Friday, February 20, 2015

Conservative or schizophrenic? It’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish the two

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder often characterized by abnormal social behavior and a failure to recognize what is real. Sound like anyone you know?

Writing about one of his favorite subjects — how horribly wrong Republicans have been on economic issues — my favorite economist Paul Krugman says, “Across the board, the modern American right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there, even if it’s not what your prejudices say should be happening. What are you going to believe, right-wing doctrine or your own lying eyes? These days, the doctrine wins.”

He’s absolutely right. The denial of objective reality on the part of conservatives runs across the board and isn’t limited to economics. From global warming to foreign affairs to education and science, today’s Right Wingers are trying desperately to create their own reality, but are, like poor Charlie Brown getting eternally duped by Lucy and her football, continuously running headlong into objective reality.

It reminds me of the now infamous quote in 2004 from an aide to George Bush (later attributed to Karl Rove) that dealt with reality:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

We create our own reality? The hubris reflected in this statement is nearly unfathomable, but I think it is reflective of how many conservatives think. It has been shown over and over again, and is now on full display in Brownback’s Kansas, that supply side economics doesn’t work, yet we just learned recently that Ohio Governor John Kasich’s newest budget is all about slashing tax rates and trying to make up the deficit by raising the state’s sales tax, the commercial activity tax, oil and gas severance taxes and the tobacco tax, increases that disproportionately affect low income individuals and families. Kasich is trying once again to create his own reality, placing political doctrine over common sense.

George Bush governed from his gut, and we all know how well that turned out. To win the support of the Tea Party base, the 2016 Republican presidential candidate will be someone who questions evolution, denies man-made global warming, considers the goal of education to be job training, and believes supply-side economics is a viable approach. In other words, it will be a person who doesn’t live in the same world in which the majority of Americans live, yet could still become President.

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