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This Is Conservatism

September 29th, 2013
Even in 2009, it was pretty evident. A foreign leader asked Obama:

“We don’t understand it. You’re trying to make sure everybody has health care and they’re putting a Hitler mustache on you — I don’t — that doesn’t make sense to me. Explain that to me.”

Conservatives are doing things which would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Some things which we even take for granted now. Think about the following facts in the context of what would have passed muster a few generations ago—or even more alarmingly, in the context of sound reason.

Conservatives run a propaganda channel on TV which they shamelessly pretend is a “news network.”

Conservatives openly mock facts, deny science, and fervently stand behind statements which are easily proven false.

Conservatives are openly suppressing liberal voters under the laughable pretense of openly discredited “voter fraud.”

Conservatives work almost exclusively now via obstructionism, essentially stopping all meaningful legislation.

Conservatives oppose any and all legislation favored by the opposition regardless of what it is, even if it was what conservatives themselves were promoting until very recently.

Conservatives have utterly rejected the core principle of American politics—compromise—and now genuinely threaten to destroy the American economy if they do not get their extremist agenda passed. For conservatives, “negotiation” means nothing more than “give us everything we want and you get nothing.”

Conservatives are opposed to virtually any policy that would help their supposed constituents, the people: health care, retirement benefits, a living wage, solid public education, college education, union protection, infrastructure, corporate and government regulation, clean air, clean water, clean and/or cheap energy, environmental protection, reproductive choice, progressive taxes, network neutrality, unemployment insurance, food stamps, responsible gun control, the ability to sue if wronged… the list goes on and on and on. Anything that would help the people of the country, anything that would help the economy at large, conservatives oppose.

What do conservatives fight for? Lower taxes, mostly for wealthy people. Oil and coal. Military spending. Land wars in the Middle East. Privatization.

And yet, tens of millions of Americans who are most hurt by what Republicans are doing vote them back into office time and again.

Could the lack of a well-informed electorate somehow be involved?

Together, of course, with the excruciating inability of Democrats to effectively counter all of that or to even provide a marginally attractive alternative choice. As I put it in 2010, if Republicans had to advertise truthfully, their campaign slogan would be this:

We’re Crazy and Destructive, but the Other Guys Are Ineffective at Stopping Us!

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  1. Troy
    September 29th, 2013 at 15:49 | #1

    And yet, tens of millions of Americans who are most hurt by what Republicans are doing vote them back into office time and again.

    Key thing is . . . why?

    Social issues — anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-gun control; anti-nanny state, anti-redistribution, anti-immigrant.

    People get more conservative as they get older.

    The 2012 election — which gave people a reasonably clear choice — is interesting.


    60% of people age 19-29 supported Obama, but this fell to 44% of people 65+.

    40% of white people voted for Obama, 35% of white men — 1 in 3.

    Self-described “conservatives” are 35% of the electorate, and they voted 17% for Obama.

    People making more than $100k voted for Obama at 44%.

    People who attend church at least weekly voted were at ~40%, and white protestants in this category were at 30%.

    Born-again Christians (26% of the electorate)– 21%.

    Anti-abortion (36% of the electorate) — ~20%

    Anti-tax (63%) — 37%

    Anti-immigrant (28%) — 24%

    Anti-government (51%) — 24%

    Anti-gay (46%) — 25%

    So the anti-abortion slice of America is a pretty big bloc to work with, providing the Republicans with 28.8% of the vote (38% x 80%) right there. Anti-gay was 34.5%, but that has to be more fragile than anti-abortion grouping, given young people are a lot less anti-gay than old people.

    Combined with the anti-tax brigade (63% x 63% = 40%) it’s only the large overlap between these two groups that is keeping them out of power.

    Thing is, taxes are VERY low in this country, and need to be raised quite a lot if we can’t cut spending.

    And we really can’t cut spending all that much, since the big parts of the outgoes are medicare, social security, and the DOD.

    Anti-tax sentiment is the biggie here, and why the conservative playbook is what it is.

    The big lesson of 1994 was never, ever raise taxes on the middle class.

    Even if Republicans recognize we need to raise taxes, they will be primaried out by a radical base that does not want taxes raised on anyone.

  2. Troy
    October 1st, 2013 at 00:29 | #2

    Here’s Jon, one of those white conservatives I assume, from 5 years ago on the McCain post:

    “What I really don’t understand is the apparent refusal on the part of the Left to even acknowledge the attempts made by the Republicans to head this off. It may be that what the right was proposing was a bad idea, or would not have worked, but this apparent pretense that they never even tried just strikes me as dishonest.”

    Earlier in his comment he blamed Clinton and CRA for the housing bubble.

    These people are just out in some other reality and there’s no reaching them.


    is real per-capita (age 25-54) mortgage debt.

    Republican policy was the opposite of “heading off” crises. It’s their stupid policies — cut taxes, financial deregulation, increase spending, launch *two* trillion-dollar (!) wars, ignore the trade deficit (strong dollar!) refuse to reform anything other than privatizing and deregulating it that got us where we are now.

    It comes down to the fact that about half this country are complete and utter morons, utterly detached from reality.

    I strongly suspect the 1995-2006 period irretrievably fucked the USA up, much like the 1985-1992 period screwed up Japan. Only worse, since our mistakes were larger, in so many areas, and the US actually has a much more serious social support burden we’ve got to start carrying as our massive baby boom enters retirement.

  3. Troy
    October 2nd, 2013 at 02:02 | #3

    btw, the simple answer to the conservative backlash against PPACA is that it’s the camel’s nose in the tent towards their major fear, full socialized medicine on the Canadian model, with the rich largely paying for the poor’s care.

    We have a lot of poor people in this country, and medical care is expensive!

    And also the current law hit them with a tax hike, 3.8% on investment income over $250,000. This is their main motivator for “repeal and replace”.

    But what they get their Tea Party thugs out in the streets for is not that, but lies about “ObamaCare”.

  4. Troy
    October 5th, 2013 at 12:20 | #4

    Back in late ’95 I didn’t even have internet at home — still running my IIcx that came with me on the plane in ’92 — and I wasn’t working at the company that may not be named anymore, so didn’t “have” to read news weeklies, either, so Gingrich’s shutdown could have been happening out in space as far as I knew or was concerned.

    This time, I’m intimately involved since being in my 40s, PPACA is a very big deal for me.

    Without it, I’m outta here posthaste.

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