Sunday, June 11, 2017

GOP Hypocrisy 102: Red Meat For The Right


A few months back I wrote a little article, complete with misspellings borne of poor proofreading (my bad), in which I lamented the fact of Republican hypocrisy. The hypocrisy hasn't changed, but I have. I can honestly say:

It doesn't matter.

Not that it isn't important to acknowledge it. It is, and in the most urgent fashion. The reason it doesn't matter is that no Republican will ever acknowledge its existence or do anything to change it. Why should they? It worked wonders in the 2016 election.

For example, in February of 2016 Mitch McConnell (probably the most bitterly partisan member of Congress, and the person who can be counted on to put party ahead of country. Every. Single. Time.) made an announcement within nanoseconds of the death of Antonin Sclaia, saying that the Senate would not be holding any hearings on Obama's Supreme Court nominee because, as he piously put it, “[t]he American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Compare this to his statement on the identical topic from January 4, 2017: “Apparently there’s yet a new standard now, which is to not confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. [...] I think this is something the American people simply will not tolerate [...] Our hope would be that our Democratic friends would treat President Trump’s nominees in the same way we treated Clinton and Obama.”

(If you mean "obstruct and investigate endlessly" like you guys did for eight years, then that is precisely what is happening, you turkey-necked shitgibbon. But I digress.)

In the interest of full disclosure, I loathe Mitch McConnell with every fiber of my being, and I am firmly convinced he was involved with, if not the mastermind of, Russian interference in the 2016 election, and if he was dragged kicking and screaming across a field of broken glass and into the Potomac River to be sexually assaulted by radioactive turtles I would not have the slightest problem with it. Moving right along ...

There are plenty of examples of such blatant, egregious hypocrisy, but it is pointless to further expose them. Why? Because the Republicans, quite frankly, don't give a flying fuck about consistency of logic, or principles, or appearing to be hypocrites ... at least, not to their base and their donors. The reason for this is that people in Washington -- not limited to the GOP, they're just the best at it -- are able to perform mental gymnastics on any issue that would make Gabby Douglas's jaw drop.

As with anybody in this position, they are highly resistant -- some would say oblivious -- to the inherent contradictory nature of their positions. They are able to pull out all the stops to justify it, from citing obscure regulations from the early days of the country to just making shit up.

And this is why it doesn't matter.

One could spend hours arguing with a Republican why blocking a Supreme Court thing was acceptable in 2016 but not in 2017, or why taking health care away from people in favor of a huge tax cut for the rich is a good idea, or why "Just give him a chance" was an acceptable sentiment in 2017 but not in 2009. You could go for days on Republican statements that we should cut trump some slack because "he's new at this" while simultaneously lambasting President Obama over his inexperience in 2008. It is all futile, because they aren't interested in hearing it.

And this gets to the crux of the problem. It's not hypocrisy per se, it's that the Republican Party has been waging a war on facts for some time now (decades, actually) ... and they have been winning. After all, this is the party that denies climate change is even happening while Superstorm Sandy ravages the mid-Atlantic coast, or denies that trump ever mocked a reporter when there is a video record of it, or that he called Mexicans rapists (which Mike Pence denied during the vice-presidential debate, saying with a straight face "he never said that") even though it was broadcast around the world when he announced in 2015. These are people who were screaming for blood when Obama said, in 2008, that Pennsylvanians cling to their guns and their religion, but dismissed a tape of trump bragging about sexually assaulting someone as "locker room talk."

See, facts don't matter to these people. You can argue until you're blue in the face about climate change, they just don't care. Consider that every climate scientist on the planet who doesn't work for a fossil fuel company, or doesn't have a study funded by one of these interests, agrees not only that it's happening but on the specific details of what's going on ... because it goes against conservative ideology, it's dismissed entirely.

Look at Hillary Clinton's email server. Was it ill-advised for her to use her own email server for official business? Very probably. Was there criminal wrongdoing? No. This was proven in the first investigation, which Republicans viewed as proof that she was a criminal mastermind who was up to something and just really good at hiding it, so therefore it was incumbent upon them to hold another investigation ... with all the fundraising from their base this entailed.

This is the way "Republican logic" works. They reach a conclusion, then work backward from there. The conclusion here is that Hillary Clinton is a criminal, and the investigations were nothing more than a way to attempt to legitimize this belief. Pointing out that no evidence of wrongdoing was ever found -- several times -- has no effect, because that conflicts with the established narrative in the GOP.

(Side note: one thing I found interesting of late was the Republican assertion that investigating the Russian connection was a witch hunt, and that there should be no investigation unless there was real wrongdoing ... ignoring completely the fact that investigations are, by their nature, intended to determine if there was wrongdoing or not.)

And this is where liberals fall down on the job. They assume they are dealing with rational, thinking people. They aren't. These aren't people for whom objective data mean a damn thing. These are people whose only use for objective data is to support their already cemented belief system, and if the data contradict this belief system ... well, the data must be wrong, or biased, or something.

The problem isn't that liberals are trying to make a valid point. It's that, even when they do, nobody wants to hear it. Part of this is that many liberals -- myself included -- can be a little sanctimonious and condescending when making a point, which immediately turns people off. However, the biggest obstacle is that conservatives aren't interested in facts ... they're interested in winning elections. And they've gotten pretty good at it, too.

We are not going to win over conservatives with facts. Facts don't get them excited. Facts very rarely get anyone excited. What we need is to reach them at a visceral level. We need to make an emotional connection with conservative voters, the kind of connection trump made with them in 2016 (albeit without the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic rhetoric). We need to get back to actually communicating -- not talking at them, but listening to them, listening to what is really bothering them, sussing out their hopes and fears, then making the case for how we are going to help them realize these hopes and minimize these fears.

Hillary Clinton missed -- or passed up, or ignored -- a golden opportunity last year when trump started crowing about bringing coal jobs back. Rather than making a glib comment about how there wouldn't be any more coal jobs, she should have taken some time to listen to the people for whom those jobs are important. She should have sympathized with them, made them feel like she was in their corner -- then she could launch into a discussion about how those coal jobs, with their harsh working conditions and high risk of lung disease, would be replaced with jobs in the new energy sector. Jobs that paid comparably to the coal mining jobs of old, but did not have the attendant health risks. Jobs that would move the country forward, not backward. Jobs that were sustainable in the long term.

She failed to do this, and it cost her. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party doesn't seem to have learned from her mistakes. They are cruising along as they always have, courting big-money donors and trying to tack toward the center. The GOP keeps pushing the country further to the right, and the Dems chase after them, trying to find middle ground that just isn't there.

Until the Democrats realize this, until they start reaching people where they live, until they get down in the mud and fight the GOP where they live, they will continue to lose, and lose big, and the Republicans will continue to run roughshod over the middle class and will succeed in their goal of turning the United States of America into an oligarchy, bringing back the robber barons of the Gilded Age ... aka "Make America Great Again" (oh, for a font that clearly displays sarcasm ...).

The time for centrists is over. If the GOP is going to lunge to the right, we need to drag them to the left. This is the only way of reaching the true political center.

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