can expect lots of stories this time of year on the imaginary War on Christmas. All sorts of bizarre claims about the views of liberals can be found on conservative sites. One of the strangest headlines was posted today:Liberals want to stop men from checking out women.
Conservatives often project their failings onto other groups. Here is a classic example of conservative projection. The Republican Party has driven out not only its moderates, but it’s less extreme conservatives. Even Ronald Reagan would be too “liberal” these days, supporting tax increases and supporting increases in the debt limit without question. Barry Goldwater would be seen as a flaming liberal with his attacks on the religious right. In contrast, the Democratic Party ranges from conservatives to liberals (most generally barely left of center by international standards). Michael Goodwin claims at the far-right New York Post that it is the Democratic Party which has driven out its moderates.
The Republican Party and the conservative movement operate in a Bizzaro World where whatever they say is frequently the opposite of fact. Republicans claim to be the party of individual liberty and small government while promoting a government which is more intrusive in the private lives of individuals and the party which is far more responsible for increasing the deficit. They regularly deny the racism which is a major component of their views and the manner in which they promote create fear of minorities with their arguments against a social safety net. This conservative lack of awareness is fully on display in John Hawkin’s arguments on Why Liberalism Is On The Wrong Side Of History.
Hawkins began with the usual erroneous claim that liberals, who have historically been the party of defending liberty, stand for the opposite:
Liberals dream of one day seeing all Americans permanently locked in the smothering, cradle-to-grave death grip of the nanny state. Nothing excites a liberal more than the idea of controlling where you go to school, regulating your work and play, deciding what type of health care you’re going to have and then deciding when you get to retire and how much money you have when you do. Even if you want to choose, you can’t. Even if you want to break free, you’re stuck. You’re not allowed to make different choices because liberals have made it illegal.
Such projection of conservative views is seen throughout the article which distorts liberal beliefs while ignoring the fact that it is the conservatives who have been promoting restrictions on reproductive rights and using the power of the state to tell people who they may or may not marry. It is Republicans who seek to use the power of government to impose their religious views on everyone. Melissa McEwan has discussed this further.
Conservative views on liberty become more understandable when we understand that to conservatives, freedom frequently means the freedom to impose their religious views upon others, the freedom to avoid contributing to the social safety net, and the freedom from even necessary government economic regulations.
Lacking reality-based arguments, Hawkins resorted to an imaginary mischaracterization of liberal views:
The problem with that is not so much liberals living how they want to live; it’s that liberals want to force everyone else to live how they want to live. They don’t like guns; so no one should have guns. They like gay marriage; so everyone must be forced to like gay marriage. They like PBS; so everyone should be forced to pay for PBS…
If Justin Bieber is at the top of the pop charts, should EVERYONE be forced to listen to Justin Bieber? If Duck Dynasty is popular, should EVERYONE be forced to watch Duck Dynasty? If the two most popular foods in America turn out to be hotdogs and chocolate ice cream, should EVERYONE have to eat those two foods at every meal? We laugh at this sort of thinking in the marketplace, but that’s exactly the philosophy liberals have with government.
In reality, liberals believe in a system which results in a wide variety of views. Unlike many conservative, liberals encourage and support a wide variety individual choice–not only in popular culture but in life styles.
Considering recent headlines, it is not surprising that Hawkins distorts the Affordable Care Act with no recognition that the individual mandate was an option of a position long-promoted by conservatives, and that Obamacare provides people with more choices in health care. While liberalism has promoted a market economy, liberals recognize that there are areas where the market fails, such as in the financing of health care. The Affordable Care Act is giving choices to people who were denied health care coverage due to having medical problems–a fundamental failing of the old system. Supporting a solution using government in such situations is far different from conservative use of government to try to ban abortions, impose vaginal probes on women, restrict access to contraception, ban same-sex marriage, and prevent the use of marijuana, even for medical needs.
The historical trend has been towards liberalism. Some liberal gains of the past when government did impose restrictions, such as prohibiting child labor, are now widely accepted. Social Security and Medicare are considered essential portions of the social safety net by most people. We have reached a tipping point in which same-sex marriage is rapidly being accepted, and ending marijuana prohibition will probably follow soon after. Conservatives are on the wrong side of history–and their problem is only exacerbated when they show how they are out of touch with reality when they claim to be the party which supports liberty.
“What are we going to negotiate about? I would say ‘Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ …You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘OK let it go.’ And so there’s an atomic weapon, goes over ballistic missiles, the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever. Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’–Sheldon Adelson, a major financial backer of Mitt Romney
The Republican Party bases much of its appeal on racism and fear, scaring middle class white voters into voting against their true economic interests. They scare people into voting Republican out of fear that poor minorities will take their money, with greatly exaggerated views of the cost of programs such as welfare and foreign aide. At the same time, they have no concept of the real redistribution of wealth underway in this country–Republicans transferring wealth to the top one-tenth of one-percent at the expense of the middle class. While racism permeates the Republican Party and Tea Party movement, they tend to be in total denial of their own racism. Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, posts that American Needs A White Republican President.
