I have been meaning to write a post about the twin towers of right wing lunacy in this country for some time now. Not, by the way, that these are the only rotten foundations on which Republican electoral success is built; am not, for example, going to mention racism very much below. What I want to suggest, however, is that these are the two enablers of the Republican impetus to breed an ignorant, hate filled, out of control base that votes on the basis of evil passions, not reasoning or even self interest.
What pushed me over the line to write this post was Paul Krugman's column this week. Here is an excerpt:
"The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism...
A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.”
And this is a point I have made before, but until now I have never heard a single other person state it straight out: "Supply side economics," the Austrian school, call it what you will, is not an economic theory nor an ideology. It is in fact nothing but a malignant fairy tale designed to justify taking wealth away from ordinary people and giving it to the rich. Its entire underpinnings are so ludicrous that no one in control of his or her mental faculties could buy into it for one second. The Republican answer to this problem was, of course, not to abandon this hateful theory, but to create a base that was so impervious to what was right in front of their eyes that they would buy into it; and this they have done, with spectacular success.
So, Krugman was right, but only half right; as an economist he has restricted himself to a subject in which he can speak with authority. But this was not sufficient to tip the country into its current disastrous madness, and not having any reputation to protect, I am not under any pressure to ignore it. The other vital factor in the Republican descent into madness was the devil's bargain it made with Evangelical Christianity.
Republicans, so used to manipulating the ignorant and the hate-filled, thougth they could enlist Evangelicals, mindless and ignorant as most of them are, to join the zombie army that was working to destroy itself to further enrich the already rich. Unfortunately, Republican leaders ignored the fact that Evangelicals came with some weighty baggage, which has mortally infected the right. Chief among these is the Evangelical notion of salvation by faith, the idea that nothing we do on this earth except to believe what they tell us to believe, has anything to do with getting into heaven. The logical outcome of this belief is that it is perfectly acceptable to tell any sort of lie to people to get them to believe, because balanced against eternal life, nothing that happens to them in this life means a thing.
Well, the notion that it is okay to tell any kind of lie to get what you want was hardly likely to remain restricted to situations involving eternal salvation. It has now spread until it has infected the entire right in this country. It has reached the point where all of them have repudiated any concern for the truth, in favor of whatever will get them what they want at the moment: denying global warming, denying the continuing malign effects of racism; denying the truth about their own religion and those of other people; denying that poor people are largely poor through no fault of their own; and in the end, denying that the Civil War was about slavery, denying every single thing their savior preached about, in favor of a self-serving mumbo-jumbo of nationalism and jingoistic hatred.
It is these two things that have led the Republicans, and unfortunately the rest of us, to be where we are today. Neither on its own would have been sufficient to pull down the edifice of American democracy on its own, but together they have brought us to the edge of destruction. Pandering to the rich, and to the ignorant, hateful people in the South and Midwest, Republicans have manged to wreck the fine clockwork that kept our country from the worst fate that has overtaken other great nations.
Republicans have built a base as absolutely divorced from truth as the most incurable schizophrenic; a base which I fear has descended so far into its fantasy world that there is no hope for this country until they die off, and then only if we can prevent them from spreading their mental disease on to future generations. In the meantime, the caldera of hatred they have generated could easily overcome us all.