Stupid Americans elect stupid politicians. Government-hating Americans elect government-hating politicians. Mean-spirited citizens elect mean-spirited politicians.
Like-minded Tea Party Republican conservatives end up living together, feeding their mutual anger and resentment about most social progress. This reinforces and intensifies narrow-minded beliefs. House districts are gerrymandered by Republican legislatures to consist nearly entirely of such communities. This creates safe elections for the most radical, extreme and in almost all cases downright inarticulate and stupid Tea Party politicians. Shut down the federal government, harm many millions of Americans, refuse to raise the debt limit and throw the US economy into the toilet. All are just fine with this class of citizens and their favored politicians. This is the Stupid Revolution that accelerates the destruction of American democracy.
Far right complaints about an expansive, high spending federal government, especially for social programs, are just one of many signs of utter stupidity. Why? Because these people fail to understand that economic inequality driven by Republican-loved policies that preferentially reward the richest Americans also harm an increasing number of ordinary citizens. An unjust economic system greatly increases the need for federal programs to assist the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the ill, the jobless and so many others struggling with economic insecurity, both middle class and working poor people.
Who are these radical Tea Party aligned republicans? The Bloomberg National Poll of adults 18 and over showed that 40 percent of Tea Party supporters are 55 or older, compared with 32 percent of all poll respondents; 79 percent are white, 61 percent are men and 44 percent identify as “born-again Christians”, compared with 75 percent, 48.5 percent, and 34 percent, respectively, for the general population. According to a NYT/CBS News poll Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security—the biggest domestic programs—suggesting instead a focus on “waste.” Moreover, a majority of Tea Party people described their own financial situation as “good” or “very good.” In Congress, only Republicans are tightly connected to the Tea Party movement and goals.
Importantly, the great irony is that these Tea Party smaller-government zealots include many, many people, especially older ones, benefitting from federal programs, including veterans, Social Security, Medicare, small business loans, and farm support. What they resent are federal programs helping “other” Americans. They are hypocrites using national debt and smaller government as a cover for biases against several classes of Americans that they do not relate to, such as non-whites, the poor, the needy and new immigrants. They see Obamacare as some form of awful welfare, while so many of them enjoy Medicare. Outside their bubble is socialism on the march, not the capitalism that nourished them.
Conservative radicals are selfish, they are filled with fear about losing what they cherish and quite willing to sacrifice and throw overboard a large fraction of Americans whom they see as losers, wasters and cheaters. Screw them. The country, their country, would be so much better without them. These radicals are the makers; the losers they care not about are the takers, notably minorities and immigrants stealing their country.
I, too, want to see reduced federal spending. But the zealots on the right put far greater value on a eventual economic catastrophe resulting from extremely high federal debt—something possible in the future—while willing to ignore the economic pain today felt by so many Americans (but not likely by them) caused by a government shutdown and failure to raise the debt limit.
Norm Ornstein got today’s absolutist Republican behavior right: “an emotional, zealous reaction to America today—an ardent willingness to break crockery and demolish existing institutions to achieve the goal of eviscerating government as we know it, the good with the bad.”
What can be done to fix all this?
The core problem is the perversion of the electoral process by the design of House districts aimed solely at removing diversity of the population, an awful form of political segregation. The only purpose is to undermine democracy, to create political power, to create a revolutionary force in Congress because politicians no longer have to worry about losing elections. Incumbency is assured through mutually reinforced hate, meanness, prejudice. This is what is seen today. This is the driving force behind the Stupid Revolution. All of this is fed by right-wing talk radio and television idiots like Limbaugh that feed an unending stream of misinformation, disinformation and outrageous lies that are gobbled up by Americans living in splendid bubbles of intellectual isolation and bankruptcy.
There is only one potential solution. The Supreme Court must make highly gerrymandered, manipulated house districts by any party unconstitutional.
It’s the democracy, stupid.
Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through Status Quo Busting Writing.