It is hard to deny that a headline such as this is not racist, but Joe the Plumber follows with: “Wanting a white Republican president doesn’t make you racist, it just makes you American.”
The true racists according to Joe appear to be Mexicans, liberal blacks, and white Democratic presidents. He wrote that, “Many deranged Mexicans believe we should open the country up to them, some saying that much of America belongs to Mexico anyway.” As for blacks and white Democratic presidents:
Liberal blacks have disagreed with most Republican presidents since Eisenhower, yet these blacks are not considered racists. In fact, when blacks had sanity and disagreed with the policies of racist white Democrat presidents, nobody accused black people of being racists.
Joe believes that blacks should vote Democratic because, he claims, “Reagan ushered in a veritable Renaissance for blacks.” His source? Fox News. Remember what David Frumm said about the effect of Fox creating an artificial reality for Republicans just a few days ago?
Joe also cited current economic data as reason why Obama has been bad for blacks. I haven’t checked on his actual statistics, which I would be skeptical about, but the key factor which Joe ignores is the economic crash caused by Republican economic policies under Bush and the fierce battle waged by Congressional Republicans to hinder economic recovery, especially for the poor and middle class. It would take someone from the Fox artificial reality to really believe that blacks would not be even worse off now if John McCain or Mitt Romney were deciding economic policy instead of Barack Obama.
David Frum has often questioned Republican behavior since leaving the Bush White House. I imagine that is due to a combination of factors including the Republicans moving much further towards the extreme right, and as those not working for someone in office have more freedom to tell the truth. His list of Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties provides some useful insight into how the saner Republicans think. In some cases he is wrong, such as in not believing we can afford to do what the rest of the world with modern economies can in providing affordable health care for all. At least he concedes that Obamacare is not the calamity they claim:
If the United States has remained a constitutional republic despite a government guarantee of health care for people over 65, it will remain a constitutional republic with a government guarantee of health care for people under 65. Obamacare will cost money the country doesn’t have, and that poses a serious fiscal problem. But it’s not as serious a fiscal problem as is posed by the existing programs, Medicare and Medicaid, which cover the people it costs most to cover. It’s not a problem so serious as to justify panic.
Yet panic has gripped the Republican rank-and-file since 2009—and instead of allaying panic, Republican leaders have aggravated and exploited it, to the point where the leaders are compelled to behave in ways they know to be irrational. In his speech to the “Bull Moose” convention of 1912, Teddy Roosevelt declared, “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord!” It’s a great line, but it’s not a mindset that leads to successful legislative outcomes.
He gave arguments other than racism for Republican hatred of Obama:
Barack Obama was never likely to be popular with the Republican base. It’s not just that he’s black. He’s the first president in 76 years with a foreign parent—and unlike Hulda Hoover, Barack Obama Sr. never even naturalized. While Obama is not the first president to hold two degrees from elite universities—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did as well—his Ivy predecessors at least disguised their education with a down-home style of speech. Join this cultural inheritance to liberal politics, and of course you have a formula for conflict. But effective parties make conflict work for them. Hate leads to rage, and rage makes you stupid. Republicans have convinced themselves both that President Obama is a revolutionary radical hell-bent upon destroying America as we know it and that he’s so feckless and weak-willed that he’ll always yield to pressure. It’s that contradictory, angry assessment that has brought the GOP to a place where it must either abjectly surrender or force a national default. Calmer analysis would have achieved better results.
True, the know-nothings of the far right would oppose any educated president who acts like they are educated. They just can’t stand things like facts as they show that right wing policies make no sense. The right wing base also hates America for our freedoms, desiring to replace our liberal heritage with religious their religious beliefs. There are reasons besides being black that Republicans dislike Obama. This does change the fact that racism is endemic in the conservative movement and being black did lead to immediate and unreasonable opposition to Obama. If conservatives were willing to look at Obama’s actual beliefs, they might never agree with him on some social issues, but they would see that he is relatively conservative on many economic issues and is willing to compromise on quite a bit. Of course Obama may hold the view of an Eisenhower Republican on many issues, but to the far right Eisenhower was suspected of being a Communist.
The other most important confession from Frum is on the role of the right wing noise machine:
The actor Hugh Grant once bitterly characterized his PR team as “the people I pay to lie to me.” Politicians do not always need to tell the truth, but they always need to hear it. Yet hearing the truth has become harder and harder for Republicans. It takes a very unusual spin artist to remember that what he or she is saying isn’t actually true. Non-politicians say what they believe. Politicians sooner or later arrive at the point where they believe what they say. They have become prisoners of their own artificial reality, with no easy access to the larger truths outside. This entombment in their own artificial reality was revealed to the entire TV-watching world in Karl Rove’s Fox News election night outburst against the Ohio 2012 ballot results. It was the same entombment that blinded Republicans to the most likely outcome of their no-compromise stance on Obamacare—and now again today to the most likely outcome of the government shutdown/debt ceiling fight they started.
