Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Clear explanation of the forces driving the collapse of the US

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Reality is disrupting the ideology of today’s Republican Party.

For a generation, Republicans have tried to unravel the activist government under which Americans have lived since the 1930s, when Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt created a government that regulated business, provided a basic social safety net, and invested in infrastructure. From the beginning, that government was enormously popular. Both Republicans and Democrats believed that the principle behind it—that the country worked best when government protected and defended ordinary Americans—was permanent.

But the ideologues who now control the Republican Party have always wanted to get rid of this New Deal state and go back to the world of the 1920s, when businessmen ran the government. They believe that government regulation and taxation is an assault on their liberty, because it restricts their ability to make money.

They have won office not by convincing Americans to give up their own government benefits—most Americans actually like clean water and Social Security and safe bridges—but by selling a narrative in which “Liberals” are trying to undermine the country by stealing the tax dollars of hardworking Americans—quietly understood to be white men—and redistributing them to lazy people who want handouts, not-so-quietly understood to be people of color and feminist women. According to this narrative, legislation that protects ordinary Americans simply redistributes wealth. It is “socialism,” or “communism.”

Meanwhile, Republican policies have actually redistributed wealth upward. When voters began to turn against those policies, Republicans upped the ante, saying that “Liberals” were simply buying Black votes with handouts, or, as Carly Fiorina said in a 2016 debate, planning to butcher babies and sell their body parts. To make sure Republicans stayed in power, they suppressed voting by people likely to vote Democratic, and gerrymandered states so that even if Democrats won a majority of votes, they would have a minority of representatives.

This system rewarded those who moved to the right, not to the middle. It gave them Donald Trump as a 2016 candidate, who talked of Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists and treated women not as equals but as objects either for sex or derision.

And, although as a candidate Trump talked about making taxes fairer, improving health care, and helping those struggling economically, in fact as president he has done more to bring about the destruction of the New Deal state than most of his predecessors. He has slashed regulations, given a huge tax cut to the wealthy, and gutted the government.

If the end of the New Deal state is going to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, it should be now.

Instead, the gutting of our government destroyed our carefully constructed pandemic response teams and plans, leaving America vulnerable to the coronavirus. Pressed to take the lead on combatting the virus, the administration refused to use federal power, and instead relied on “public-private partnerships” which meant states were largely on their own. When governors tried to take over, the Republican objection to government regulation, cultivated over a generation, had people refusing to wear masks or follow government instructions.

As the rest of the world watches in horror, we have suffered more than 4 million infections, and are approaching 150,000 deaths.

The pandemic also crashed the economy as businesses shut down to avoid infections. It threw more than 20 million Americans out of work. Republican ideology says the government has no business supporting ordinary Americans: they should work to survive, even if that means they have to take the risk of contracting Covid-19. Schools should open, businesses should get up and going, and the economy should rebuild. As Texas’s lieutenant governor Dan Patrick said to Fox News Channel personality Tucker Carlson in March, grandparents should be willing to contract coronavirus for the U.S. to “get back to work.”

The coronavirus has brought the Republican narrative up against reality. Just 32% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, and only 38% of the country think the economy is good. Americans believe that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

26 July 2020 at 10:26 pm

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