The false narrative created by the far right is a dangerous threat to democracy due to the need for an informed electorate. It becomes even more dangerous when conservative politicians believe their own lies.
In November 2010, days after the Republicans recaptured the majority in the House of Representatives, 32% of Americans pledged support for the Tea Party, or 10 percentage points higher than in the latest survey, conducted Sept. 5-8.
Opponents of the Tea Party now outnumber supporters 27% to 22%, which is similar to their edge in 2012. However this differs from most of Gallup’s earlier measurements, in 2010 and 2011, when supporters and opponents were either equally matched, or Tea Party backers had the slight edge.
Fully half of Americans, 51%, currently say they are neither a supporter nor an opponent of the Tea Party, or they have no opinion about it.
Strong Tea Party Opponents Outnumber Strong Supporters
In addition to their overall advantage in numbers, opponents of the Tea Party also lead supporters in intensity. The majority of Tea Party opponents call themselves strong opponents, while supporters are evenly divided as strong and not strong supporters. The net result is that 17% of Americans consider themselves strong opponents of the Tea Party, contrasted with 11% who are strong supporters, similar to the balance seen in 2011.
Yes, it is good that the number of supporters is on a downward trend. It is still scary that over one-fifth of the country supports a group which opposes the basic tenets of self-government which this country was founded on with their hysterical hatred of government (especially when there is a black president) and unquestioning support for plutocrats like the Koch brothers. Americans should know better, and far fewer should support the Tea Party insanity. Having half the country not taking a position isn’t reassuring either.
As I pointed out again yesterday, conservatives are trying to create opposition to the Affordable Care Act with a massive misinformation campaign. An example can be seen in the above ad from Generation Opportunity:
Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group that is part of a coalition of right-leaning organizations with financial ties to billionaire businessmen and political activists Charles and David Koch, will launch a six-figure campaign aimed at convincing young people to “opt-out” of the Obamacare exchanges. Later this month, the group will begin a tour of 20 college campuses, where they plan to set up shop alongside pro-Obamacare activists such as Enroll America that are working to sign people up for the insurance exchanges.
Generation Opportunity intends to host events at college football tailgate parties festivals, where “brand ambassadors” (read: hot young people) will pass out beer koozies that read “opt out,” pizza and literature about the health care law. Some events may have impromptu dance parties with DJ’s, complete with games of cornhole and competitions for prizes, organizers said.
The ad shows Uncle Sam playing doctor, trying to do a pap smear on a young girl. A similar ad was made of a Creepy Uncle Sam trying to do a prostate exam on a young man.
Beyond the fact that prostate exams are not typically done on the age group these ads are aimed at, these ads spread misinformation and provide terrible advice as they try to get y0ung people to refuse to purchase health insurance. Under Obamacare, most college age students actually do not even need to purchase health insurance because insurance plans are required to cover dependent students until age 26. Despite the advice in this ad, those who are not otherwise covered are certainly better off purchasing insurance through the exchange where insurance coverage is generally more comprehensive and less expensive than it has been in the past.
Under any situation, going without health insurance is risky. In the past many people had no choice. It would make no sense for people to refuse to take a good deal under Obamacare as opposed to risking bankruptcy should they develop an expensive medical problem while uninsured. Believe me, if you get sick, the Kochs might be happy you helped them make an extremist political point, but they will not pay your health care bills.
The insinuation that a Creepy Uncle Sam or the government will be running their health care is also false. The Affordable Care Act allows people to obtain private health insurance. They will be seen by the same doctors as everyone else. If they currently have a doctor, there is no way to absolutely guarantee that their doctor will accept every plan, as is the case today, but the chances of keeping their current doctor are greater with the Affordable Care Act than in the past, as I explained last month.
The facts in this ad are so demonstrably false, and the logic so incoherent, if college students are dumb enough to fall for this ad, we have bigger problems in this country than lying wing-nuts.
The White House Blog has introduced Sunny, the Obamas’ new puppy. The Daily Caller also reports that the Obamas got a new puppy but gives a detail you won’t find in the mainstream media (emphasis mine): “With the addition of Sunny, the Obamas now have two black Portuguese water dogs. The Obamas do not have any white dogs.”
The right wing noise machine is a massive con outfit. They spread false facts in order to get massive numbers of Americans to vote against their interests, and the interest of the nation. They don’t stop at using their influence on gullible viewers, listeners, and readers to influence views on public policy. Anyone who is on any conservative mailing lists knows how often they also use the trust they have obtained from their followers to profit financially. Obviously this includes sales of politically-related books and paraphernalia, but also includes numerous get rich schemes. See Media Matters and this post by Steve Benen for one example.